Huawei launches HarmonyOS, its Android alternative in survival bid

Mr Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei consumer business, speaking at a conference in Dongguan, China, yesterday, when Huawei unveiled the HarmonyOS.
Mr Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei consumer business, speaking at a conference in Dongguan, China, yesterday, when Huawei unveiled the HarmonyOS.PHOTO: AP

DONGGUAN (China) • Chinese telecoms giant Huawei unveiled its own operating system yesterday, as it faces the threat of losing access to Android systems amid escalating US-China trade tensions.

Mr Richard Yu, the head of Huawei's consumer business, told a press conference in the southern city of Dongguan that the new system, called HarmonyOS, or HongMeng in Chinese, would "bring more harmony and convenience to the world".

The highly anticipated software is considered crucial for the tech group's survival as it confronts a looming White House ban on United States companies selling technology products to Huawei, which could remove its access to Google's Android operating system.

Mr Yu said the new system was a future-oriented OS, which he said was "completely different from Android and iOS".

"If you're asking when will we apply this to the smartphone, we can do it at any time," said Mr Yu, adding that they gave priority to using Google's Android operating system, which is compatible with Harmony.

"However, if we cannot use it (Android) in the future, we can immediately switch to the HarmonyOS," he said.

"You can develop your apps once, then flexibly deploy them across a range of different devices," he said, adding the Honor Smart Screen product it plans to unveil today will be the first product using the HarmonyOS. It would then expand across a range of smart devices, including wearable technology over the next three years.

He added it would be difficult for Huawei to meet its previous goal of becoming the world's biggest smartphone maker by shipments this year due to the US curbs.

The company would have been able to ship 300 million smartphones this year without such restrictions, Mr Yu said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2019, with the headline 'Huawei launches HarmonyOS, its Android alternative in survival bid'. Print Edition | Subscribe