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Harmony OS

Huawei has started preparing to replace Google's Android operating system with its very own operating system Harmony OS in its mobile phones sometime next year (2021).

The beta version of this smartphone-compatible system was unveiled by Huawei on December 16, 2020, in Beijing.

2020 was a difficult year for the Chinese mobile phone manufacturer Huawei, whose mobile phone business was blacklisted by the US, which caused a ban on doing business with US companies such as Google. This leads, among other things, to a lack of access to Google's apps and services, but this in turn also affects the range of applications from other companies. Companies that do not necessarily have to be American. Huawei has therefore had to invest heavily in its own app store Huawei AppGallery, but there is not at all as large a selection of popular apps as with the Google PlayStore.

The blacklisting was realized in May 2019 and it led to new mobile phones such as the Huawei P40 Pro and Huawei Mate 40 Pro losing access to the licensed version of the Android operating system as well as access to Google Mobile Services. 

Huawei is currently using the Android Open Source version in its devices, but it looks like it will change in upcoming smartphones from Huawei already next year.

Harmony OS is related to Huawei Mobile Services, although the former is more complicated. With the help of HMS, the mobile manufacturer is working to develop replacements for Google's apps and new versions of popular apps as a way to get around the blacklisting. It is clear that the lack of apps affects the sales of Huawei's mobile phones in a negative direction because far too few want to own a mobile phone where they do not have direct access to Facebook, Gmail, YouTube, and more.

Harmony OS is an operating system designed to be compatible with a variety of devices such as smartphones, TVs, smart speakers, and other smart home equipment. According to Huawei, the new system is a more efficient operating system than Android, so devices with less memory should work optimally even though they use the same system as the expensive flagship mobiles with significantly more memory capacity. To achieve this, they use a more streamlined code, which means that Harmony OS can use a single line of code in comparison with Android, which instead needs a hundred lines.

Despite this, Harmony OS can still deliver powerful functionality to all devices.

Harmony OS is free to use, as long as you have a device running the operating system.

As Huawei not only manufactures expensive flagship mobiles but also produces cheaper budget mobiles, it should not be an obstacle for consumers to order one of their mobile phones in the future.

Harmony OS will also be an open-source platform, so developers will be able to provide apps for the platform and other smartphone makers may even choose to use the operating system in their mobile phones. 

The problem with having your very own operating system is to get app developers interested in developing applications that are compatible with that particular system. This is something that other mobile phone manufacturers have previously had insurmountable problems with. I am thinking mainly of Microsoft Windows for mobiles and Blackberry OS, which is two systems that no longer exist, and the big reason why they no longer exist is precisely the lack of apps.

A new system where you can not use popular apps is of little use to the average user.

Huawei has a solution for this in the form of a tool that they have spent 10 years developing, known as Ark Compiler. Using the Ark Compiler, external developers can process Android apps to work with Harmony OS. A process that Huawei says takes about one to two days. The finished app would be functional on all Huawei mobile phones.

We can only hope that in 2021 we will see a brightening for the mobile phone manufacturer Huawei, which for a while actually looked like it would overtake Samsung and become the world's largest mobile phone manufacturer.