Following the announcement of its first 2021 foldable, Huawei confirmed that its own operating system, HarmonyOS, would officially be coming to smartphones starting in April this year.
The 30-minute 22 February event stream saw Huawei Consumer BG CEO, Richard Yu, provide an update on the state of the company’s mobile business, before introducing its newest smartphone – the Huawei Mate X2 – finishing the address with word that HarmonyOS would finally be arriving on Huawei’s smartphones in the coming months.
As a platform, the HarmonyOS 2.0 beta – complete with smartphone support – was made available in December 2020, with the company promising that a full release of the new operating system would arrive on its smartphones sometime in 2021.
While no specific date was mentioned during this latest announcement, Yu proclaimed that “Huawei flagship phone users will be able to upgrade their phones to HarmonyOS starting from this April,” going on to confirm that the newly-launched Mate X2 would be the first phone to support the operating system, when it releases.
Currently, the Mate X2 is cited as running EMUI 11 atop Android 10 on Huawei’s website, but while the company has billed HarmonyOS as its own platform, a deep-dive into the Harmony OS 2.0 beta and its development tools, conducted by Ars Technica in early February, revealed that despite the marketing speak, HarmonyOS was essentially open-source Android 10 with some liberal rebranding.
Early testing has suggested that there’s little difference, beyond the substitution of the ‘Android’ name with HarmonyOS’ – at least in the platform’s guise as of February – and that differentiating features won’t likely manifest until future releases roll out. The final HarmonyOS beta is set to release on 31 March, after which the OS will roll out officially.
Huawei has gone on record to say that it hopes some 200 million devices will be running on HarmonyOS 2.0 before the year’s end. We’re just left wondering how many of those will be available outside of China and what benefits the move from Android to HarmonyOS presents considering the current state of the platform.