Huawei is preparing to launch a new version of its operating system, HarmonyOS Next, that will cut ties with Android and its apps. The company announced HarmonyOS Next at its developer conference in September and said it will release a developer preview in early 2024.
HarmonyOS Next is based on Huawei’s OpenHarmony and is described as “a pure version of the HarmonyOS operating system without Android libraries” by Huawei Central. This means that the new OS will not support APK formats, which are the files used to install apps on Android devices. Instead, the upcoming OS will only support HAP formats.
Huawei launched HarmonyOS in 2021 as a response to the US trade ban that prevented the company from using Google services and apps on its devices. HarmonyOS is based on the Android open source project (AOSP) with some changes to the user interface and features.
However, HarmonyOS Next will abandon Android apps altogether, and focus on building a pure HarmonyOS app ecosystem. According to Huawei, this will improve the performance, security, and compatibility of HarmonyOS apps, as well as the connection between different devices running HarmonyOS.
Huawei is not the first company to try to create its own operating system and app ecosystem. Samsung developed Tizen OS for mobile devices to compete with Android. However, it was unsuccessful and now powers its smart TVs and wearables.
Microsoft also attempted to challenge Android and iOS with Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile, but eventually gave up and switched its apps and services to Android and iOS.
It remains to be seen whether Huawei can succeed in creating a viable alternative to Android, especially in the global market where Google services and apps are widely used and preferred by consumers. Huawei will need to convince developers and users to adopt HarmonyOS Next and its apps, which could be a difficult task given the dominance of Android and iOS.