Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central

Huawei made some of the best android phones you could buy. You’ve probably never used one if you live in the US, but Huawei phones have been popular enough in many other parts of the world to keep the company in a direct race with Samsung as that world’s largest smartphone manufacturer.

Huawei makes great phones, but they all need great software so that everyone can take care of them.

Ars Technica has a wonderfully complete Breakdown of Huawei HarmonyOS 2 Beta program written that you absolutely must take a look. It covers the problems of the world’s largest phone maker when it comes to software after the Chinese giant was put on the internet US entity list and can’t do business with Google anymore, and that in itself is an incredibly complex subject. Or it should have been.

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It turns out that after all the smoke and the mirrors, HarmonyOSas it stands now is fair Android 10 scrubbed away with as much “Google” and “Android” as possible. This makes perfect sense and is exactly the right move for Huawei, given that the majority of Android’s operating system is free and open – and no one, not even US officials, can choose who may use it or how. But the execution is a mess of epic proportions.

Of course, if this were the whole story it would be pretty boring and little more than a slip up in your news reader. According to Wang Chenglu, president of Huawei’s Consumer BG software division, HarmonyOS is built entirely in-house and is expected to be installed on over 300 million devices by the end of the year definitely not a copy of Android. Oops.

HarmonyOS

Source: Ron Amadeo / Ars Technica

I want to be fair here. Huawei does have developed a second operating system to replace the western software called on IoT devices OpenHarmony. It uses Huawei liteOS microkernel and none of the software in their world runs on or in Android. But This is not a HarmonyOS 2 beta that Huawei is wooing developers. HarmonyOS Version 2 Beta is – and nobody’s kidding – the open source parts of Android 10 that were compiled with some Huawei graphics.

Huawei other The operating system appears to be an internal product, but it is not suitable for phones.

We have to stop here and say thank you Ars TechnicaRon Amadeo who took one for the team. To try the beta, Ron had to send a photo of his passport and go through a background check which the CCP almost certainly dumped somewhere in case … something happens. But yes, Huawei is forcing potential and interested developers to submit this documentation and wait for a two-day background check. I can’t think of a scenario in which this isn’t entirely ridiculous.

There is also nothing that you can download and run on local hardware. HarmonyOS 2 Beta is used via the cloud from a phone connected to a PC somewhere in mainland China. additionally Developer documentation They are literally pages of PR language and outdated, overarching descriptions of what HarmonyOS was being sold for – a China-built competitor for Android and iOS – and not what it really is.

You can see all the dirty details in Ars Technica‘s original article, so I won’t go through all of them. And there’s a lot to hack through! It all leaves me with one big question: why? Why did Huawei do this when it didn’t have to?

EMUI 10

Source: Android Central

Every single person reading this has the resources and permission to use Android unchanged and create their own operating system. It’s by no means easy, but Huawei is absolutely capable of doing what Amazon has done for Kindle devices, or what countless Android TV box makers have done with much smaller budgets and research and development teams. In fact, it’s exactly why Android is there when it’s pulled from the cloud, rebuilt, and renamed.

You have permission to create a smartphone that will run Google. We all do that.

All Huawei had to do was make sure no proprietary Google apps were being used and create their own services and APIs (synced) Huawei Mobile Services and already a real thing) for them to attract developers. Instead it is appears Just as Huawei simply scrubbed an existing build of Android 10 to clean it up, both the U.S. government and the Chinese government would be happy if they didn’t dig deeper.

I’m going to get on my nerves here and say that I think exactly what Huawei has planned for the Chinese smartphone market. A “clean” version of Android wouldn’t depend on anything on Google or any other western nation (which China wants), and Huawei’s services take Google out of the picture of what the US wants. I think what we’re seeing here is the lazy first step.

I suspect the beta day means a lot here and a finished product is built differently. I hope so.

So the “beta” day. This is not software that you can currently use on every phone. although that is supposed to come. Any application built for the current beta should work unchanged for a future beta that is further away from Google. This is exactly what we saw from Amazon, and this is exactly how open source software works. In fact, Android itself would not be able to run without previously written open source software that Google used directly and put into Android.

Right now what Huawei is showing the world is a complete mess to be ashamed of – especially since it claimed there was no copying of Android and that this is software 100% grown in China. Future builds that are actually integrated into a usable software repository and specifically designed to run as a standalone HarmonyOS make perfect sense, however.

In no case should you send a copy of your passport to find out.

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