Huawei introduces HarmonyOS NEXT and completely abandons Android apps

Huawei introduces HarmonyOS NEXT and completely abandons Android apps

Huawei’s annual developer conference, HDC 2024, became the platform for the company’s biggest announcement yet: the official launch of HarmonyOS NEXT, the next iteration of its proprietary operating system.

The announcement comes after years of development of HarmonyOS, which is known as Hongmeng on the mainland. Developed in China, the OS completely abandons the Linux kernel and the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code base in favor of a completely independent architecture built on Huawei’s Hongmeng kernel and system.

Since the OS was created from scratch, Huawei claims that the new system architecture provides a 30% increase in overall machine performance and a 20% reduction in power consumption.

HarmonyOS NEXT is currently in beta testing and is looking for developers and a limited number of early adopters (3,000) to participate. Interested parties should be aware that the beta version may be unstable and may lead to data incompatibility issues.

One system for all devices

A key feature of HarmonyOS NEXT is its ability to bridge the gap between different devices. According to Huawei, developers need to create only one version of an app to provide the same user experience across different screen sizes in the Huawei ecosystem. This was demonstrated at the conference with popular apps such as Taobao, Yiche, and Bilibili running seamlessly across devices.

In addition, HarmonyOS NEXT boasts a unique feature called “Program Continuation”. Imagine starting a video call on your tablet and transferring it to your phone with a single tap. The system also makes it easy to share data between devices. For example, you can easily cut and paste images from your phone to your tablet while working on a document.

Harmony Intelligence: Embedded artificial intelligence

HarmonyOS NEXT goes beyond simply connecting devices. It integrates artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities directly into the system, which is called “Harmony Intelligence”.

The integration opens up a number of features, including

  • AIGC image generation: Create unique images from stroke drawings, colorize existing photos, or even enlarge them.
  • A first in the field of AI for audio restoration: This feature aims to help people with speech impairments by improving communication.
  • “Xiaoyi sees the world” for visually impaired users: This feature uses AI to “read images” by describing their content out loud, potentially helping users identify objects in their environment.
  • Artificial intelligence controls: HarmonyOS NEXT allows third-party applications to use the system’s AI for functions such as real-time text reading, smart form filling, and image/text translation.

Xiaoyi is getting smarter

Huawei’s virtual assistant Xiaoyi has received an update in HarmonyOS NEXT. It is now known as “Xiaoyi Intelligent Agent” and leverages the power of Pangu Big Model 5.0. Xiaoyi no longer needs words to wake up and can be “called” by simply dragging and dropping content onto the navigation bar. This allows for a more intuitive experience where Xiaoyi can analyze content and suggest appropriate actions, such as creating a diagram based on an image or summarizing a document.

Safety first with Star Shield

Security remains a top priority for Huawei. HarmonyOS NEXT introduces a new Star Shield security architecture designed to protect user data. This architecture implements several measures:

  • Strict application verification: Codes and applications that do not meet security standards are blocked from being installed.
  • Encrypt data across multiple devices: Data is encrypted end-to-end across devices for enhanced security.
  • Encryption at the hardware level: Individual files are encrypted using unique keys stored on the device hardware.
  • Permissions management: Unnecessary app permissions are restricted to minimize privacy risks.

There is still a lot of work to be done

HarmonyOS NEXT is still under development, with a commercial launch expected in Q4 2024. The beta testing phase has begun, and Huawei is actively looking for developers and early adopters to provide feedback and help improve the system.


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