Huawei formally announces HarmonyOS, an open source Android alternative

Written over 1 year ago by IanDorfman

Chinese tech giant Huawei has announced at its annual developer conference that it is developing a new open source operating system called HarmonyOS.

According to Richard Yu, Huawei’s chief executive officer for the company’s consumer business group, HarmonyOS has been in development for two years. It aims to run across the company’s full slate of devices as a unified interface for customers to understand. This includes the likes of smart TVs, Internet of Things devices, and, at some point, their smartphone and tablet lineup. These devices can all run the OS as developed by a single integrated development environment, thereby circumventing Android’s more fragmented release schedule.

HarmonyOS will aim to be compatible with HTML5, Linux, and, most importantly, Android apps. That said, Android apps will need to be recompiled, a process that Yu refers to as “very easy.”

Despite HarmonyOS being open source, Huawei will not allow users to have root access to their devices, citing that to be a security risk.

The rollout for HarmonyOS is planned to span 3 years, starting with devices like wearables and car infotainment systems, with plans for their smartphones to move away from Android still forthcoming. That said, if Huawei for whatever reason (say, legal obligations in the wake of trade bans by certain nations) would need to discontinue shipping their smart devices with Android, they would be able to shift those devices to HarmonyOS at “any time.”

Further coverage:
Android Authority
Huawei on Twitter