Earlier this week, Huawei announced HarmonyOS 2, the new operating system that will replace Google’s Android on various smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and other smart gadgets. HarmonyOS 2 is already compatible with dozens of existing Huawei devices.
For a while, we thought HarmonyOS would be a brand new universal operating system, similar to Google’s Android replacement, Fuchsia. But more recent reports suggest Huawei’s operating system isn’t as ambitious as the Chinese company has just developed its own version of Android, which it hopes to roll out to millions of devices. The deployment is off to a good start, apparently. While Western Android fans may not even know what HarmonyOS is, it already has over 10 million users in China.
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The inability to provide customers with access to the Google Play Store, Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, and other key Google features on Android is a huge problem for Huawei. Android users who depend on these apps and services are less likely to buy a new Huawei phone, even if it was running Google’s AOSP version of Android. The installation of HarmonyOS poses the same problem, because the operating system cannot accommodate Google applications at the moment.
The Chinese smartphone maker has been banned from working with US companies, so it cannot use software and hardware products related to US companies. Huawei cannot install Google apps on devices it sells in international markets. But this problem does not exist in China, where Google is not present. Chinese smartphone makers have already preloaded other stores and software solutions on Android phones sold in the country, even though the devices run Google’s Android AOSP.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise to learn that HarmonyOS has passed 10 million installs, as these users are from China. Huawei phones have been selling quite well in the region over the past few years, so there is a large user base who could update their phones to HarmonyOS 2 beta if they so choose. Huawei has ensured that the operating system is compatible with a large number of Huawei smartphones, even much older models. Switching to HarmonyOS will likely be a seamless process and users will get the same overall experience on their smartphones.
According to reports from China, Huawei has already celebrated the 10 million install mark. The company has high hopes for HarmonyOS, aiming to reach 360 million active devices by the end of the year and attract up to 1.2 million developers to its platform. This appears to be the key to the end game for Huawei right now, ensuring that whatever operating system it deploys on its devices, users will have access to great apps.
It’s unclear when HarmonyOS will be available for international users or if Android users will even want it. Replacing Google’s Android with HarmonyOS would mean ditching all Google apps in the process. Not to mention that HarmonyOS doesn’t look as exciting as it did when Huawei first tackled it. Instead, it appears to be an Android fork that Huawei controls – this ArsTechnica the story explains everything in detail.
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