This article was published on May 25, 2021

Huawei’s ‘replacement’ for Android will launch June 2, but does it stand a chance?

Hamony OS appears to just be a customized version of Android

Huawei’s ‘replacement’ for Android will launch June 2, but does it stand a chance?

Trump’s ban on Huawei was arguably the biggest single blow to the smartphone ecosystem in recent years, crippling the company’s prospects in western markets where access to Google services is essential for Android users. Since then, Huawei has been focusing on building its own mobile OS, and we now know it is set to arrive soon: Huawei announced that HarmonyOS — known as Hongmeng in China — will launch on June 2.

HarmonyOS has technically been around as an OS for the internet-of-things for a while, but Huawei has been devoting its resources towards making it more of a full-fledged smartphone OS. The company reportedly expects 200 million of its devices to be equipped with HarmonyOS by the end of the year, although it did not specify how many of these are expected to be smartphones.

Before the Trump ban, Huawei was expanding its global reach as one of the biggest mobile companies in tech, going toe-to-toe with Apple and Samsung in worldwide sales — it was even the number one smartphone maker for a while. But after the company’s devices were effectively barred from using a full-fledged version of Android, Huawei phones have gone from being some of the most hyped devices in any given year to something of an afterthought for western markets.

It’s hard to imagine HarmonyOS will do much to change that. The OS is basically a customized Android fork, sharing much code with Android 10 as of its version 2.0 beta. Without Google services, it’s unlikely the OS will help Huawei regain much mindshare outside of China. But you can bet it’s going to try.

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