After months of speculations, and a series of yes’ and no’s, Huawei, the Chinese smartphone giant, has officially launched the HongMeng OS which they adopted an English name of Harmony OS, the CEO of the Chinese tech giant’s consumer division, Richard Yu, said Friday.
The new operating system, which is a first for the tech giant, is said to be used as part of the company’s bid for the Internet of Things (IoT) market, or daily objects that are connected to the internet like smart home systems, smart television, and smartphones.
Yu said during the launch of the Harmony OS that the new operating system can be used across different devices like smartphones and other internet-connected devices – unlike its more popular rival, Android OS.
Harmony OS is set to be used on “smart screen products,” later this year, Yu said. With smart screen products, Huawei is referring to a series of smart television screens and monitors. The company said that the operating system is planned to be used in a variety of different devices, including wearables and smart cars.
Nonetheless, the initial plan of Huawei for HongMeng OS or Harmony OS is to launch it first in China with the intention of launching it globally over the course of the next few years.
Chinese media leaked that Huawei was testing HongMeng for smartphones
The launching of HongMeng OS comes a week after local media from China leaks that Huawei has been testing HongMeng OS for commercial launching. According to reports, the company was testing HongMeng OS-powered smartphones in China and could potentially sell them commercially later this year. Unnamed sources said that the new smartphones would cost roughly around 2,000 yuan (US$288), which puts the HongMeng device in the lower-end of the smartphone market.
While the official announcement from Huawei with regards to the HongMeng OS proved an ounce of truths for earlier reports, it was clear that the company will only start selling HongMeng OS-powered smart screens in 2019, which is inconsistent to earlier reports that they will be selling smartphones with Harmony OS as the main operating system.
Earlier speculations revealed that Huawei has been developing the HongMeng (Harmony) OS in the last nine years, with earlier development and testing starting since 2012. Rumors had it that Huawei has been developing its own operating system to prepare the company for situations where they would no longer be allowed to use its current operating system from Google, the Android OS.
This scenario proved to be possible when the U.S. government subjected the China-based smartphone manufacturer to a series of bans and sanctions which forced companies like Google to terminate their business relationship with Huawei, including revocation of Huawei’s Android license.
Even though the ban has already been lifted by the U.S. following the highly-covered bilateral meeting between U.S.’s Donald Trump and China’s strongman, Xi Jinping, the future for Huawei is still uncertain especially that the company is heavily reliant to some U.S. technologies for its smartphone manufacturing.
Huawei tried to shut down speculations on HongMeng OS
Amid the possibility of another Google ban in the midst of Huawei’s U.S. reputation and the glooming speculations of the HongMeng OS before it was officially launched by the company today, a Huawei executive tried to shut down rumors about their operating system saying that it would not be used for smartphones.
In an interview, Liang Hua, a high-ranking official from Huawei, said that HongMeng was not developed for smartphones and that the company still prefers Android as their “first choice” for a smartphone OS.
“The Hongmeng OS is primarily developed for IoT devices that will reduce latency… In terms of smartphones, we are still using the Android operating system and ecosystem as a “first choice.” We haven’t decided yet if the Hongmeng OS can be developed as a smartphone operating system in the future,” said Liang Hua.
Nonetheless, there is still a grain of truth for both the speculations of tech insiders regarding HongMeng and the statement coming from Liang Hua after the company has officially launched its bid for a new operating system in the market. It is true that HongMeng is primarily developed for IoT devices, but it is also true that Huawei is also developing it to be used in its smartphones in the future.