Huawei's Harmony OS will expand to phones with next upgrade
A top Huawei exec details changes coming to the company's homegrown operating system at the Huawei Developer Conference.
Katie CollinsSenior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Harmony OS could start appearing on
as early as next year, according to the company's mobile CEO, Richard Yu. Speaking at the Huawei Developer Conference on Thursday, Yu detailed the latest version of the company's homegrown operating system software, which will be a fully open-source platform and work on more powerful devices than it does currently.
During Yu's keynote, he said that Harmony would be available on phones "maybe starting next year," but a spokesman for the company later confirmed to CNET that Huawei would launch Harmony OS phones in 2021.
Yu first said he eventually intended to open up Harmony OS and have it run on phones last September, but over the past year Huawei has focused on growing its App Gallery -- its own version of the App Store or Google Play -- by getting more developers on board. Huawei now says it offers the third biggest app ecosystem in the world.
For Huawei, as the operating system spreads its wings, it's not simply about getting it on phones, but rather enabling a wider ecosystem of products to work together as more and more connected devices become available. This isn't just a part of the company's mobile strategy, but its strategy for the internet of things, which is increasingly becoming a reality thanks to the advent of the 5G next-generation network technology.
According to Huawei, apps developed for Harmony OS will work not just on smartphones, but across devices including TVs, watches and in-car systems, opening up possibilities not just to other phone manufacturers, but tech companies of all kinds.
The beta version of Harmony OS for TVs and smartwatches is available immediately, with a mobile software development kit coming in December.
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