Huawei's Confused OS - ArkOS, LiteOS, HongMeng, Harmony...
Written by Mike James   
Wednesday, 17 July 2019

From a technical point of view you have to feel sorry for Huawei. Headed for mobile phone dominance it had the rug pulled out from under its feet with the withdrawal of Android. So what to do?  A new operating system? But which, what, where? Confusion reigns.

Faced with sanctions that means it can't make use of Google's version of Android, what is a phone manufacturer to do but create its own replacement.There has to be part of every Android programmer that longs for something simple and efficient to replace the bloated, confusing, mess that Android has grown into. OK, well maybe someone loves the system and sees its hidden beauty, but I can't see it. So could Huawei create something better? Probably not, but that doesn't seem to be be stopping it from trying.


Back in May, Harry Fairhead speculated that the new operating system might be based on LiteOS, which was Huawei's low end IoT OS that had been used in smartwatches and smartphones. This seemed to be wrong when, in early June, Huawei registered HongMeng as the potential name of the new OS and claimed that it was Android-compatible. A little thought suggested that if it was Android-compatible, it was probably based on the open source version of Android. This seems reasonable as the whole problem with floating a new mobile OS is the chicken and egg situation with respect to apps. The new OS doesn't have a market because there are not enough apps. The programmers aren't interested in creating apps because there isn't a market. If the OS was 100% Android-compatible then this bootstraps the whole thing and there is at least a chance of being successful.

Now we have two additional pieces of information. The first is that Huawei is trademarking "Harmony" for a mobile OS in Europe. In an interview with a French magazine, Huawei's CEO and founder, Ren Zhengfei, stated that the homegrown Hongmeng OS might be faster than Android and will have broader application as well. It can be used not only on smartphones but on routers, network switches, tablets, computers and even data centers. Now this sounds more like LiteOS or ArkOS than just a version of open source Android.

Ren Zhengfei said,

“The system has a processing delay of less than 5 milliseconds. It will be perfectly adapted to the Internet of Things and can also be applied to autonomous driving. We built this system in order to be able to connect all objects simultaneously. This is how we move towards a smart society."

 Sounds like an IoT OS to me and this confirms it:

"HongMeng is not designed for phones as everyone thinks. We didn't develop the OS to replace Google—and if Google does withdraw its OS from Huawei, we will need to start building an ecosystem because we don't have a clear plan yet."

So basically it's a plan to wait and see what happens. The trade restrictions on Huawei seem to be being relaxed, although not a lot seems to have changed in practice. What all this emphasizes is that creating something to replace Android isn't going to be quick and whatever it is that does replace Android probably better run Android apps. I would be surprised if HongMeng sees the light of day, but on the other hand after this scare it would surprise me if Huawei or some other Chinese tech company didn't work on a replacement for Android just in case...




More Information

Ren Zhengfei accepts interviews with French media: Huawei operating system will be 60% faster than Android

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 17 July 2019 )