Huawei has faced some challenges this year, to put things mildly. Google pulled Huawei’s license back on May 20, and Android was unavailable to them to ship on their smartphones. Just days ago, I mentioned Samsung’s Tizen plans and how they ship it on their watch, but haven’t shipped Tizen on a phone in 5 years. Today, Huawei announced their new smartphone OS.
I’m going to lay out the timeline of events that led to today’s announcement: Huawei trademarked the name Hongmeng OS back on May 24, just days after Google cancelled the Android license.
Then on July 18, 2019, Huawei board member and senior Vice President Catherine Chen told Xinhuanet.com that the company’s Hongmeng operating system is not for smartphones and the company intends to continue to use Google’s Android operating system for its smartphones.
Chen, when asked at a media roundtable in Brussels, made clear that Hongmeng is not designed as an Android replacement, and is not for smartphones.
She said Hongmeng OS is for industrial use and was developed before the any talk about an alternative to Android.
On August 4th, Reuters reported that Huawei was testing a smartphone with Hongmeng, possibly for release later this year. Speculation was that it would cost 2000 Yuan, or about $288 USD.
Today, August 9th, Huawei revealed that Hongmeng is HarmonyOS, and will be used on all their platforms: smart speakers, Honor-branded TVs, and smartphones.
Interestingly, it’s a micro-kernel architecture, meaning it’s more similar to BSD or MacOS in construction than Linux (a macrokernel OS, and the basis of Android.)
The operating system is open source, and Huawei announced the developer roadmap for it as well. Over the next few years, we should be seeing it pop up in everything from augmented reality wearables to automotive headunits.
The IDE or development environment is set up to be multi-device from the outset. Developers will be able to write for multiple device form factors. We hope to see a HarmonyOS/HongmengOS device soon.