HarmonyOS 101: Huawei’s operating system explained in easy terms for non-techies

There are a lot of technical articles out there explaining what HarmonyOS is and what it is about. If you are a non-techie, a lot of it blows over your head. Here is a simple, non-technical article explaining Huawei’s new operating system to you.

What is HarmonyOS?

HarmonyOS is an operating system developed for all kinds of connected devices – smart TVs, smart watches, smart homes, smart speakers, etc.

To understand what an operating system is, think of Android OS and iOS. They are operating systems or platforms – softwares on which Android phones and iPhones run respectively.

Will HarmonyOS be used on smartphones?

While HarmonyOS is developed primarilly for non-smartphones, it can be used on smartphones as well. Huawei says that for now, Android OS will continue to be the operating system on their smartphones, unless things get out of hand and they have no choice but to switch.

According to Huawei, with a few minor tweaks, they can switch from Android to HarmonyOS for their phones in as short as two days.

HarmonyOS by Huawei

Are Android apps compatible with HarmonyOS?

Right now, Android apps can not run on HarmonyOS, but Huawei says that they can be tweaked or modified to do so. In addition to Android apps, HTML5, and Linux apps can also be ported over to the new OS. Simply put, for now, you cannot use Android apps on a HarmonyOS device.

Does HarmonyOS have an app store?

Huawei already has an app store, called AppGallery, and is working with developers to have Android apps ported and published there. AppGallery will be available for Harmony OS.

huawei appgallery appstore for harmonyos

How soon will we see HarmonyOS in a device?

The first device to run Huawei’s new OS has been announced by Huawei – two smart TVs called Honor Smart Screen and Smart Screen Pro.

Honor Smart Screen smart TV sells for 3799 yuan (or about $538), while the Smart Screen PRO costs 4799 yuan, or about $680.

There are rumours that the first smartphone to run HarmonyOS will be announced soon. The story is that Huawei’s Mate 30 series have not been given Google Play certification yet and so will not support Google Play services and apps. If Google does not grant the certification, Huawei may be forced to produce the Mate 30 devices with its new operating system. All of this will play out before the end of 2019, so it won’t be too long before we see how things go.

will huawei mate 30 run harmonyos

Who manages Harmony OS?

HarmonyOS is developed and managed by Huawei. The company began development work in 2017 and has worked solo mostly till now. But it plans to make the platform open source and invite other manufacturers to join in co-developing and managing it. This is scheduled to happen in 2020.

Fellow Chinese brands like OPPO, Vivo, and others may be interested in signing up so as to have a contingency plan should they also find themselves with their backs against the wall.

Will HarmonyOS allow root access?

Huawei says that, for security reasons, HarmonyOS does not permit root access. This is to avoid some of the security issues that plague Android OS. But chances are that you don’t care; you are not a techie anyway, so don’t worry about it.

What is the difference between Harmony OS and HongMeng OS?

Huawei’s operating system was initially reported as being known as HongMeng OS. However, Huawei has made an official announcement of HarmonyOS as the official name, so they are one and the same thing.

Wrapping Up

It is early days yet for Huawei’s new operating system. There is no question about how successful it can be as a software for wearables and Internet of things devices. As a smartphone platform, however, it is a different matter. We will have to wait and see how things play out between Huawei on the one side and the US government on the other side. That game of chess is the first frontier. What happens after that remains to be seen.

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3 comments

  1. Detailed and simple. Wish all teachers could break things down this way. Once beaten twice shy. Huawei have taken an intelligent model to avoid possible collapse in relationship with Google.
    They didn’t release the features completely to support smartphones, yet it is possible in few days if need be, that’s smart.

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