Huawei Officially Reveals Harmony OS
Huawei has finally unveiled its first-party operating system called the Harmony OS, which has been in development for several years. Ever since the US enacted a trade ban on the Chinese smartphone company, the development of this OS has sort of been a contingency plan for Huawei.
At the Huawei Developer Conference, Huawei shared the first details about its in-house OS, but the company wasn’t ready to show off Harmony on smartphones just yet. The company will show off Harmony OS on the Honor Vision TV. For now, Android remains the go-to mobile OS for Huawei and Honor smartphones and tablets.
Harmony OS is microkernel-based, like Google’s in-development Fuchsia OS. Huawei says that Fuchsia uses a “non-distributed design,” unlike Harmony OS. Huawei says this allows for flexible deployment on various devices, easing app development in all scenarios. To justify both of these claims, Huawei brings up that it is “hard to deliver a smooth experience across different devices with [a] huge amount of [code] in Android and Linux core.” That’s because “multi-device interconnection [raises] requirements for security” and the “close-coupling between [the] app ecosystem and [the] hardware compromises [the] user experience and development efficiency.”
The use of a microkernel also improves security, according to Huawei. Huawei says it is using “formal verification methods” to secure the TEE kernel. Huawei says this technique is mainly applied to security-critical fields like aerospace and chipsets, “significantly contributing to system reliability and robustness.” The microkernel can be “scaled on demand for wider system security.” In closing, Huawei boasts an EAL 5+ certification level for the new OS.
Unlike Android which uses the Linux kernel’s scheduling mechanism, Harmony OS uses a “deterministic latency engine” that provides “precise resource scheduling with real-time load analysis and forecasting and app characteristics matching.” The result is a 25.7% and 55.6% improvement in response latency and latency fluctuation respectively.
Harmony “decouples” the OS from the hardware, so developers can develop once and deploy across hardware. Developers will be able to use Huawei’s ARK Compiler to compile code from multiple languages like C/C++, Java, and Kotlin for Harmony OS. Huawei will be providing an IDE to support app development across multiple device types, including televisions, car kits, smart speakers, smartphones, smartwatches, and more. Huawei will be open-sourcing Harmony OS in the future.
The Chinese company says version 2.0 of its microkernel will be released next year while version 3.0 arrives in 2021. Huawei says they can switch to Harmony OS right now because the migration is not very difficult due to the nature of the microkernel. However, the company is choosing to stick with Android on smartphones right now over consideration of its existing partners. Huawei says that its new OS represents an entirely new generation of operating systems as it enables AI capability in different scenarios from PCs, tablets, and other domains.