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June 3, 2021

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Huawei launches HarmonyOS

CHINESE tech giant Huawei launched its highly-anticipated homegrown mobile operating system yesterday, opening a new front in its fight for survival in the smartphone arena after the US blocked it from using Android.

The company says its new HarmonyOS system is packed with special features and capitalizes on growing demand to seamlessly link devices — known as “Internet of things.”

HarmonyOS is based on open-source elements of Android that Huawei and other companies remain free to use, and the company unveiled the first mobile devices pre-loaded with the system in an online launch.

Lead developer Wang Chenglu said the OS will see Huawei get ahead of the curve as IoT development accelerates, spurred by new technologies like intelligent vehicles and the coming advent of super-fast 5G connections.

“With HarmonyOS, we weren’t going to just produce another Android or iOS. It would be the same and have no consumer value,” Wang said. “Our special features are what Android and iOS lack.”

HarmonyOS smartphone users will, for example, be able to access files, documents and other content on everything from computers to wearables and other linked devices, Wang said.

He said the system will also be able to accept a wide range of apps even if they weren’t specifically coded for HarmonyOS — an effort to quell concerns that users’ options will be limited.

Huawei started rolling out HarmonyOS on certain models of its smartphones last evening. It is aiming to have HarmonyOS rolled out on 200 million smartphones and 100 million third-party smart devices by the year-end.

China’s leading telecommunications equipment maker found itself on a US trade blacklist in May 2019 due to national security concerns. Huawei has repeatedly denied it is a risk.

Wang said the company was looking beyond smartphones with HarmonyOS. He said the smartphone market had plateaued and that smartphones remain the dominant device in people’s lives because most developers have few other platforms to develop for.

Will Wong, an analyst at IDC, said it was not essential for Huawei that other smartphone makers adopt HarmonyOS. “(But) for Huawei to achieve its ambition, it will be important to get other electronics brands and even automakers on board for the OS, and China provides a favorable market ecosystem to achieve this,” said Wong.

“We are surrounded by more and more smart devices these days, and are now in a world where all things are connected,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group.

“Every single one of us is a part of this fully connected world, as is every device. We look forward to working with more partners and developers to build a thriving HarmonyOS ecosystem,” he said.



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