Update: Huawei has reached out to the source (Tech Radar) to debunk this. Stating that HongMeng will be launching in China in late 2019, with an international launch in 2020.
Huawei’s Android replacement is slated to start rolling out to its Android smartphones, as soon as next month. This comes just days after a few different reports said that it would be out by the end of the year, and that it was nowhere near ready for primetime.
This new operating system, which is codenamed HongMeng, and reportedly going to launch as “Ark OS”, is meant to replace Android on Huawei smartphones. This is an operating system that Huawei has been working on for a few years, in the background. As it knew that there was a chance that it could be banned from working with Google, especially given all of the drama between the US and China right now.
Currently, Huawei can still work with Google, but that is only through August 19, when its temporary permit expires. It’s possible that Huawei could get a permanent permit to work with US companies around that time, but it isn’t taking any chances, and is working on replacing these partners. Of course, Google isn’t their biggest issue right now. As they also can no longer make chips, since ARM has stopped working with them. And they can no longer use micro SD cards thanks to the SD Association also dropping them.
Huawei’s managing director and vice president of its Enterprise Business Group in the Middle East, Alaa Elshimy stated that, “Huawei knew this was coming and was preparing. The OS was ready in January 2018 and this was our ‘Plan B.'” Elshimy went on to explain that Huawei did not force it on users last year, since it had a “strong relationship with Google and others and did not want to ruin the relationship. Now, we are rolling it out next month.”
So far, there’s not a lot known about this new operating system from Huawei. There have been a few leaks and rumors surfacing over the past week or so. Which included the bit about this OS being compatible with Android apps. Allowing users to still use their favorite Android apps on this new operating system. BlackBerry actually did this with its BlackBerry OS, before it decided to go full Android, and well, it didn’t work well for BlackBerry. Of course, Huawei has a lot more customers than BlackBerry did at that time, so things may be a bit different.
This new operating system doesn’t really mean much for Huawei in China, users likely won’t notice much of a difference. Seeing as their phones in China have no Google services included, since Google has been banned from the country for about a decade now. But things will be vastly different for those in Europe and even the US.
President Trump did say that Huawei could be included in some trade deal with China – showing that Huawei is just a pawn in this trade war. But Huawei isn’t counting on that, and looking to move forward, which is a smart move for Huawei. When this new OS starts rolling out next month, there will definitely be some growing pains for Huawei, but it should put them on solid footing.