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Huawei’s Android-baiting HarmonyOS will come to smartphones in 2021

Huawei has said its new version of HarmonyOS operating system will be ready for development use on smartphones beginning in December, and expects phones with the new software to come in 2021. Beyond this, HarmonyOS will be made available to other hardware makers for use on non-Huawei devices.

Huawei Business Group chairman Richard Yu announced HarmonyOS 2.0, the updated version of its still-young software platform, on stage during the company’s annual developer conference taking place in China this week, along with the news of its impending arrival on smartphones.

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“The beta version of HarmonyOS 2.0 will be available for developers on September 10 for use on smart TVs, wearables, and in-car head units,” Yu said, “Later this year in December the SDK, documentation, tools, and simulators for HarmonyOS 2.0 will also be available for smartphones. So starting from next year, we will see smartphones with HarmonyOS.”

HarmonyOS is Huawei’s operating system designed for all connected devices, and a replacement for Google’s Android software on Huawei’s products. Huawei currently uses the open-source version of Android, due to the U.S. government’s restrictions on it, but has since accelerated development of HarmonyOS, its App Gallery application store, and its own ecosystem of connected hardware.

HarmonyOS was launched this time last year on the Honor Vision smart screen, and some aspects of the first version — Huawei’s MeeTime video chat, and a multi-screen collaboration feature — found its way into EMUI 10, the user interface used over the top of Android. It was also used in its burgeoning HiCar automotive software. Now, Huawei has launched HarmonyOS 2.0, which Huawei’s software engineering president Wang Chenglu calls, “fundamentally better,” with improvements to speed and reliability.

HarmonyOS 2.0 will no longer only be available for smart screens like the Huawei Vision. It’s ready for use on tablets, wearables, and in the near future smartphones too. Huawei also says HarmonyOS will be made available to other hardware manufacturers, meaning the software won’t be limited to use on Huawei or Honor connected devices. Huawei announced a partnership with three manufacturers in China, which will use HarmonyOS on smart home products, including a connected oven.

The HarmonyOS 2.0 announcement is most relevant to developers, inside and outside of Huawei, at this stage, but the timeline shown by the company indicates it may not be long before we see the software on a commercially available mobile or wearable product.

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