Huawei launched the second version of its own operating system today, pushing it to third-party device makers as it looks to create a viable alternative to Android of Google.
Last year, Huawei took the wraps off HarmonyOS, it’s own cross-device operating system. It came after the company was put on the U.S. Entity List, a blacklist that restricted some U.S. companies from selling their products to the Chinese tech giant.
Google suspended business activity with Huawei, forcing the firm to release flagship smartphones without a licensed version of the U.S. company’s Android operating system. That’s not a big deal in China where Google services like Gmail or search are blocked. But, it is important in Huawei’s international markets where consumers are used to using such apps.
While Huawei became the number one smartphone maker in the world in the second quarter, most of that was thanks to the China market with its huge population, while international markets saw a sharp decline.
The latest move is designed to bolster the number of developers on board by increasing the amount of users of HarmonyOS. Ultimately, a strong developer and user base would benefit Huawei if it eventually uses HarmonyOS on its own smartphones, something it has not done yet.
Huawei touts HarmonyOS as a mobile operating system that can work across a number of different devices. Developers only need to create one version of the app that ports across multiple pieces of hardware, the company claims.
On Thursday, Huawei launched HarmonyOS 2.0 and said that a beta version of the operating system will be open to developers for devices like smartwatches, TVs and in-car head units from September 10 and for smartphones in December.
From those dates, developers will be able to experiment and develop apps for HarmonyOS. “Maybe starting from next year we will see smartphones with HarmonyOS,” Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer division, said during a keynote speech on Thursday.
Huawei’s own smartphones do not use HarmonyOS yet. Bryan Ma, vice president of devices research at IDC, said that device makers might be interested in having HarmonyOS as a “fallback option” in case they face similar bans on using Google. But they might not necessarily want to work with Huawei.