HUAWEI has trademarked the name of a brand new mobile OS designed to compete with Google’s Android.
The so-called ‘Hongmeng OS’ would be a way of getting around US sanctions that prevent American firms from trading with Huawei.
2 Huawei is creating its own ‘operating system’ to power phones without help from GoogleCredit: Alamy
It means Brits who own Android-Powered Huawei phones – or buy Huawei phones in the future – could find themselves using a brand new phone system.
It’s likely, but not confirmed, that the Hongmeng OS would be similar to Android, to make the transition easier for users.
Huawei registered a patented trademark for Hongmeng OS in China, which is valid until May 2029.
And Huawei has also registered trademarks in Europe for Huawei Ark OS, Huawei Ark, Ark and Ark OS.
2 Huawei may still base its new software on Google’s designsCredit: Getty – Contributor
The name may be a reference to “Noah’s Ark”, the biblical ship used to survive a world-destroying flood and start anew.
And the likely launch of this OS is a clear response to the USA placing Huawei on a trade blacklist, preventing Google from working with Huawei.
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“We still don’t have a clear understanding of what Google has told Huawei and what elements of the Android operating system may be restricted, so it remains unclear what the ramifications will be.
“However, any disruption in getting updates to the software or the associated applications would have considerable implications for Huawei’s consumer device business.
“People who currently own Huawei smartphones do not need to worry. At present any measures would only affect future devices and future updates.
“Google has publicly stated that its App Store, Google Play, and security updates from Google Play Protect will continue working on existing Huawei devices.
“However, until we have a clear understanding of what exact measures Google has decided to take it is impossible to second guess the impact on future devices.
“Huawei has been working hard on developing its own App Gallery and other software assets in a similar manner to the work it has done on developing its own chipsets for phones. There is little doubt these efforts are part of its desire to control its own destiny.
“Last year, CCS Insight predicted that tensions between the China and the US would present a strong incentive for Chinese companies to create their own operating system for smart devices. Given recent developments that seems more likely than ever.”
Android is an operating system that powers everything on your phone – like Windows on your PC, or macOS on your Apple Mac.
Google builds Android, but it’s an “open-source” software, which means anyone can access it and create gadgets with it – even you.
However, Google offers up early access to newer versions of Android to manufacturers.
This means the new version of Android – which is called Android Q – potentially wouldn’t be available to Huawei immediately.
Huawei could still get Android Q on its phones eventually, once the update enters the public Android Open-Source Project.
But if Huawei creates its own operating system, it wouldn’t need to rely on early Android updates from Google.
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Huawei is believed to have been developing Hongmeng OS since way back in 2012.
But the company hasn’t officially announced an operating system, or detailed how it will work.
That’s why it’s impossible to say whether Hongmeng is based on AOSP, the open-source version of Android that anyone can access.
Latest rumours suggest that Huawei is aiming for an August or September 2019 launch globally.
That fits in nicely with the recent trademark filings, which would suggest that a launch is imminent.
In an interview with German newspaper Die Welt a couple of months back, Yu said: “We have prepared our own operating system.
“Should it [the ban] ever happen that we can no longer use these systems, we would be prepared.
“That’s our plan B. But of course we prefer to work with the ecosystems of Google and Microsoft.”
We’ve asked Huawei for comment and will update this story with any response.
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Huawei is the world’s second-biggest smartphone vendor, just behind Samsung
So China has a vested interest in the company being successful
Trump will have targeted Huawei specifically to hurt China in the ongoing US-China trade war
As such, Huawei is effectively a trade war hostage
The good news is that this means Huawei may be de-blacklisted once (or if) the trade war is resolved
It’s relatively easy for Google to restore access to services for a firm like Huawei
It’s also possible that future US administrations might decide to de-blacklist Huawei to improve relations with China
However, growing spying fears over Huawei’s alleged close links with the Chinese government may hamper or halt this process
There’s also no indication that the US-China trade war is coming to a close any time soon
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This week, Huawei cancelled the planned launch of a new Windows laptop, blaming US sanctions.
The new Huawei P30 Pro was recently caught up in a “spying” controversy thanks to its unique 50x super-zoom feature.
The Chinese tech giant recently vowed to enter the TV market too, with the world’s first “5G 8K television”.
Huawei has also rocked the mobile world with its pricey £2,000 Mate X foldable smartphone.
Would you be happy to buy a Huawei phone now? Let us know in the comments!
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