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China Daily: Huawei shipped 1 million devices with HongMeng OS for testing

It was a secret project which started in 2012.

Joshua Lee | June 12, 01:12 pm

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Huawei has reportedly shipped one million devices with its in-house operating system (OS) installed. China Daily reported that these phones are being prepared for testing.

According to multiple sources, this new OS is likely to be called “Hong Meng” (鸿蒙) in China and “Oak OS” or “Ark OS” for the overseas market.

It might not be long before the world will be introduced to a market-ready Huawei-made OS.

In May 2019, Huawei’s Consumer Business CEO, Richard Yu said it will be “available in the fall of this year and at the latest, next spring”.

Conceptualised in 2012

According to Abacus News, Huawei’s OS was conceived in 2012 in Shenzhen in a bid to reduce the company’s vulnerability to the U.S. because of its reliance on Android.

Huawei’s engineers studied Android and iOS to come up with a light and fast microkernel.

A microkernel is a basic set of software that can provide the minimum amount of features and functions to implement an operating system.

The entire project was conducted in secret.

Huawei engineers worked in a specialised area, accessible only by registered staff cards. The area was closely guarded and phones were not allowed inside, according to South China Morning Post (SCMP)

Despite being seven years in the making, Huawei’s OS does not seem to be ready for the world.

Earlier in 2019, when American president Donald Trump banned American companies from supplying Huawei with parts and software, a Huawei spokesperson said:

“Huawei does have backup systems but only for use in extenuating circumstances.”

Even sources that SCMP spoke to said that the company “is not fully prepared to launch the OS” despite being tested “thousand of times”.

Compatibility with Android

Huawei’s OS will be able to work on various products such as smartphones, computers, tablets, and smart wear, and is compatible with all Android applications, according to Yu.

Furthermore, China Daily also reported that new OS will have “increased security functions to protect personal data”.

Being compatible with Android applications is important because most mobile phone users in the world use Android OS, and in turn, Android apps.

To put this into context, as of May 2019, Android’s mobile OS market share worldwide is more than 75 per cent.

Aside from being able to support a ready-made app ecosystem, having an OS which is compatible with Android apps means that Huawei phone users will not have to abandon their Android apps if they have to make the transition to a new operating system.

Additionally, Android app developers do not need to develop extra code for their apps in order to work on Huawei’s OS, if they are indeed compatible.

According to Forbes, Huawei has been reaching out to the developer community to persuade them to upload their apps to Huawei’s AppGallery, promising to provide “full support” if they decide to do so.

XDA Developers posted one such email invitation from Huawei to a developer, highlighting the 350 million Huawei phones that were shipped in the last two years, as well as 270 million monthly active users on its AppGallery.

Google: Ban could pose a security threat

Separately, Google has warned the Trump administration that the Huawei ban would be detrimental to national security.

This is because the Huawei OS which is modified from an open-source Android OS, will be vulnerable to hacking risks.

Cutting Google off from Huawei, the world’s second-largest smartphone maker, means that the former will not have access to the vast consumer data which drives its advertising.

In response to Google’s claim, director-general of China’s Information Consumption Alliance, Xiang Ligang, said that Google is instead motivated by concerns that HongMeng OS will reduce Android’s dominance.

Top image via imei21.com

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