Huawei HarmonyOS is about to be made available to smartphone users. On
September 10, 2020, Huawei released beta versions of HarmonyOS for TVs,
watches, and automotive head units, and invited app developers to
experiment and develop apps for the operating system. At the time,
Huawei also announced their intention to bring HarmonyOS to its phones.
The beta version of HarmonyOS for phones was released in December,
together with the SDK, development documents and tools, and simulators,
giving developers the chance to create HarmonyOS-based mobile phone apps
before the official launch.
Wang Chenglu, President of Huawei's Consumer Business Group Software
Engineering Dept, a major contributor to HarmonyOS, said that HarmonyOS
is the ideal operating system for the Internet of Everything era. He
said that HarmonyOS will provide users with more access to apps and
services and a smart life experience, disrupting the market and creating
To understand the significance of HarmonyOS, it is useful to zoom out
and see how it fits into the overall development of the Internet.
The Internet of Things (IoT) was invented long ago. Why hasn't it become
Throughout the history of the information technology industry, there
have been companies involved in technological revolutions. Many ompanies
have capitalized on such transformations of information technology to
achieve enormous commercial success
The concept of the Internet of Things is an increasingly familiar one,
but it has so far failed to change the world. Less than 20% of smart
devices are actually connected to a mobile or Wi-Fi network. The
installation rate of apps from household appliance vendors is less than
10%, and the usage rate of smart features is not even 1%. The potential
of the smart appliances is going to waste. Projecting a phone screen to
another device is still quite complicated, and the Internet of
Everything is still just a dot on the horizon.
The main reason has been the lack of communication technologies and
hardware devices that support the effective communication of a large
number of connected devices. Progress on AI and big data is still a
constraint on the development of IoT. However, in recent years, with the
rapid upgrade of hardware such as smartphones and the popularization of
5G and AI, a viable Internet of Things is gradually coming into view.
According to Huawei's Global Industry Outlook Report, by 2025, the
number of smart personal devices is expected to reach 40 billion, the
total number of connections globally will reach 100 billion, and the
number of wearable devices such as smartwatches and glasses will reach 8
billion. Data from Statista also shows that from 2015 to 2025, the
number smart devices per capita is expected to increase from two to
However, ecosystem fragmentation means that different devices cannot
collaborate with each other, and user experience suffers as a
consequence. Different devices have their own operating systems, making
communication between them quite a complicated proposition. Household
appliances such as smart refrigerators and robot vacuum cleaners are
supported by such a motley bunch of operating systems that many cannot
communicate with each other at all.
What's more, mobile Internet app innovation is still limited to isolated
operating systems. For example, watch apps are mainly limited to sports,
health, and personalized watch faces. TV apps focus on entertainment and
education. Almost all in-car apps are related to navigation and video.
In a world where an increasing number of individuals own multiple smart
devices, fragmentary single device ecosystems simply don't cut it any
more. App developers need to develop different versions of the same app
for different devices, generating heavy adaptation workload. Consumers
often find that the experience of an app is not consistent across
But problems also bring opportunities. There is a gap in the market for
an operating system that enables the interconnection of different
devices, and whoever delivers this system can float atop the rising tide
In the IoT era, what does an operating system need to be?
Today, the opportunities brought by IoT mark another turning point in
the history of operating systems. This time, HarmonyOS aims to be the
first mover, and a number of parties are working to rapidly develop an
ecosystem around this next-generation OS.
HarmonyOS aims to be the ideal operating system for the Internet of
Everything era. It can support smartphones and other smart devices
including TVs, automotive head units, and wearables. In the past, users
enjoyed personalized apps. With HarmonyOS, users can have personalized
devices, which better satisfy their needs. In the era of feature phones,
the hardware and software of a phone were fixed. In the smartphone era,
hardware was still fixed, but new ability to download apps offered users
a more personalized experience. Now, the revolutionary distributed
technology of HarmonyOS means that capabilities can be decoupled from
hardware, allowing multiple physically independent devices to converge
into one "Super Device". It can flexibly invoke and combine the software
and hardware capabilities that are most suitable for the current use
case, providing users with a smooth, seamless AI experience. HarmonyOS
enables devices to provide services based on users' requirement and
defines devices based on use cases to deliver optimal experience.
For example, if you open a map app on your phone and select a
destination, then as soon as you get in your car, the map is
automatically synchronized to the screen of the head unit. When you get
out of the car, the map switches seamlessly over to your watch. Hardware
equipped with HarmonyOS offers new levels of convenience. Connection is
as simple as tapping a phone against another household appliance. In
this way, you can check the status of your oven from the screen of your
phone. You can find a recipe in an app, and with a single tap on the
screen, set the corresponding temperature and time on your oven, making
it easier than ever to cook like a master chef. Household appliances
also actively communicate with you, reminding you to clean the oil
filter of the range hood, for example.
In the ecosystem construction of HarmonyOS, the biggest challenge is to
obtain the support of app developers and vendors. For app developers,
the distributed technology of HarmonyOS brings a platform for developing
innovative cross-device apps. For hardware manufacturers, HarmonyOS
presents dizzying range of opportunities.
This unique operating system is set to navigate on the rising tide of