Is Huawei's HarmonyOS a 'rip-off' of Google Android?
Tired with the US restrictions, Huawei has announced to build its own operating system (OS) called HarmonyOS. With this the company hopes to end the dependency on market leader Google's Android. Huawei is all set to bring smartphones with the indigenously-built OS this year but the first look of HarmonyOS has been termed as an "Android fork".
A report in Ars Technica that got access to HarmonyOS in Beta has found no discernible difference between the "all-new" OS and Android, calling the OS development as "fake it till you make it".
"The way Huawei describes the OS to the press and in developer documents doesn't seem to have much to do with what the company is actually shipping," the report claimed.
"The developer documents appear almost purposefully written to confuse the reader; any bit of actual shipping code to which you hold up a magnifying glass looks like Android with no major changes," it added.
The company announced the latest version of HarmonyOS in September last year, saying that HarmonyOS 2.0 brings a comprehensive upgrade to its existing distributed capabilities, including software bus, data management and security.
The Chinese conglomerate began work on its own OS as major chips and technologies from the US were not available to the company since May 16, 2019 due to restrictions imposed by the earlier Donald Trump administration amid the trade war between US and China.
Huawei's consumer businesses faced a tough time due to inability to use Google's ecosystem in overseas markets.
The company has announced that in April 2021, it will open the OS to 128MB-4GB devices and in October 2021, HarmonyOS will be opened for devices above 4GB.
According to Ars Technica, you get "your first inkling of HarmonyOS' Android-ness when you boot up the phone".
The phone shows an exact copy of Huawei's 'EMUI' Android skin, but the 'About' screen now says HarmonyOS and has been scrubbed of all mentions of Android. The official line is that Huawei ported over the EMUI Android skin to HarmonyOS.
"However, all the bits under the Android skin also appear to be Android," it said.
If one visits the Huawei App Gallery, one can choose from any number of "system info" apps, which will all identify the phone as running "Android 10 Q".
According to the report, Huawei engineers "have even perfectly copied every single Android 10 feature".
In the Huawei App Gallery, one can see apps from Google, Microsoft, Amazon, TikTok, WeChat, Tencent, Baidu, Weibo, Evernote, and more.
In December last year, Google had released its open-source operating system Fuchsia to the contributors from the public. Fuchsia is designed to work across the Internet of Things (IoT) and other connected devices and will take Huawei HarmonyOS head on.
Huawei, however, is confident that HarmonyOS will officially be open-source and developers will be able to gain access to emulators, SDK ((software development kit) packages, and IDE (integrated development environment) tools.
According to the company, with the support of more 1.8 million registered developers worldwide, AppGallery and the HMS ecosystem has continued to show progress this year.
AppGallery currently has over 96,000 apps integrated with HMS Core and more than 490 million global active users. In addition, it also achieved a record 261 billion app downloads and distributions between January and August 2020, the company said recently.
*Edited from an IANS report