After years of speculation Huawei has finally unveiled HarmonyOS: a new mobile operating system that is much more than a simple Android rival, but will also power Huawei’s entire ecosystem of mobile, portable and smart-home devices.
Huawei has unveiled HarmonyOS alongside it MatePad tablet series and Watch 3 wearables, but we here at Tech Advisor also had the opportunity to test the new operating system for ourselves, in a few days with the 12.6in MatePad Pro.
Head to ours Practical forecast of HarmonyOS for our first impressions, or read about everything you need to know about Harmony, including what app works, what devices it will support, and whether you can upgrade your phone or tablet to the new OS.
What is HarmonyOS?
Huawei touts HarmonyOS as “a future-proof distributed operating system.” This basically means it’s the company’s own operating system, designed to work on devices from IoT and smart to wearable home products, in-car infotainment systems and mobile devices – including smartphones.
According to Huawei, a developer could build an experience using HarmonyOS for one product category and the platform could then adapt this experience to work on other product types with minimal effort.
What new devices support HarmonyOS?
HarmonyOS has just been officially launched, with version 2.0 offering smartphone compatibility for the first time. Version 1.0 was first seen running on the company’s smart TVs and its AX3 WiFi router.
Huawei has officially launched the OS in one new trio of MatePad and MatePad Pro tablets, next to the Watch 3 and Watch 3 Pro. It is also revealed that the software will be included in the P50 phones when they launch quickly.
The company hopes to have HarmonyOS 2.0 on more than 200 million devices by the end of 2021; he is a figure composed not only of Huawei’s products but also of its partners.
Can I upgrade my phone or tablet to HarmonyOS?
The smartphone-compatible HarmonyOS 2.0 beta went live in December 2020 but the company has confirmed at the presentation of its latest release – the Mate X2 – On February 22, 2021, “flagship phone users will be able to upgrade their phones to HarmonyOS starting this April,” the X2 being the first smartphone to get the upgrade.
At the end of that date April is back to June, but anyway the upgrade to HarmonyOS will be possible soon.
As of June 1, some Huawei users in China have already been presented with the option to sign up for early access to HarmonyOS via the My Huawei app, while a Weibo escape also released a short list of devices expected to access HarmonyOS 2.0 in June through the software update, stating that Huawei will be ready to push these updates out and that more devices are expected to adhere to this list at the moment. worthy:
HarmonyOS replaces Android in Huawei phones?
Yes and no … Huawei’s own documentation and marketing surrounding HarmonyOS suggests that it serves as a complete end-to-end replacement for Android on its smartphones and tablets.
However, ArsTechnica conducted an in-depth review of the HarmonyOS 2.0 beta, using its development tools, and concluded that, in its current state, HarmonyOS 2.0 was essentially Android (version 10) entirely out of name.
Some key components of HarmonyOS 2.0 still refer to Android, which the company has used to power its smartphones since they first came on the market.
U mo practical test of the software suggested similar, with an experience that is lately close to EMUI, although it has modified a bit and with some new aesthetic flourishes.
While the official marketing and development documentation for HarmonyOS appears to be written intentionally to offset the fact that it’s essentially a bifurcated version of Android, it appears to be based on Google’s mobile operating system, to say the least. replace Android on the company’s smartphones isn’t exactly accurate.
Will Android apps work on HarmonyOS?
Yes. Well, to the same extent that Huawei’s recent Android devices are doing, it’s worth noting that any apps that don’t rely on Google Mobile services will do well.
HarmonyOS uses the same AppGallery app store that Huawei introduced in Android, and every app I’ve tested has gone well on the new system.
It also offers the same petal search tool, which allows users to easily search for .apk files and install common Android apps that are not included in the AppGallery. In my texts Instagram, Netflix, and Disney + have been perfect in HarmonyOS.
The only apps that won’t work are the same ones that won’t work on recent Huawei Android devices: any Google app, and any third-party apps that rely on Google Mobile services for data authentication or synchronization. . Those include the likes of Todoist and Zero, but it will take users some trial and error to understand which of their apps will work smoothly and which won’t.
What do you like about using HarmonyOS?
We tested HarmonyOS on the new 12.6in MatePad Pro and we can confirm that in use it feels a lot like the Huawei EMUI Android skin – with a whole bunch of iOS / iPadOS features thrown in the mix as well.
Aesthetically, it looks a lot like EMUI, with the same design language, color scheme, icons, and even the Android notification system.
There have been changes though. For example, scrolling from the left side of the screen now lowers the notification flag, while a swipe to the right pulls you toward the slightly redesigned control center.
On the tablet at least there’s also a new app dock that sits along the bottom of the home screen with shortcuts to a few apps of your choice, plus your most recently used one – though that’s not expected. to be included in the smartphone versions of the OS.
Widgets also have a renewed focus, similar to iOS 14 and what we have seen of Android 12 so far. These include popular Android widgets plus some additional Harmony offers, with more to come. There is also a new option to expand folders into a larger format.
As mentioned earlier, the apps are installed via the Huawei AppGallery, and so far all compatible Android apps – i.e. those that don’t rely on Google Mobile Services – seem to work fine , installed both via AppGallery and via Petal Search with an .apk file.
Multitasking with those apps is also improved. Not only can you manage multiple apps in split-screen, but Huawei’s App Multiplier will allow you to manage multiple windows side by side from the same app. The company says nearly 4,000 apps already support the feature – though of course you shouldn’t expect it to work with anything you’re sideloaded.
Huawei has also built a strong emphasis on the ecosystem here. Compatible Huawei clothing and accessories pair perfectly when you turn them on, and you can quickly share files between nearby HarmonyOS devices as well.
There is also an improved collaboration with Huawei’s Windows 10 laptops. You can mirror your screen to your Windows device or widen the screens to use your tablet or phone as a secondary display. It is also possible to split the wire drag-and-drop wirelessly.