For months, rumors have circulated that Chinese tech giant Huawei was hard at work on a homegrown operating system, an increasingly necessary step toward independence after US sanctions prompted Google to sever ties. It’s now here: HarmonyOS, or Hongmeng in China. By all appearances, it’s an interesting, innovative take on what a modern-day operating system should be. Just don’t call it an Android replacement.
HarmonyOS made its debut at Huawei’s developer conference in Dongguan, China, where Richard Yu, CEO of the company’s Consumer Business Group, talked up its wide-ranging potential. “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,” Yu said.
It’s true that HarmonyOS has been built with that breadth of applications in mind. The open-source platform is destined for smart TVs, smartwatches, and a bevy of Internet of Things doodads. Its microkernel architecture is lightweight and, more important, free of any legacy baggage from the Linux kernel that underpins Android. (The kernel is the core of an operating system, the hands that make the marionette dance. A microkernel is just a stripped-down version, tugging one or two strings instead of 10.) Huawei touts HarmonyOS as having a “Deterministic Latency Engine,” a fancy way of saying that it can better prioritize resources when apps and functions compete over them than Android can.
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