U.S. sanctions continue to hang over Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., but that hasn’t stopped the company from announcing its own smartphone operating system called HarmonyOS.
It’s a big move towards independence from the Android operating system it had relied on in the past. But even with its own operating system developed and ready to run, its chief executive officer of the consumer division, Richard Yu, said that this does not mean they intend to give up on using Android despite Google LLC suspending its Android license in May; this is simply a backup plan.
“If we cannot use it in the future we can immediately switch to HarmonyOS,” Yu said today at Huawei’s annual developer conference in Dongguan. He added that it would take them only two days to make the switch, if necessary.
In the meantime, Yu said it’s still unclear whether Huawei can continue to use Android and it is waiting on an update. He also announced that the first phone using this operating system would be released this Saturday under Huawei’s Honor brand.
HarmonyOS will also be made available in smart screen products such as TV, smartwatches, and in-vehicle infotainment systems later this year, according to Yu. This includes the Honor Smart Screen, which is also reported to be unveiled on Saturday.
Huawei says that HarmonyOS will allow for a seamless experience across a range of devices.
“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,” said Yu. 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.”
It’s that flexibility of use, as well as the fact that it will be open-source, that Yu said will differentiate HarmonyOS from other operating systems.
“You can develop your apps once, then flexibly deploy them across a range of different devices,” he said.
*This story has been updated to include additional details about the OS*