Huawei is reportedly planning a global launch of its HarmonyOS software as early as next year. The microkernel-based operating system is currently only available on Huawei devices in China.
In an interview with Romanian news outlet Adevarul, Derek Yu, Huawei’s President of Consumer Business for Central and Eastern Europe, Northern Canada and Turkey, said that global users can expect to get their hands on the software in 2022, specifically mentioning the European market.
Yu added that a new Mate series phone is coming next year, along with a new foldable that will be unveiled at Mobile World Congress 2022.
Huawei debuted HarmonyOS in 2019 after the U.S. enforced a trade ban that prevented it from accessing Google’s Android license. It powers the Chinese firm’s phones, tablets and TVs, among other devices. And despite it being relatively new, the software is said to have already been downloaded over 100 million times.
Here are some key features to look out for with this new mobile operating system.
Huawei touts that HarmonyOS was designed around the field of the Internet of Things (IoT). This simply means that the system is capable of communicating and sending data across a shared ecosystem of devices in a smooth and seamless fashion.
HarmonyOS uses its distributed capabilities in allowing you to create a Super Device, a device where you can directly control all other nearby devices that you own. You can, for example, transfer audio or video playback from your phone to your TV by simply dragging and dropping the logo of the device you want to control in the Super Device map.
The Super Device feature is also connected to Task Center, a separate feature that allows apps to travel through a second supported device without needing to be installed. You can then use the app from the second device with the same functionalities. Let’s say, you have a document on your phone that you want to view on a larger screen, you just need to go to Task Center and tap on the device you want it beamed to.
These features aren’t exactly unique to HarmonyOS as both Android and iOS have their own interconnectivity functionalities. What’s novel here, however, is the implementation. The Super Device map seems to make for a more user-friendly experience and saves you from having to navigate through different menus.
HarmonyOS is supposedly faster than Android because it was developed on Huawei’s own microkernel rather than the Linux-based kernel.
In case you’re unfamiliar, a kernel is a computer program in an operating system responsible for managing the operations of a device.
Huawei’s software reportedly has much less code than Android, which in theory enables faster processing speeds and more efficient allocation of resources. This then results in better performance and an operating system that feels more responsive. In practice though, until we’re able to compare, we can’t say for sure which among the two is faster.
However, in a video that appears to demonstrate the performance of the HarmonyOS 2, the latest version of the software, apps open a lot quicker than what’s normally seen on Android. Then again, this specific feature only works for Huawei’s own apps right now and not third-party apps, says the user in the video.
The latest major iteration of HarmonyOS also introduced service widgets. This is again a feature that’s already on Android and iOS but is new here. If you’ve used the feature before, it works almost the same here. You can create a widget to quickly see the information you need or control a function without opening the app itself. Additionally, you can resize widgets, choose from different formats, or even set them as icons to fit your home screen.
Looking at HarmonyOS, it’s quite clear that Huawei wanted to design an interface that will feel familiar to longtime Android users. And it largely succeeds in doing that, using a lot of visual elements from EMUI. It’s a fairly pleasant-looking design, highlighted by clean spaces, readable text and smooth animations.
HarmonyOS 2 also has a control panel that supposedly adds a lot of new functions, in addition to allowing for quick access to WiFi, Bluetooth and others.
Huawei also claims that HarmonyOS offers a high level of security that covers different areas.
When you’re connecting devices via Super Device, the system will assign different security clearances for each one depending on the importance of the data contained in them.
You can also enable Pure Mode on your device to make sure that when you open Huawei’s app store, the AppGallery, you only see apps that have passed testing. The Chinese firm adds that installed apps are still monitored for security risks and infringements.