Huawei prepares to split from Android with HarmonyOS NEXT

Chinese smartphone maker Huawei is taking its in-house operating system HarmonyOS to the next level in a bid to cut ties with the Google-developed operating system Android, the company announced last week.

The latest iteration of Huawai’s operating system, called Harmony OS NEXT, is now available in developer preview version, with a more complete beta version expected in the second quarter. Unlike previous versions 1.0 to 4.0, HarmonyOS NEXT will not support the opening of Android applications. If successful, the commercial launch of the product, which is slated for the fourth quarter of this year, would establish HarmonyOS as a fully independent operating system.

Huawei plans to invest over 7 billion RMB (973 million USD) to incentivise innovation in the HarmonyOS ecosystem and will partner with enterprises and universities to train 100,000 HarmonyOS developers each month. Huawei has also developed an open version of the operating system in the hopes that other tech firms may consider using it to power their own devices in future.

HarmonyOS was first launched in 2019 after US restrictions cut off Huawei’s access to Google’s technical support for the Android operating system. Since then, Huawei has been concerned that increasingly strict restrictions could harm user experience. Developing a fully independent operating system is a strategy to reduce vulnerabilities imposed by US sanctions in the long term, much in the same way that the firm’s most recent smartphone launch successfully dodged the US’s 5G chip embargo.


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