HarmonyOS is Huawei’s alternative operating system that was created after the company was banned in the US and lost its Android license. The reality is the operating system is less of a new alternative and more of a slapdash fork of Android 10, according to a new report from Ron Amadeo at Ars Technica.
HarmonyOS was initially pitched as a wholly distinct OS from Android and iOS, something that would be just as at home on smart home appliances (like the company’s Honor Vision TV) as it would on smartphones. The announcement was a hopeful promise that losing access to US businesses wouldn’t stop Huawei from innovating, but Amadeo’s experience with the beta highlights some disappointing discoveries:
Getting developer access requires a two-day background check that includes sending copies of your passport, personal ID, and credit card to Huawei
You don’t actually run the beta OS in its emulator; it’s streamed to you, Google Stadia-style, from (presumably) a phone running the beta in China
Most importantly, HarmonyOS seems to be a fork of Android 10 with the word “Android” find-and-replaced with “Harmony”
HarmonyOS was likely always going to be most popular in China, but the fact that the new OS appears to be a continuation of Huawei’s EMUI skin with potentially slower access to Android updates through the Open Source Android Project is a major strike against it being used anywhere else. It might be good enough to not offend the US government and satisfy Chinese authorities, but quick text edits and an invasive application process do not an appetizing operating system make.
Read Amadeo’s whole deep dive of detective work dissecting the beta, along with some jabs at Huawei’s fluff-filled developer documentation for a hypothetical “super virtual device,” over at Ars Technica.