What is Huawei HarmonyOS? Android Q and iOS 13 have a new rival

Huawei’s lifted the lid on its Android Q and iOS 13 rival, and to everyone’s surprise it’s not called Hongmeng; instead mobile phone fans will soon be saying hello to a new HarmonyOS.

But with so many conflicting reports and questions about Harmony floating around, getting the inside skinny on key details about the OS, including what features it’ll have, when it’ll launch and what phones will run it can be a little tricky. Here to help we’ve created a guide detailing everything you need to know about HarmonyOS.

What is Huawei HarmonyOS?

HarmonyOS is a new operating system developed by Huawei. It was unveiled by Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group, at the company’s Developer Conference in China late last night.

According to Huawei it is a “lightweight” operating system designed to work on multiple different device types including mobile phones, smartwatches, smart screens and cars.

The OS was originally believed to be called Hongmeng. Its launch is believed to be a direct reaction against a recent Executive Order from the US White House against Huawei. The order went out in May and forced numerous tech companies including Google, Intel, ARM and Microsoft to diminish ties with the company. This lead to questions if Huawei’s future smartphones, like the Mate 30, would be able to run Android or access key services like the Google Play Store.

Related: Best Android phones 2019

What features and apps will Huawei HarmonyOS have?

At the moment, not many. HarmonyOS has only just been unveiled and at the moment Huawei’s trying to court developers to the ecosystem by showing off how easy it is to create apps for it.

Specifically Yu said the company hopes to differentiate itself from the competing Android and iOS mobile operating system by making it easier for developers to create single apps that work across every device category covered by HarmonyOS.

“HarmonyOS is completely different from Android and iOS. It is a microkernel-based, distributed OS that delivers a smooth experience across all scenarios. It has trustworthy and secure architecture, and it supports seamless collaboration across devices. You can develop your apps once, then flexibly deploy them across a range of different devices,” explained Yu.

Specifically Huawei claims the OS will have four key selling points for developers. They are:

  1. Seamless: First-ever device OS with distributed architecture, delivering a seamless experience across devices
  2. Smooth: Deterministic Latency Engine and high-performance IPC
  3. Secure: Microkernel architecture that reshapes security and trustworthiness from the ground up
  4. Unified: Multi-device IDE allows apps to be developed once and deployed across multiple devices

Confused? Don’t worry those are pretty technical pitches. The short version is Huawei wants to make the OS open source to developers and as easy to code on as possible so developers can start making and releasing apps for it ASAP.

When will Huawei HarmonyOS come out?

HarmonyOS 1.0 will initially launch on “smart screen products” at an unspecified point later this year. The first product with it will presumably be the Honor Vision TV.

The company then plans to expand it to run on a “broader range of smart devices, including wearables, and head units for your car,” over the next three years.

Initially the OS will be limited to the Chinese market, where there’s already a developed non-Google and iOS app ecosystem.

What phones will run Huawei HarmonyOS?

At the moment there aren’t any confirmed phones with Harmony OS. Though a report from a Slashgear contributor yesterday suggested a version of the Huawei Mate 30 will feature it. This hasn’t been confirmed by Huawei.

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