China’s Huawei Technologies announced the launch of its proprietary Harmony operating system (HarmonyOS) for smartphones on Wednesday, as the embattled company looks to recover from US sanctions that have hobbled its handset business.
Huawei will start rolling out HarmonyOS on certain models of its smartphones from Wednesday evening, offering users the chance to switch from the current operating system that is based on Google’s Android platform.
The use of HarmonyOS means the company will no longer be wholly reliant on Android. US sanctions banned Alphabet Inc’s Google from providing technical support to new Huawei phone models and access to Google Mobile Services, the bundle of developer services upon which most Android apps are based.
Rather than being a like-for-like replacement, Huawei is billing HarmonyOS as an ‘Internet-of-Things’ platform, aimed at operating on and connecting other devices such as laptops, smartwatches, cars and appliances.
Huawei is aiming to have HarmonyOS rolled out on 200 million smartphones and 100 million third-party smart devices by the year-end, said Wang Chenglu, president of Huawei Consumer Business Group’s software department, who has led Huawei’s efforts to develop HarmonyOS since 2016.
The ban put Huawei’s handset business under immense pressure. Once the world’s biggest smartphone maker, Huawei now is ranked sixth globally with a 4 percent market share in the first quarter.