A few years ago Chinese phone maker Huawei announced that it would begin shipping smartphones with its own HarmonyOS operating system rather than Google Android. But when the first HarmonyOS phones began shipping it was clear that the operating system was little more than a heavily skinned version of Android… at first.

Over the past few years Huawei has put a lot more work into its operating for smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and other products. And now it looks like the company is almost ready to take a major step by dropping support for Android apps altogether.

HarmonyOS DevEco Studio

The next version of Huawei’s operating system is known as HarmonyOS Next, and according to a report from PandaDaily, it will drop “traditional AOSP code,” which means that while it will look a lot like the versions of HarmonyOS available today, under the hood it will be running Huawei’s code rather than Google’s Android Open Source Project code.

And that means developers that want to make sure users can run their apps on Huawei phones and other devices will need to port them to run natively on HarmonyOS Next. The South China Morning Post reports that major Chinese tech firms like JD, NetEase, and Meituan have gone on a HarmonyOS app developer hiring spree.

Of course, there’s probably less incentive for global companies who do the bulk of their business outside of China to adopt the platform, which could lead to a drop in the number of overall apps available for Huawei devices.

But it’s not like Huawei had much choice in the matter. The company’s decision to move from Android to HarmonyOS in the first place was a response to US sanctions that limited the company’s ability to source technology from companies that do business with the United States. And while Huawei could theoretically have continued to fork Android Open Source Project code indefinitely, much of the special sauce that makes modern Android devices tick is proprietary code that’s only available to companies that do business with Google directly.

Huawei is expected to launch a developer preview of HarmonyOS Next in early 2024 before rolling it out more widely in the future.

via GSM Arena

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  1. Maybe its just me, but looking through a bunch of articles I was unable to find if HarmonyOS Next is linux based or not

    1. I am thinking it will probably still be a fork of AOSP, but they would have made some under-the-hood changes so that regular Android Apps don’t work anymore. You now have to “port” your Android App to a new Huawei SDK.

      It’s not ra cism, I hugely support JingOS and the JingPad for trying to add innovation to the market. Huawei for all it’s money, power, and talent, they do not seem to be looking to innovate. It looks like they want HarmonyOS to be Chinese Alternative to Google’s AndroidOS, and HiSilicon to be alternative to Qualcomm, and SMIC to be alternative to TSMC, and Tiktok to be alternative to Instagram etc etc. It’s just a remix, not progress.

  2. No one ever proved or showed us that Huawei was as dangerous as claimed. Their association with China was all it took.

    Conspiracy incoming… perhaps it was western governments manipulating capitalism to favor their homegrown partners through backroom deals and bags of cash.

    Whatever the case… it seems that with this latest move, Huawei will no longer be competitive outside of their own pond. Smoke, mirrors, propaganda, market manipulation? Who can tell.

    Maybe even the military industrial complex trying to make sure its business remains solvent through fear and misinformation. If I were them and raking in nearly 1 trillion dollars per year… I might be tempted to invent threats all over the place.

    I mean… if China is such a threat – we either do business with them or we don’t. Instead, we cherry-pick our threats for the benefit of others.

    TikTok is next but I fear Facebook (and its other data-slurping, battery draining apps) more. Oh well…

    A satisfied Huawei user for many years. I may be forced to buy expensive Google or even Apple devices (with upcoming cameras hidden behind the screen) now when I know they are as invasive (or moreso) as all other phone makers out there.

    There is no competition. There is only the fiction of choice.

    1. I’ve heard every insult under the sun for those who support the military industrial complex, but it’s still important to remember for the sake of context what was happening when those broad overarching sanctions were laid down. 5g was just starting to roll out and Huawei had some of the better price to performance models of 5g cell towers and other network infrastructure components.
      Even in either extreme of ideal world where either:
      -the USA is a land of freedom, justice, diversity, inclusion, equality, love, peace, industriousness, and happiness, where the only miscreants are those dastardly [insert allegedly fringe element you don’t like here] and the PRC is a land of stifling restrictions on speech, thought, child slavery, genocide, complete disregard for the global environment, and corruption,
      -The USA is cesspit of corruption, stupidity, decay, hatred, and bureaucratic gears grinding against each other and the PRC is a shining beacon of intelligence, fairness, order, growth, innovation, cleanliness, and peace
      It still makes sense for the US to stop anyone trying to buy the network infrastructure equipment that members of the military might use from a rival country that could conceivably plant a backdoor in it via a software update if Huawei was ordered to do so however difficult it may be.

      The network effects of Microsoft Apple and Google have done far more to stifle competition and eliminate choice than this particular set of rules.

    2. This comment is deceptive… because as a Canadian, it wasn’t just what they were potentially doing with telecom equipment but the fact that upon hearing that we were going to replace their hardware with other ones – something we are allowed to do – the country itself decided to retaliate and hold Canadians for seemingly made up reasons and arresting them as they tried to leave the country.

      If an entire country’s response to the replacement of the telecom equipment they sold is to essentially hold people hostage then that’s a legitimate reason to be concerned about what it really was meant to do and what it was created for.

    3. Very wrong. From stealing hardware design do big mobile espionage. Proofed and fired back to China.