HarmonyOS
HMOS Logo Icon.svg
Screenshot
Screenshot 20220511 145111 com.huawei.android.launcher.jpg
HarmonyOS 2.0 home screen on Huawei P20 Pro
DeveloperHuawei
Written inC, C++, Java, JS, eTS and Cangjie[1]
OS familyUnix-like
Working stateCurrent
Initial releaseAugust 9, 2019; 2 years ago (2019-08-09)
Latest release2.0.0.241 (May 2022 Security Update)[2] / May 20, 2022; 35 days ago (2022-05-20)
Latest preview3.0.0 Dev Preview Beta 2 / February 26, 2022; 3 months ago (2022-02-26)
Marketing targetInternet of Things, wireless routers, smartphones, tablet computers, smart TVs, smartwatches, smart speakers, personal computers, mixed reality headsets, virtual reality headsets, augmented reality headsets, cars, smart homes, enterprise, industry, aerospace
Available in76 languages
Update methodOver-the-air
Package manager.app on HAP[3] and APK-based (Ark Compiler)
Platforms64-bit ARM, RISC-V, x86, x64 and LoongArch[4]
Kernel typeMulti-kernel design (Linux kernel, HarmonyOS microkernel, or LiteOS)[5]
UserlandSystem Service Layer[6]
Default
user interface
EMUI/Emotion UI (multi-touch, GUI)
LicenseProprietary software except for open-source components
Preceded byLiteOS, EMUI and Android
Official websitewww.harmonyos.com/en/
Support status
Supported
OpenHarmony
OpenHarmonyLogo
DeveloperVarious (OpenAtom Foundation, Huawei and others)
Written inC, C++, JS, eTS and Cangjie[7]
OS familyLiteOS (Unix-like)
Working stateCurrent
Source modelOpen source
Initial releaseSeptember 10, 2019; 2 years ago (2019-09-10)
Latest release3.1 LTS / March 30, 2022; 2 months ago (2022-03-30)
Latest preview3.2.2 Daily Build / May 1, 2022; 54 days ago (2022-05-01)
Repositorygitee.com/openharmony
Marketing targetInternet of Things, smartwatches
Update methodOver-the-air
Package manager.app on HAP[8]
PlatformsARM, RISC-V, x86, x64 and LoongArch[9]
UserlandSystem Service Layer[10]
LicenseApache license
Preceded byLiteOS
Official websiteopenharmony.io
Support status
Supported
HarmonyOS
Simplified Chinese鸿蒙
Traditional Chinese鴻蒙

HarmonyOS (Chinese: 鸿蒙; pinyin: Hóngméng) is a distributed operating system developed by Huawei to collaborate and interconnect with multiple smart devices.[11][12] In its current multi-kernel design, the operating system selects suitable kernels from the abstraction layer for devices with diverse resources.[12][13][14] For IoT devices, the system is known to be based on LiteOS kernel; while for smartphones and tablets, it is based on a Linux kernel layer with AOSP libraries to support APK apps using ART through the Ark Compiler, in addition to native HarmonyOS apps.[15][16]

The system includes a communication base DSoftBus for integrating physically separate devices into a virtual Super Device, allowing one device to control others and sharing data among devices with distributed communication capabilities.[17][18][19] It supports several forms of apps, including the apps that can be installed from AppGallery on smartphones and tablets, installation-free Quick apps and lightweight Atomic Services accessible by users.[20][21][22]

HarmonyOS was first used in Honor smart TVs in August 2019[23] and later used in Huawei smartphones, tablets and smartwatches in June 2021.[24]

History

Origins

Reports surrounding an in-house operating system being developed by Huawei date back as far as 2012.[25][26] These reports intensified during the Sino-American trade war, after the United States Department of Commerce added Huawei to its Entity List in May 2019 under an indictment that it knowingly exported goods, technology and services of U.S. origin to Iran in violation of sanctions. This prohibited U.S.-based companies from doing business with Huawei without first obtaining a license from the government.[27][28][29][30][31] Huawei executive Richard Yu [zh] described an in-house platform as a "plan B" in case it is prevented from using Android on future smartphone products due to the sanctions.[32][33][34]

Prior to its unveiling, it was originally speculated to be a mobile operating system that could replace Android on future Huawei devices. In June 2019, an Huawei executive told Reuters that the OS was under testing in China, and could be ready "in months", but by July 2019, some Huawei executives described the OS as being an embedded operating system designed for IoT hardware, discarding the previous statements for it to be a mobile operating system.[35]

Some media outlets reported that this OS, referred to as "Hongmeng", could be released in China in either August or September 2019, with a worldwide release in the second quarter of 2020.[36][37] On 24 May 2019, Huawei registered "Hongmeng" as a trademark in China.[38] The name "Hongmeng" (Chinese: 鸿蒙; lit. 'Vast Mist') came from Chinese mythology that symbolizes primordial chaos or the world before creation.[39] The same day, Huawei registered trademarks surrounding "Ark OS" and variants with the European Union Intellectual Property Office.[40] In July 2019, it was reported that Huawei had also registered trademarks surrounding the word "Harmony" for desktop and mobile operating system software, indicating either a different name or a component of the OS.[41]

Release

On 9 August 2019, Huawei officially unveiled HarmonyOS at its inaugural developers' conference in Dongguan. Huawei described HarmonyOS as a free, microkernel-based distributed operating system for various types of hardware. The company focused primarily on IoT devices, including smart TVs, wearable devices, and in-car entertainment systems, and did not explicitly position HarmonyOS as a mobile OS.[42][43]

HarmonyOS 2.0 launched at the Huawei Developer Conference on 10 September 2020. Huawei announced it intended to ship the operating system on its smartphones in 2021.[44] The first developer beta of HarmonyOS 2.0 was launched on 16 December 2020. Huawei also released the DevEco Studio IDE, which is based on IntelliJ IDEA, and a cloud emulator for developers in early access.[45][46]

Huawei officially released HarmonyOS 2.0 and launched new devices shipping with the OS in June 2021, and started rolling out system upgrades to Huawei's older phones for users gradually.[47][48][49]

HarmonyOS apps

In contrast to Android apps being packaged into APK file format, HarmonyOS apps are released as an App Pack suffixed with .app for distribution at Huawei's AppGallery. Each App Pack contains one or more HarmonyOS Ability Package (HAP) files and a pack.info file.[50]

The AppGallery allows users to download and install Android apps that are compatible with HarmonyOS, and apps that are specifically designed for HarmonyOS in an APP pack.[51] For general differentiation, some HarmonyOS apps are marked with an "HMOS" subscript on the app icon,[52] and an underline beneath the app icon to signify the features of service cards available in HarmonyOS. Apps that are developed using specific HarmonyOS features will not be supported on devices running Android.[53][54]

As claimed in August 2019 by Richard Yu Chengdong, CEO of the Consumer Business Group for Huawei, it will only take one or two days for developers to port Android apps to HarmonyOS apps. Compared to the Android ecosystem, the ported apps are reportedly to run faster on HarmonyOS using the Ark Compiler instead of an interpreter.[55]

HarmonyOS 2 Service Center feature in Chinese markets.
HarmonyOS 2 Service Center feature in Chinese markets.

Both HarmonyOS apps and Android apps are allowed to utilize Huawei Mobile Services as an option. However, the distributed communication technology provided in HarmonyOS system is made available specifically for native HarmonyOS apps, not Android apps, based on the design of the operating system, which includes Atomic Services that can be shown in the Service Center on the home screen interface, and widget-like App Snippets that show Service Cards on HAP-based apps to share their current states across multiple devices.[56][57]

Applications for HarmonyOS are mostly built using components of ArkUI, a Declarative User Interface framework. Elements including new interface rules automatically update along with HarmonyOS updates. ArkUI elements are adaptable to different devices.[58]

HarmonyOS as a universal single IoT platform allows developers to write apps once and run everywhere across devices such as phones, tablets, personal computers, TVs, cars, smartwatches, single board computers under OpenHarmony, and many more screen output and screen-less IoT devices such as smart speakers.[59]

As of June 2021, there were reportedly around 500,000 developers participated in developing HarmonyOS apps.[60]

Devices

The Huawei P30 is one of several Huawei devices to run HarmonyOS.
The Huawei P30 is one of several Huawei devices to run HarmonyOS.

Huawei stated that HarmonyOS would initially be used on devices targeting the Chinese market. The company's former subsidiary brand, Honor, unveiled the Honor Vision line of smart TVs as the first consumer electronics devices to run HarmonyOS.[61][43] The HarmonyOS 2.0 beta launched on 16 December 2020 supports the P30 series, P40 series, Mate 30 series, Mate 40 series, P50 series and MatePad Pro.[62] HarmonyOS 2.0 was released as updates for the P40 and Mate X2 in June 2021. New Huawei Watch, MatePad Pro and PixLab X1 desktop printer models shipping with HarmonyOS were also unveiled.[48][49][63] As of October, 2021, HarmonyOS 2.0 has over 150 million users.[64][65]

Relationship with OpenHarmony, Linux and LiteOS

OpenHarmony is an open-source version of HarmonyOS donated by Huawei to the OpenAtom Foundation [zh]. It supports devices running a mini system such as printers, speakers, smartwatches and any other smart device with memory as small as 128 KB, or running a standard system with memory greater than 128 MB.[66] The open-source operating system contains the basic capabilities of HarmonyOS and does not depend on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).[67]

Conversely, HarmonyOS runs on Huawei's proprietary microkernel architecture and has used bits of AOSP ART codes from EMUI and a Linux kernel subsystem in smartphones to enable the operating system to run APK apps with the widgets for compatibility without root support just as with older Huawei EMUI-based smartphones. In addition, the OS supports native HarmonyOS apps on devices with Huawei Mobile Services.[68]

Using a multi-kernel design, HarmonyOS selects appropriate OS kernels for devices with various resource limitations. It uses the LiteOS kernel instead of the Linux kernel on low-powered devices such as smartwatches and IoT devices.[69][70]

Legal issues

In May 2019, Huawei applied for registration of the trademark "Hongmeng" through the Chinese Patent Office CNIPA, but the application was rejected in pursuance to Article 30 of the PRC Trade Mark Law, citing the trademark was similar to that of "CRM Hongmeng" in graphic design and "Hongmeng" in Chinese word.[71]

In less than a week before launching HarmonyOS 2.0 and new devices by Huawei, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court announced the first-instance judgement in May 2021 to uphold the decision by CNIPA as the trademark was not sufficiently distinctive in terms of its designated services.[72][73]

However, it was reported that the trademark had officially been transferred from Huizhou Qibei Technology to Huawei by end of May 2021.[74]

Criticism

Speculations of Huawei's developer tools by Ars Technica, HarmonyOS running on smartphones was rumored as a "rebranded version of Android and EMUI" with nearly "identical code bases".[75] Following the release of the HarmonyOS 2.0 beta, Ars Technica and XDA Developers speculated that "the smartphone version of the OS had been forked from Android 10". Ars Technica alleged that it resembled the existing EMUI software used on Huawei devices, but with all references to "Android" replaced by "HarmonyOS". It was also noted that the DevEco Studio software built based on JetBrains open source IntelliJ IDEA IDE "shared components and tool chains" with Android Studio.[46][76]

When testing the new MatePad Pro in June 2021, Android Authority and The Verge similarly observed similarities in "behavior", including that it was possible to install apps from Android APK files on the HarmonyOS-based tablet, and that it included the Android 10 easter egg app reaffirming earlier rumor mills.[77][49]

Initially, Huawei stated that HarmonyOS was a microkernel-based, distributed OS that was completely different from Android and iOS.[78] A Huawei spokesperson subsequently stated that HarmonyOS supports multiple kernels and uses a Linux kernel if a device has a large amount of RAM, and that the company had taken advantage of a large number of third-party open-source resources, including Linux, to accelerate the development of a comprehensive architecture.[77][49]

Reception

Market share

A market research conducted in China from Strategy Analytics showed that Harmony OS was the third largest smartphone platform after Apple iOS and Google Android as it reached a record high of 4% market share in China during Q1 of 2022, up from zero just a year ago since the launch of the operating system for smartphones in June 2021. HarmonyOS was reported to be the fastest growing smartphone operating system in China, which remains the world's largest smartphone market.[79] The research claimed that the platform outgrew rivals, such as Android and Apple iOS, from a low install base of over 150 million users due to strong software upgrade and local support from Huawei on its older handset models and its former sub-brand such as Honor during Q1 2022.[80][81]

On December 23, 2021, Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group claimed that HarmonyOS had reached 300 million devices, including 200 million devices in the ecosystem and 100 million third-party consumer products from industry partners.[82]

Version History

HarmonyOS Version History

Different HarmonyOS phone and tablet models have different compatible Android version, such as P10 series and Mate9 devices, alongside several older Huawei devices that are compatible with EMUI 9 based on Android Pie. Mate10, Mate20, Mate30, Mate40, P20, P30, P40, MatePad 10.8, MatePad Pro (2019), Honor20 and Honor30 series have compatible EMUI 10 based on Android 10 on the majority of older Huawei devices. They all have HarmonyOS 2.0.0 version.

Huawei P50 (Snapdragon 888 version) series, Nova9 series, MatePad11 and MateXS2 are running Android 11 with the newest Huawei devices with Qualcomm Snapdragon chips. They all have the HarmonyOS 2.0.1 build that is optimised for Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets.[83]

The Harmony OS roadmap announced in August 2019
The Harmony OS roadmap announced in August 2019

Pre-release

HarmonyOS 1 [1.0.0] (OpenHarmony 1.0.0 API Level 5) - August 2019

First release of HarmonyOS on August 9, 2019 for the Huawei Vision S and Honor branded smart TV series was compatible with native HarmonyOS apps built on HarmonyOS Ability Package (HAP) with a new app package .app for the TV ecosystem. It was also compatible with legacy Android apps running .apk files, with in-house development for key modules based on open-source framework.

Version 1.2 obtained a Common Criteria certification[84] for security.

HarmonyOS 2.0 [2.0.0] (OpenHarmony 2.2.0 API Level 6) - December 2020 (Beta)

HarmonyOS 2.0 was launched at the Huawei Developer Conference on 10 September 2020. Huawei announced it intended to ship the operating system on its smartphones in 2021. HarmonyOS 2.0 was released on December 16, 2020 as the first developer beta for the Chinese domestic market on older Huawei smartphone models which include developer features to build HAP apps and SDK tools for developers. Huawei also released the DevEco Studio IDE, which is based on IntelliJ IDEA, and a cloud emulator for developers in early access.[85]

HarmonyOS 2 [2.0.0] (OpenHarmony 2.2.0 API Level 6) - June 2021

Released on June 2, 2021, HarmonyOS 2 is the current release of the operating system which includes in-house development for the kernel and app framework for the general public in the Chinese domestic market.

OpenHarmony information of HarmonyOS via App & Device Info Android app for HMOS phones
OpenHarmony information of HarmonyOS via App & Device Info Android app for HMOS phones

This version includes a new Harmony OS 2.0 home screen based on EMUI design, new control panel design layout with Super Device, Service Center, Service Cards, and App Snippets for the atomic services platform exclusive to native HarmonyOS apps. It has shared multitasking known as Task Center for Huawei devices between phone and tablets as well as running more than one app on tablet and phone screens. The new OS is also optimized for Huawei Super Device, connecting Huawei computers, tablets and smartphones with on-screen gestures and multi-screen collaboration.[86]

Latest HarmonyOS 2 version build: 2.0.0.236 (April 2022 Security Patch Firmware Update) - April 30, 2022

Starting with Huawei P40 and Huawei P50 models, rolling out to older models gradually within a month. [87]

HarmonyOS 3 [3.0.0] (OpenHarmony 3.0 API Level 7) - TBA July 2022

The Harmony OS 3 version is reported to bring more stability and increased performance of the system’s kernel for better user experience and low power consumption. The new upcoming update also aims to bring more power to the Super Device feature, which allows connectivity between smart devices with a single super device such as a smartphone. It includes Huawei services such as Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) for Harmony Ability Packages (HAP) native HarmonyOS apps, Celia Assistant and Service Center in global markets.

Huawei aims to release the new operating system globally to older models gradually and release new smartphone and tablet models with the next version. According to its official developer roadmap, the release of HarmonyOS 3.0.0 Developer Preview is scheduled for July 2022.[88]

See also

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