What you need to know
- The OS will launch next month globally.
- It can run Android apps with no additional customizations needed.
- It's been ready for over a year, but is launching now given the US ban.
- It's expected to be compatible with more than just phones, including computers, TVs and more.
Updated 9:04am PST: Huawei has clarified when its mobile OS will actually launch. According to a company spokesperson, the software isn't expected to be available until the end of 2019—and that's just in China. An international rollout is expected sometime in 2020, meaning Huawei users are still months away from getting their hands on the OS.
Huawei's own home-grown OS is launching next month as an alternative to Android. Since the US ban a few weeks ago, Google and other US companies have been forced to stop supplying services to Huawei, and these include the next version of Android. Huawei's own OS – which is code-named HongMeng – is the company's backup plan and will be rolled out commercially globally next month.
TechRadar cites the head of Huawei in the Middle East as saying the OS will launch next month.
"Huawei knew this was coming and was preparing. The OS was ready in January 2018 and this was our 'Plan B'.
Alaa Elshimy, Managing Director and Vice President of Huawei Enterprise Business Group Middle East continued: ""We did not want to bring the OS to the market as we had a strong relationship with Google and others and did not want to ruin the relationship. Now, we are rolling it out next month"
On May 20, the US effectively banned Huawei from doing business with US companies without special dispensation, citing national security fears. A temporary reprieve was put into place until August 19 to ensure existing devices could continue to receive updates and security patches, but the long-term effects are yet unknown, even though it looks like they could be resolved as part of a trade deal between the US and China.
The new OS is launching months before the end of the temporary reprieve, and is a sure sign that Huawei wants to remain in control of its own future. The OS, which is known internally as HongMeng, is expected to be compatible with more than just phones, including computers, tablets, TVs, smart watches, wearables and more.
All Android-compatible apps are expected to work with the new OS without the new for further enhancements or customizations according to Elshimy, who added that users will be able to download these apps from the Huawei AppGallery. It remains to be seen whether Huawei's AppGallery will have the entire suite of apps, although Huawei's userbase is considerably larger than the likes of Windows Phone and BlackBerry OS before it.
Beyond just the OS, Elshimy explained that Huawei is self reliant and mostly immune to the US sanctions.
"The US sanctions won't affect the company's operating system and the chipsets in any way as we are self-reliant in many aspects.
"We have all the chipsets expect the Intel chips for PCs and servers. Every single storage player in the market is using Qualcomm chipset and we are the only one using our own chipset. That is why we can go at the speed we want.
The trade war doesn't just affect Huawei's use of the OS, as the company has also been banned from launching devices with microSD card expansion, and features such as WIFi and Bluetooth are also unknown. When asked, Elshimy said that WiFi is an international standard and Huawei is one of the biggest contributors to the WiFi Alliance.
"In my view, the biggest loser will be the alliance if they keep us out of the alliance. From an industry point of view, it is a standard and it is good if you meet the standard [but you] don't need to be part of the alliance. The same answer applies to Bluetooth and SD cases."
What the future holds for the world's second largest smartphone manufacturer remains to be seen, but Huawei's CEO is quietly confident. Ren Zhengfei recently said that being a private company allows Huawei to make large investments more easily, and no one will be able to catch up with Huawei over the next two or three years.
Of course, if the company can't persuade users to buy into its own OS, it may eventually go the way of companies like BlackBerry and Microsoft, which would be a shame given the P30 Pro and Huawei Mate X are two of my favorite devices this year.
Portable charging accessories we recommend
Whether it's to keep your phone topped up or for a small lightweight charge while traveling, here's the travel accessories we recommend for your phone.
AUKEY CC-Y12 18W PD Car Charger ($17 at Amazon)
This is a super-compact USB-C car charger you can plug in, shut the cover, and forget it's there until you need to charge your phone at top speed. Isn't that handy?
Anker Powerline+ C to C 2.0 Cable (3ft) ($14 at Amazon)
This double-braided cable can withstand getting pulled around your gear bag or your car, and with this durability, it shouldn't leave you stranded when your phone is dying.
Anker PowerCore 10000 USB-PD battery pack ($46 at Amazon)
When you're traveling you don't want anything to slow you down, so make sure you have a portable battery back that charges your phone quickly. This Anker 10000mAh pack supports 18W USB PD and it's incredibly light.
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