Huawei’s Harmony OS will be open-sourced and with its own ARK compiler

Huawei unveiled more details about its in-house developed operating system – Harmony – and its new user interface – EMUI 10 - at an event held in China in a bid to reduce its reliance on American tech companies, especially Google’s Android.

Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's Consumer Business Group, speaking at the 2019 Developers Conference said that it intends to continue to use Android moving forward for its smartphones but if not, Huawei is capable of rolling out its new OS within two days.

In May, Huawei was added to the Entity List which halts the ability to do business with US companies. The sanctions were up to August 19 but the Trump administration softened its stances at the G20 Summit, though details are unknown.

According to industry experts, there are good chances of its Mate 30 series smartphones, which are to be unveiled in October, to be powered by the new OS if the US ban continues.

The Harmony OS has been developed to power smartphones, watches, car infotainment, laptops, internet of things and smart home devices.

Honor TV to be powered by new OS

Moving forward, Yu said Huawei will lay the foundations for Harmony OS in the Chinese market, and then expand it further to the global ecosystem.

The first device to be powered by the new OS will be Honor Vision TV, which will be unwrapped on Saturday.

Over the next three years, Yu said that Harmony OS will be optimised and gradually adopted across a broader range of smart devices.

The Chinese company said that the OS version 2.0 of its microkernel will be released next year while version 3.0 arrives in 2021.

“Huawei will open up and share its core capabilities in areas like connectivity, cameras, and AI. It will work closely with ecosystem partners to deliver apps and services that provide consumers with the best possible experience and bring new life to the industry,” he said.

Harmony is microkernel-based like Google’s in-development Fuchsia OS but uses a “non-distributed design,” unlike the new Harmony OS which is distributed and open-source operating system designed to deliver a cohesive user experience across all devices and scenarios.

 “To support this, we felt it was important to have an operating system with improved cross-platform capabilities. We needed an OS that supports all scenarios, that can be used across a broad range of devices and platforms, and that can meet consumer demand for low latency and strong security," he said.

Moreover, he said that Harmony OS is completely different from Android and iOS and it supports seamless collaboration across devices.

Harmony uses less codes than Android

Harmony OS is compatible with HTML5, Linux, and Android apps but Yu said that some compatibility issues need some development.

“The apps will all be able to run on our OS in the future. The app developers have to develop the apps only once but the same app can be deployed across a range of different devices,” he said.

Through this implementation, Huawei aims to establish an integrated and shared ecosystem across devices, create a secure and reliable runtime environment, and deliver a holistic intelligent experience across every interaction with every device.

Harmony is a lightweight, compact operating system with powerful functionality, Yu said and added that the microkernel has about “one-thousandth the amount of code in the Linux kernel and the probability of an attack is greatly reduced.”

Android has 100 million lines of code while Harmony OS has over 20 million lines.

It is hard to deliver a smooth experience across different devices with a huge amount of codes in Android and Linux core and he said that multi-device interconnection raises higher requirements for security while close coupling between app ecosystem and hardware compromises user experience and development efficiency.

The smartphone apps have 3.9 million apps, smartwatches have more than 20,000 apps while the TV OS has more than 10,000 apps and car infotainment OS has more than 100 apps.

Future-oriented OS

Yu said that Harmony is a future-oriented OS with low latency, high throughput and high reliability.

Huawei’s first static compiler - ARK Compiler - will support unified compilation in multiple languages (C/C++, Java, Javascript, Kotlin, etc) to increase development productivity.

“HarmonyOS is the first OS to use formal verification in device Trusted Execution Environment (TEE), significantly improving security,” he said.



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