With its continuing US trade ban, Huawei has long been planning for an alternative future away from Android. It announced its HarmonyOS software last year and now the second version of the software is set to come to smartphones.
We already knew this was likely, of course, but it’s interesting to have it confirmed during the software keynote at the company’s developer conference – HDC 2020, taking place over the next couple of days.
There was some suggestion during the keynote from Huawei’s consumer chief Richard Yu that there may be a phone launch in 2021 – we think that’s very likely.
Huawei will make a beta version of the HarmonyOS 2.0 software available for smartwatches and TVs now but will follow up in December with a version that works for phones. It’s likely the company would give the software a design similar to the newly-announced EMUI 11 – it’s software that runs on top of Android. So it’s possible that users won’t see a huge difference.
It’s unclear at the moment which types of Huawei smartphone would get the new OS and if some will stick with Android. The Chinese company can continue to use Android on phones, but it can’t use Google apps. That’s fine for the Chinese market but is a dealbreaker for Europe. Huawei is pressing on with the development of its AppGallery app store.
Huawei is also planning to open source HarmonyOS as part of a project called OpenHarmony – just like Android’s own AOSP project.