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Huawei will bring HarmonyOS to phones – could this end its Android nightmare?

Hauwei has confirmed its homegrown HarmonyOS operating system is coming to smartphones, potentially signalling the end of the company’s fraught reliance on Google’s Android.

During its annual developer conference, the Chinese manufacturer revealed the second iteration of HarmonyOS and hinted at plans to launch handsets on the platform in 2021. Initial plans are to launch a beta version of the HarmonyOS 2.0 SDK for use in television sets and smartwatches, similar to the tack Samsung has taken with Tizen. However, the smartphone version of the SDK will be out before the end of the year, CEO Richard Yu said (via The Verge).

Interestingly, Huawei also looks to be mirroring Google’s approach with Android by putting Harmony into the open source community, allowing third-parties to build on top of it. Perhaps one day that might see it become a true rival to Android.

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Huawei may have done this anyway, given its status as one of the most successful mobile manufacturers in the world, especially in the Far East where it is a dominant player.

However, plans may have been expedited given how difficult life has become in terms of getting the best out of Android, due to restrictions on US companies dealing with their Chinese counterparts. The company is also beset by lingering, yet unproven, allegations it uses a vast global mobile infrastructure network to conduct espionage on behalf of the Chinese government.

The firm’s top phones currently run the open source version of Android, but minus all of the bits that really bring it to life. There’s no access to Google Mobile Services, which means no stock apps, or the Play Store. That makes its phones a tougher sell for Android users who want easy access to Google Maps, YouTube, Gmail and all the other bells and whistles

Huawei has done what it can, but it’s been clear for a while that HarmonyOS will emerge as an alternate option for the firm. However, given the lack of success new operating systems have been in rivalling iOS and Android in recent history, the number one option for Huawei will be probably be a return to the status quo.