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Huawei operating system coming to smartphones in Asia

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An update of HarmonyOS, the operating system developed by Huawei, means it will now be installed in a wider range of products, including its smartphones.

It was showcased in a major conference streamed worldwide on Wednesday ahead of its launch across Asia.

There is no date for the operating system’s global rollout yet.

Huawei also showed off a new smartwatch model, tablet, and accessories, with a focus on how HarmonyOS works across devices and home appliances.

A trade ban imposed by the US last year effectively prevented Huawei devices from working fully with Google’s Android platform because it blocked access to essential apps like Gmail.

The trade ban imposed by former US President Donald Trump did not stop Huawei handsets from using Android altogether but limited their functionality.

HarmonyOS has so far only been available in some smart TVs.

However, Huawei said it did not consider Harmony to be a replacement for Android, which accounted for 85.4% of smartphones shipped in 2019.

Apple’s iOS had the remaining 14.6%, according to the research firm IDC.

Other operating systems such as Samsung’s Tizen and Amazon’s Fire have failed to disrupt the handset market.

No new phones

During Wednesday’s launch, the focus remained firmly on how the new operating system works with other internet connected devices, such as tablets, smart speakers and televisions.

It showed versions of the new system running on its phones, and also on two new products – the Huawei Watch 3 and MatePad Pro tablet.

There was no new Huawei smartphone revealed, with the company saying its next major model, the P50, did not yet have a planned release date.

But it did tease the upcoming device with a partly-obscured render of the phone’s back, showing four cameras contained in an array of two large circles.

In its video demos, Huawei suggested that files and other content could be passed between phones, tablets, TVs and computers with ease by using its unified HarmonyOS system.

“HarmonyOS is designed to provide the glue between a growing array of connected devices that Huawei is targeting,” commented Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight.

“Huawei will be hoping that it can follow Apple’s lead, by having a single software platform that extends in all directions, providing a seamless experience to customers that buy into its ecosystem of products.”

China’s official Xinhua News Agency reports that the Shenzhen-based tech giant is anticipating 300 million devices to be equipped with HarmonyOS by the end of the year.

There was great excitement in China when the operating system launched, with one person calling it the possible “start of our technological take-off”.

“The long-awaited system is here,” said one social media user on micro-blogging site Weibo.

“Building the world’s largest mobile phone system is just around the corner!” another added.

But there also looked to be some teething issues, with some users saying they couldn’t update to the OS immediately on their phones – which got responses from others calling for them to continue trying.–BBC

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