Twelve years have passed since the first modern smartphone – the iPhone – was released, and it had a massive effect on the way we look at pocket-sized communication devices. Although from a hardware point of view, it was not very different from the PDAs used before it. Actually, one of the most popular PDA phones of the time, the Eten Glofiish had comparable hardware (a 400 MHz Samsung CPU compared to the iPhone’s 411MHz ARM chip, enough memory to run Windows Mobile, and it even had GPS and FM radio, that the first-generation iPhone missed).

The main difference came in the destination of the two devices: their destination. Where the Glofiish was meant for business use – it came with an organizer and a mobile Office suite – the iPhone was aimed at those seeking to have fun. This new paradigm – and giving up the stylus – has given birth to a brand new type of device that serves more like a portable entertainment hub and less like a portable office – the smartphone we know today.

The battle of operating systems

Over the last decade, there’s been a veritable battle on the smartphone operating systems’ front. On one hand, we had Apple that offers its own homegrown OS on its own homegrown handsets, on the other, Google’s Android that can be licensed by pretty much any smartphone manufacturer.

And between these two giants, there were several smaller players fighting to carve out their place in the market: Microsoft with its Windows Phone, Blackberry with Blackberry OS, Samsung with its Tizen, and independent developers with their own take on the mobile OS: Mozilla’s Firefox OS, Ubuntu Touch, and some others.

In time, everything except Android and iOS has fallen. Today, the smartphone market is a de facto monopoly: Apple only allows iOS to be used on its own devices, so for the rest of the manufacturers, it’s Android or nothing. This also means that all developers, from social networks to online slot software providers are now working exclusively to release their apps on one of these two platforms.

HarmonyOS - An Android Alternative

Enter HarmonyOS

Huawei is one of the top 3 smartphone hardware manufacturers in the world, along with Samsung – the biggest – and Apple. Earlier this year, the United States government decided to ban all local companies from doing business with the Chinese telecom giant, citing national security concerns. This, unfortunately, meant that Huawei was on the brink of losing access to the Android ecosystem – but the company had a contingency plan.

It has spent the last few years developing its own operating system in the background, planning to use it on its connected devices – smart TVs, car audio devices, and such – in the future. The decision of the US to cut ties with the company – and Google to revoke its Android license – made it urgent for Huawei to come up with a viable alternative. This alternative was rumored to be HarmonyOS/HongmengOS until it was presented to the public earlier this year.

Can Android and Huawei live in Harmony(OS)?

Huawei has planned to use Android on its smartphones for as long as it could but with the recent turn of events, it has reportedly accelerated the development of its new OS. Upon unveiling the new operating system this month, Huawei presented it as a platform for the Internet of Things, an embedded “industrial” operating system that was not built with smartphones in mind, thus refuting all the previous speculation.

This doesn’t mean that Huawei, considering the events of the previous months, won’t try to deploy its own operating system for smartphones, though. But the speculations surrounding Huawei’s upcoming smartphone OS have brought forth questions about what an Android alternative needs to stand a chance against the Google-backed giant.

And the answer is most likely apps. Microsoft’s Windows Phone had a chance to break into the market dominated by the Apple-Google duopoly – it had a dedicated fan base, after all – but it lost by the numbers – the number of available apps, that is.

When the Play Store and the App Store had around 1 million apps each, the Windows Store had around five times fewer – and the launch of Windows 10 with its Universal Apps also failed at convincing developers to deploy their apps on the platform. To stand a chance in the smartphone world, an Android alternative has to either deliver the same app variety Android has – which is unlikely, given the popularity of Android today – or give its users the possibility to download, install, and run apps built for Android on their phones.

This is currently possible through emulation, which harms the performance of apps (especially games) seriously – and this is not the best way to appeal to smartphone users who always seek to have a smoother, faster experience on the go. For Huawei’s sake, let’s hope the differences between China and the US will be resolved, otherwise it could find itself losing most, if not all, of its smartphone clients outside of China.

Considering the position the company was able to carve out for itself in the market in the last few years – and the amount of money and time is invested in building its own SoC, Kirin – it would be a shame. GuptaFeaturedAndroid,Android alternative,HarmonyOS,OSTwelve years have passed since the first modern smartphone - the iPhone - was released, and it had a massive effect on the way we look at pocket-sized communication devices. Although from a hardware point of view, it was not very different from the PDAs used before it. Actually,...