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Huawei has officially unveiled its HarmonyOS operating system

Huawei took to the stage at its June 2 event to reveal a range of new smart devices, including the Huawei Watch 3 and the new MatePad Pro tablet. But, all the big reveals centred around one long-awaited announcement – HarmonyOS.

Huawei first announced it would be developing its own mobile operating system back in 2019, after the White House banned the Chinese company from using the full Android OS or any other Google services due to security concerns.

The latest release is actually HarmonyOS 2, as Huawei previously launched HarmonyOS 1 as a smart TV OS a few years back. HarmonyOS 2 entered its second developer beta in December 2020, before launching officially on June 2 2021.

Here’s everything you need to know about Huawei’s new operating system, HarmonyOS.

What is Huawei HarmonyOS?

HarmonyOS is a new operating system by Huawei, designed to stand as an alternative to iOS 14 and the recently announced Android 12.

It was first unveiled by Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group, at the company’s Developer Conference in China on August 9 2019 and entered into its 2.0 developer beta for smartphones in December 2020, before finally launching for consumers in June 2021.

HarmonyOS

HarmonyOS isn’t just for smartphones, though. Much of the focus at the June 2 event was dedicated to how the operating system is able to connect a wide range of smart devices seamlessly, merging them into what Huawei calls “Super Devices” you can command through its Control Panel. But, more on that below.

What features and apps does HarmonyOS have?

The Control Panel and the Task Center are two of the biggest features we got a closer look at during the June event.

At the event, Huawei called the Control Panel is “a portal for consumers to create Super Devices”. The panel features a drag-and-integrate feature that makes it easy to connect other smart devices with one swipe. One example Huawei shared was dragging the smart screen icon to the phone icon to switch a movie over to your TV, or dragging earbud icon to the phone icon to move the TV audio to your FreeBuds when your family goes to bed.

A smartphone held horizontally in hand, four applications visible and text written in chinese

The Task Center, meanwhile, lets you move apps between different devices without needing to install them on every individual device. You can also view which apps are running on other devices in your Super Device system with the Task Center. You can then drag them over to your tablet or PC for a larger screen or move onto your phone to take your apps on-the-go.

Then there’s the Home Screen. Like Android and iOS, the Home Screen features widgets which can show information without you opening the app. You can also move the widgets around, change the size and hide them.

A close up picture of a smartphone's home screen with multiple applications displayed and text written in chinese

For non-Huawei devices, there’s also HarmonyOS Connect. This feature allows you to link your Huawei phone with your smart home appliances with a tap. For example, you can connect your smart oven to see recipes and switch the oven on or connect to your smart refrigerator to adjust the temperature automatically based on the food in your fridge.

HarmonyOS also features multi-device collaborate identity authentication, meaning users can boost their security by choosing to unlock their phone with facial recognition and a separate check on their smartwatch.

According to Huawei, the performance of HarmonyOS is “superior to that of the Android-based EUMI”.

A phone running HarmonyOS can apparently maintain read/write speeds close to those of a new phone after 36 months of use, even with less storage available.

Huawei also knocked Apple at the event, claiming that its OS allows Huawei phones to last 5.1 hours while playing graphic-intensive games, compared to the latest iPhone’s 3.9 hours.

HarmonyOS

So, what about apps?

Yu previously stated that Huawei hopes to differentiate itself from the competing Android and iOS mobile operating systems 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”, he explained.

When is Harmony OS available and which devices will run it?

Over 100 Huawei devices will be eligible for the update to HarmonyOS 2 in China. This includes the Mate 40 series, the Mate 30 series, the P40 series, the Mate X2, the Nova 8 series and the MatePad Pro series.

The company is currently inviting users interested in testing the OS out early to apply via the Huawei Club, on the My Huawei app or to sign up for the HarmonyOS Experience Officer Program in a Huawei store in China.

There’s no word on when or on what devices HarmonyOS will be available in the UK just yet.

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