Huawei’s HarmonyOS Is Just a Copy of Android

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

Credit: Muhamad Mizan bin Ngateni / Shutterstock

Huawei’s HarmonyOS is just a Chinese version of the Android Operating System (OS).

HarmonyOS is Huawei’s answer to their lack of software suppliers due to their ban from receiving US exports by the US government back in 2019. Huawei President of Consumer Software Wang Chenglu was noted to have said that the HarmonyOS “is not a copy of Android, nor is it a copy of iOS.

Ron Amadeo of Ars Technica, however, discovered that the only difference Huawei’s HarmonyOS has with Google’s Android OS is the name and not much else. In his article, he called the HarmonyOS “an Android fork” and that the developer documents appear almost purposefully written to confuse its reader.

After an invasive sign-up process to obtain the OS’ emulator and receiving a video stream of the OS instead, Amadeo first noticed that any mention of the word “Android” in the “About” screen was replaced with HarmonyOS.

Huawei’s P40 Android Phone was reported to be able to switch from its Android OS to Huawei’s HarmonyOS through a China-only closed beta. Credit: Huawei

The Technical Features Page from Huawei’s HarmonyOS Documentation mentioned a “super virtual device” that is seemingly defined ambiguously by its writers. Amadeo described the definition as Huawei detailing a network for a patent application.

HarmonyOS’ major “technical features” also don’t provide anything new according to Amadeo. The HarmonyOS’ Distributed Virtual Bus and Distributed Device Virtualisation, Distributed Data Management, and Distributed Task scheduling has similarities with features already a part of the Android OS.

Amadeo then theorised that maybe Huawei only meant to change the Android branding to HarmonyOS instead of creating a new OS, which might be enough for China in his opinion.

Amadeo also predicted that the HarmonyOS will fail to sell internationally should Huawei decide to become an OS developer. This is due to HarmonyOS’ lack of app support for apps like Gmail, Youtube, Facebook, and Google Maps.


Written by John Paul Joaquin