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Huawei launches HarmonyOS; Single OS for multiple devices

HarmonyOS HDC 2019

Huawei has just launched an open-source operating system which it has named HarmonyOS, an English name for much-hyped Hongmeng operating system that was making rounds in the technology world ever since Huawei was included in the US entity list facing ban to do business with US-based companies including Google.

During the Huawei Developer Conference (HDC 2019) on August 9, Richard Yu, the CEO of Huawei Consumer Business, briefed to the world that Huawei has introduced its own operating system which is based on a micro-kernel architecture and will support multiple devices including mobile phones, wearables, laptops, TVs, Cars and all other IoT devices the world will see in the future.

The reason behind a single OS Рmultiple devices architecture is its ability to share resources, capabilities, and intelligence among multiple devices at the same time.

Not only the HarmonyOS is capable of bringing true “harmony” to the devices, but it will also be able to run existing Android apps.

There was a concern earlier that Huawei’s new OS might not run the most sought after Android apps including Gmail, Google Map, FB etc. but the news from the developer conference make us believe that HarmonyOS can run every thing seamlessely.

Currently, developers have to design separate applications for different devices and an app on the Google Play Store designed for a smartphone doesn’t necessarily work on the tablet and the laptop. With HarmonyOS, developers can design a single app and it will run on any device with an ability to modify itself on any screen.

As it has been told by Huawei, HarmonyOS is a lightweight, compact operating system with powerful functionality, and it will first be used for smart devices like smartwatches, smart screens, in-vehicle systems, and smart speakers. After a successful implementation, Huawei aims to establish an integrated and shared ecosystem across devices, create a secure and reliable runtime environment, and deliver a holistic intelligent experience across every interaction with every device.

Understanding the HarmonyOS

Huawei says there are four basic elements of this new operating system; seamless, smooth, secure and unified. What does it mean?


By adopting distributed architecture and distributed virtual bus technology, HarmonyOS offers a shared communications platform, distributed data management, distributed task scheduling, and virtual peripherals. With HarmonyOS, app developers won’t have to deal with the underlying technology for distributed apps, allowing them to focus on their own individual service logic. Developing distributed apps will be easier than ever before. Apps built on HarmonyOS can run on different devices while delivering a seamless, collaborative experience across all scenarios.


HarmonyOS will address underperformance challenges with a Deterministic Latency Engine and high-performance Inter-Process Communication (IPC). The Deterministic Latency Engine sets task execution priorities and time limits for scheduling in advance. Resources will gravitate toward tasks with higher priorities, reducing the response latency of apps by 25.7%.

The microkernel can make IPC performance up to five times more efficient than existing systems.


HarmonyOS uses a brand-new microkernel design that features enhanced security and low latency. This microkernel was designed to simplify kernel functions, implement as many system services as possible in user mode outside the kernel, and add mutual security protection. The microkernel itself provides only the most basic services like thread scheduling and IPC.

Harmony OS’s microkernel design uses formal verification methods to reshape security and trustworthiness from the ground up in a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE). Formal verification methods are an effective mathematical approach to validate system correctness from the source, while traditional verification methods, such as functional verification and attack simulation, are confined to limited scenarios. Formal methods, by contrast, can use data models to verify all software running paths.

It is the first OS to use formal verification in device TEE, significantly improving security. In addition, because the HarmonyOS microkernel has much less code (roughly one-thousandth the amount of the Linux kernel), the probability of an attack is greatly reduced.


Powered by a multi-device IDE, multi-language unified compilation, and a distributed architecture kit, HarmonyOS can automatically adapt to different screen layout controls and interactions, and support both drag-and-drop control and preview-oriented visual programming. This allows developers to more efficiently build apps that run on multiple devices. With a multi-device IDE, developers can code their apps once and deploy them across multiple devices, creating a tightly integrated ecosystem across all user devices.

The HUAWEI ARK Compiler is the first static compiler that can perform on par with Android’s virtual machine, enabling developers to compile a broad range of advanced languages into machine code in a single, unified environment. By supporting unified compilation in multiple languages, the HUAWEI ARK Compiler will help developers greatly improve their productivity.

Developer plan and ecosystem development

At today’s conference, Huawei also announced the evolution roadmap for HarmonyOS and its kernel. HarmonyOS 1.0 will be first adopted in its smart screen products, which are due to launch later this year. Over the next three years, HarmonyOS will be optimized and gradually adopted across a broader range of smart devices, including wearables, HUAWEI Vision, and head units for your car.

The success of HarmonyOS will depend on a dynamic ecosystem of apps and developers. To encourage broader adoption, Huawei will release HarmonyOS as an open-source platform, worldwide. Huawei will also establish an open-source foundation and an open-source community to support more in-depth collaboration with developers.

China is home to a strong app ecosystem and a massive user base. Moving forward, Huawei will lay the foundations for HarmonyOS in the Chinese market, and then expand it further to the global ecosystem. With a focus on providing new and unique value, Huawei will open up and share its core capabilities in areas like connectivity, cameras, and AI. It will work closely with ecosystem partners to deliver apps and services that provide consumers with the best possible experience and bring new life to the industry.

Written by Mudassar Jehangir

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