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What is Harmony OS?

It is almost too difficult to resist the temptation of calling Huawei’s Harmony OS a patchy “plan B” for its smartphones since it has no business using the Android OS.

With the geopolitical complexities that stand as a disruption to Huawei’s ability to trade with the United States, there is a strong chance that the tech giants have to kiss google’s Android OS goodbye soon.

The Harmony OS is what I would love to call a great backup plan for when or if things go from bad to worse.

Except we are wrong to assume that Harmony OS is just a backup.

The Chinese company dedicated a glamorous event to this brand new operating system at the 2019 Huawei Developer Conference.

From the information gathered at this event, the world can stop guessing and finally know all the facts about the Huawei Harmony OS.

What is Harmony OS?

Huawei has tried to distill the essence of its Harmony OS’ in just one tagline: “A micro-kernel based, distributed OS for all scenarios.” Sounds like a mouth full of chocolate yea?

We will talk more about the technical side in a bit, but the first part starts with the aspect that says “for all scenarios.” Harmony OS isn’t explicitly designed to be an Android OS rival; it is a rival to every smart operating system you can imagine.

Huawei explained that its Harmony OS is the next step in establishing a fast connection between the end-user and the ever-changing digital space. Huawei believes that the most significant changes are just close to us with the birth of 5G, artificial intelligence, the growing relevance of cloud technology, and the rapidly growing Internet of Things market.

This working together of all these makes up what Huawei has titled a “seamless AI life” — a convergence of the next-generation technology that it believes will cut across all of our smart devices both in the home and on the go for several years to come.

Huawei believes that the issue is that a lot of the smart technologies we use every day have refused to interact with each other, talk more of work seamlessly together.

This challenge is not a new one in any way. Many operating systems are flawed because of manufacturer rivalries or because of hardware necessity with even highly versatile open-source platforms such as Linux facing challenges because of its origin as a laptop/pc system.

This is also something we have seen for decades with Android. Google has made sure to continually struggle to recapture the Android magic for its TV platforms and its wearable devices. Chromecast happens to be Google’s best selling physical products, and it is built on cast instead of Android TV; this also tells a lot.

So Huawei has decided that instead of going through the stress of re-purposing an operating system or rebuilding the same applications and repeating the same things over and over, they would instead unleash a sparkling new operating system, and the Tech giant claims they have been working on the Harmony OS for close to a decade.

“1 + 8 + N”

Huawei has a Clear Vision for its harmony operating system ecosystem, and this vision begins with what the Tech giant calls the “1 + 8 + N” strategy. Within the “1 + 8 + N” set up, ” 1″ represents the device that should be your smartphone.

Let us take the smartphones as the focus example here, since they are our regular companions and they do a great job at connecting us with other people whenever and wherever in the world we find ourselves. It makes total sense for Huawei to use the devices as the starting point.

After the “1” comes the “8,” which represents other familiar devices such as our tablets, laptops, desktops, smartwatches, smart speakers, and lots of different tools that will run on the Harmony OS.

And finally, there is the “N,” which happens to be the more complicated or confusing part that features smart refrigerators smart lighting and many other devices that Huawei has decided to leave to third-party manufacturers in the meantime.

It is already a tricky situation trying to get all of these devices or products to function in synergy or play nicely with themselves even if you decide to count only Huawei products.

Huawei laptops make use of Windows, their smartphones make use of Android, and their smartwatches operate on Lite OS.

This means that opening their doors to other larger devices like refrigerators and smart lighting, etc., is another journey into the world of incompatibility.

To make things a lot clearer, Huawei is bringing forth a simple solution: the needed to make a secure operating system that will work correctly on all of their devices without stress. However, the implementation of this solution is nothing close to being simple.

Designing a smart OS

The Harmony OS is built on a single application framework, a single kennel, and it is to operate the same core services regardless of the hardware.

Huawei believes that by getting rid of redundant code and taking advantage of a more efficient model of scheduling that is based on real-time, “Deterministic Latency Engine” which can relocate resources in real-time, its Harmony operating system represents a few steps above the monolithic and hybrid kennel architectures like Android and Linux respectively.

Huawei claims that it looked beyond isolated hardware features and individual devices and instead focused on a pool of abilities and traits that can be combined to create a virtualized hardware level.

This pool of resources cuts across brother characteristics like speakers displays cameras and microphones, which are elements that repeat across different smart devices.

Huawei reports that its harmony OS will function at home on a laptop or a mobile phone that carries a 12GB of RAM, as it will be at home on a smart light bulb with ordinary kilobytes of memory.

There are numerous potential benefits of using the Harmony operating system. The primary example presented by Huawei is the ability to switch between one device and another while using a particular app without experiencing any downtime.

An instance would be when you’re making a call on your phone and quickly switching it over to your vehicle dashboard while you’re driving or switching it to your TV or your tablet.

An additional benefit is that the Harmony operating system applications will never require to be written for only one platform because of Huawei’s ARK compiler that supports multiple languages (The languages listed by Huawei include C/C++, Java, JS, and Kotlin). You can get that this will not only reduce the overall development time but will also offer excellent compatibility across a variety of devices without any extra stress or workload.

This will be good news for app developers, and it will help them save more time. However, for android applications, there is no possibility of them working on the harmony OS.

It is, however, possible for the compiler to convert android apps to Harmony OS without much stress.

All of those mentioned above, coupled with the advanced security that is enabled by the macro kennel environment across devices, build up an exciting picture for developers, end-users, and Huawei as a company that seeks to take charge of the future of connected technology.

Harmony OS is no doubt what the future needs when it comes to smart technology. However, there is still a long way to go for Huawei as no operating system can function in the absence of devices.

This means that until devices that run on the Harmony OS are created, there is no way to enjoy the endless possibilities that this operating system features.

So, what about Harmony OS devices?

Huawei has so much confidence in the fact that it knows it is one of the few tech giants that have the required infrastructure in place to actualize all of his ambitions and, that is one fact that is difficult to argue.

Huawei currently has a massive investment in Cloud technology, produces its own Kirin silicone, and now stands at the heart of 5G technology around the globe.

The company can also boast of a booming device business spanning across wearables, smartphones, tablets, computers, and lots more. And regardless of competition and technological advancements, Huawei has managed to stay relevant and maintain its spot as one of the best in the market.

Huawei is not scared of using its massive portfolio as a catapult for it to Mia operating system, as a matter of fact, the company has begun with its very first harmony operating system powered product, which is known as the Huawei vision Smart TV.

This consumer-ready product was released in China, and the television showcases a few of the artificial intelligence-driven smart harmony operating system promises.

The intelligent television doubles as a hiLink control system for more than 900 IoT devices, and it is also possible for you to easily broadcast and share content from your phone directly to this television.

At present, this is the only Harmony OS driven product that we have officially seen, but the company has begun to tease some of the products that we will see some time in the future.

Going by the roadmap seen at HDC, the rollout of harmony OS powered devices will begin in the year 2020 with smart bands, smartwatches, personal computers, and vehicle head units.

By the year 2021, Huawei claims that it might expand It’s the new operating system to speakers and some other audio devices, and after the Year 2022, they should venture into the realm of VR glasses and more.

Of all the devices, smartwatches are specifically a compelling case, mainly because Huawei has ventured into WearOS for the Huawei Watch GT.

However, the good thing about the Harmony OS is that it is backward compatible, which means that existing Huawei wearables can transition into the Harmony OS in the future.

However, one strange thing about the Old Woman released by Huawei is the absence of smartphones, which means that they might consider sticking to the Android OS for their smartphones during the use of harmony OS for other devices.

This is just a mere suspicion from now as the company might decide to release new smartphones that run on the Harmony as possible now there is no clue as to what they have in mind when it comes to smartphones.

The Huawei mate 30 series is considered a perfect line of smartphones, but with the absence of Google Play store on this Android-powered devices, lots of customers find it challenging to gain access to their favorite applications except through third-party application store.

Huawei understands that the absence of this Google powered product is a considerable loss, and for this reason, we suspect that in the future, the company might have to dump Android and embrace its own harmony OS for good.

With the looming trade ban, if things go from bad to worse, Google may have had to stick to its play store that has lost most of the application features. This may mean a significant loss for the tech giant, but let us hope there is a way out.

Whether by choice or by force, Huawei’s new Operating System is on a collision with the android operating system one way or the other.

That’s everything we know about Harmony OS so far. Do you think it’ll be a success? Let us know in the comments.

This is all we know about the Harmony operating system for now. As soon as we have more information, we will share it with you guys. Till then, we look forward to receiving your comments.


Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ella Romena is a content writer, sociologist and Anthropologist who lives in Benin-city.

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