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.
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