Huawei has unveiled its own operating system, HarmonyOS, at the Huawei Developer Conference in China. The company said the software is built to support a wide range of devices, starting first with smartwatches, smart displays and smart speakers. It says it is designed to deliver an intelligent experience across all user scenarios.
Speaking at the Huawei Developer Conference, Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group, explained the company’s thoughts behind developing this new OS. “We’re entering a day and age where people expect a holistic intelligent experience across all devices and scenarios. To support this, we felt it was important to have an operating system with improved cross-platform capabilities. We needed an OS that supports all scenarios, that can be used across a broad range of devices and platforms, and that can meet consumer demand for low latency and strong security.”
“These were our goals with HarmonyOS,” he continued. “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.”
While many have speculated that Huawei developed the OS as an alternative to Android – given the Sino-US trade war – the company said it will be used first for devices other than smartphones. It also appears unlikely the new software will reach Western markets soon, as Huawei said it will “lay the foundations for HarmonyOS in the Chinese market, and then expand it further to the global ecosystem”.
Traditionally, new operating systems are released alongside new types of devices. As early as 10 years ago, Huawei envisioned a future where intelligence would seamlessly integrate with all aspects of our lives, and it began exploring how it might deliver this experience – one that would transcend the boundaries of physical space and span different hardware and platforms.
HarmonyOS is a lightweight, compact operating system with powerful functionality, and it will first be used for smart devices such as smart watches, smart screens, in-vehicle systems, and smart speakers. Through this implementation, Huawei aims to establish an integrated and shared ecosystem across devices, create a secure and reliable runtime environment, and deliver a holistic intelligent experience across every interaction with every device.
Huawei also announced the evolution roadmap for HarmonyOS and its kernel. HarmonyOS 1.0 will be first adopted in its smart screen products, which are due to launch later in 2019. Over the next three years, HarmonyOS will be optimised and gradually adopted across a broader range of smart devices, including wearables, HUAWEI Vision, and head units for users’ cars.
The success of HarmonyOS will depend on a dynamic ecosystem of apps and developers. To encourage broader adoption, Huawei will release HarmonyOS as an open-source platform, worldwide. Huawei will also establish an open-source foundation and an open-source community to support more in-depth collaboration with developers.
China is home to a strong app ecosystem and a massive user base. Moving forward, Huawei will lay the foundations for HarmonyOS in the Chinese market, and then expand it further to the global ecosystem. With a focus on providing new and unique value, Huawei will open up and share its core capabilities in areas such as connectivity, cameras, and AI. It will work closely with ecosystem partners to deliver apps and services that provide consumers with the best possible experience and bring new life to the industry.
According to Huawei, HarmonyOS will bring “incredible” new benefits to consumers, equipment vendors, and developers. For consumers, it will bring a cohesive and powerful intelligent experience across all aspects of their lives. For equipment vendors, it will help them gain a first-mover advantage in the age of holistic intelligent experience, where 5G, AI, and IoT will see explosive growth. At the same time, HarmonyOS will enable developers to win over more users with less investment, and rapidly innovate services across all scenarios.
“We believe HarmonyOS will revitalise the industry and enrich the ecosystem,” said Yu. “Our goal is to bring people a truly engaging and diverse experience. We want to invite developers from around the world to join us as we build out this new ecosystem. Together, we will deliver an intelligent experience for consumers in all scenarios.”