HongMeng OS is Huawei’s Alternative to Android (Rumor)

If you’ve been following the news, you must know Huawei was hit by trade restrictions from the US government, and US companies announced they’d comply meaning Intel, Google, Qualcomm, Microsoft, Xilinx, and others announced they’d have to mostly stop doing business with Huawei. At first, it seemed like all Google services would stop working on existing Huawei phones, but it’s not that bad, and apparently, it only impacts phones sold after May 16. Everything is still in flow, so it may take a while for things to settle down, and find out what the practical implications will be.

Nevertheless, upon reading the news, I thought it would be a boon for projects like /e/ operating system that works without closed-source binaries from Google, but it turns out that Huawei is working on its own operating system called HongMeng () OS according to Chinese media reports.

HongMeng OS
Probably NOT HongMeng OS – Source: WccfTech

We don’t have a whole lot of details, but HongMeng OS is supposed to be in the trial phase and may replace Android in future Huawei handsets. Some Chinese sources report the OS has been developed for a while (Google translation):

“A professor led the Huawei operating system team to develop a proprietary operating system – Hongmeng. The operating system has been optimized for Linux (open source), and has been used in Huawei mobile phones (safety part). In addition, the project also won the first prize of the Ministry of Education Technology Invention (2018), the second prize of the National Technology Progress (2012), and strive for csranking as soon as possible before entering V. Prepare to declare the 2020 National Technology Progress Award.”

The final name change since HongMeng OS may just be a  codename. There are also challenges to bringing a new OS to market, and the most difficult task may be to motivate developers to bring their app to the platform. Just ask Samsung (Tizen) and Microsoft (Windows Mobile).

Via NotebookCheck

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37 Replies to “HongMeng OS is Huawei’s Alternative to Android (Rumor)”

  1. If you build it, they won’t necessarily come.

    I’m one of the few people left on the planet still using Windows Mobile. A perfectly usable and effective phone OS, faster and more resource efficient than Android. But the apps are just not there.

    1. The original palmos was much more efficient than Microsoft’s offerings.

      1. Man, I still use mine Palm Centro as main phone. I’m still one of few people left using Palm OS.

    2. “If you build it, they won’t necessarily come.”

      Don’t forget that China does play/work with “normal” western market dynamics. The Chinese government doesn’t have to ban Android/iOS, they can just make their use count against your “social score”. Similarly, application developers wouldn’t be banned from making Android/iOS versions of their apps, they’d just find that the government approval required for many apps (notably games) would take longer … say 10-20 years.

      Given that the OS has won awards from National/Government agencies I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Chinese government has been keeping it in it’s back pocket for a situation similar to the one unfolding now.

      1. The original social score, was in us, mainly for people that can’t pay their house, or say to shops that want to hire somebody, if he theft something in a shop. In China instead (this is not what western newspaper say), this block companies that don’t follow quality standard, and only block people with debt to buy luxury things.

  2. And the failed Firefox OS. I have the ZTE model, now running Android 4. Version .

    To much infighting going on, as there are several OS out there.

    1. UBports is a full linux, adapted to mobile, and so has more long term viability, as linux for servers/HPC/box, or the Linux kernel in all thoses phone systems.

  3. I still think simplicity of old Nokia’s Symbian series were better.I got a phone with kai os. The problem is app support that we are used to on Apple & Android.It takes time to move apps to a new OS and choice to choose according to our taste is strictly limited for something new.

  4. If only Huawei/honor allowed their bootloaders to be unlocked, people might still buy them and install lineage.

    1. People still buy them, in China first, where they don’t care about Google, and in Europe too… due to superior quality of their phones and that they don’t care about Trump.

  5. Bring HongMeng in quickly. The world is waiting for it.
    Give it a better name i.e. Communice (short form for Nice Community).

  6. Huawei does not need a new OS. The US government can’t cut them off from AOSP, they can only block Google’s services. AOSP has been released under a license that gives free access to everyone. Do note that Amazon Fire is based on AOSP and they have been getting along just fine without Google for a decade. Given the Amazon example, it is certainly possible to cut ties with Google and still use Android.

    Inside China most phones don’t rely on Google anyway since it is blocked. So this has little impact on Huawei’s sales inside China. The challenge to Huawei is retaining their international customers who are used to relying on Google’s services.

    1. But other markets wont take this well, take India…a big market for Huawei products. No one will buy a OS/Phone that does not have PlayStore/Google Services support.

    2. Yes. They can easily replace the play store with their own app store. Actually they could even host apps like gmail there (maybe not legal)
      I know in the past I also saw apk’s floating around for chinese devices that came without play store.
      Thinking of it, it is probably not too difficult to trick the play store into thinking that you are e.g. a Samsung phone.

      1. As said Jon Smirl, they already do that for year in China, and that’s a problem for nobody… I personally prefer to avoid those market, I use Fdroid and download sometimes APK from some git repositories, on a Samsung, and everything is just fine. My next phone will probably be a Huawei, there was too much problems in default chinese/japanese input methods after OS updates on Samsung :(.

  7. please ,china was stronger only in the bad situation 50years ago.now its time to stronger again.

      1. Congrats to SiFive for getting into bed early with ImgTec. Now If you’ll excuse, time to short ARM…

      2. Just one year later, of this post Alibaba make powerful enough RISC-V processors to run devices, European Union, do a mix of ARM processor and RISC-V accelerator (to avoid nvidia) in their first domestic Soc, next step, a full RISC-C SoC ? Probably if nvidia buy ARM

    1. This could escalate pretty quickly… I guess China and the US will start to talk with a bit more emergency to try to work around their differences.

      1. And with whom should China speak? «Le crétin orange» as he’s called in certain EU countries?

        1. Well, they have no choice, and he may even stay there until 2024. So I don’t think they can wait 5 and a half years.

        1. By escalating, I meant things like China banning exports of rare earth supplies, and the US starting to move “military assets” around.

    2. That’s the peril of being multinational.
      Last year, China blocked the purchase of a Dutch company by an American company (Qualcomm trying to buy NXP).

  8. If a Sailfish or Librem phone alike OS that would be Lignux (GNU/Linux) compatible, plus Android compatible, that can be run from IoT to supercomputers will arrive from this, not only Android, and ChormeOS but also MS WOS, MacOS, IOS and Red Hat will suffer a lot, also AWS Azure and Google cloud services and all the e-mail pictures cloud office and desktop office.

    But if as I read ARM cuts them too, RISC V MIPS and some Vulkan compatible open source – or not – GPU will raise – and remember that RISC is better than CISC and is relatively easy to achieve IBM’s power 9 CPUs from RISC V MIPS or some evolved instructions from them.

    Wars are not usually won by the first that shoots.

  9. The Kirin CPU is amongst the top four performers, Kirin OS already ships though whether this is HongMeng OS can be questioned, but when the chip is taken into account with Huaweis strategy of enhancing new ranges of small cheap phones, its Asian, African and Latin American markets dwarf the western markets.

    The CPU has eight cores, and two different types of Neural processors, it comes in a high performance and cheap low performance models. HongMeng OS is optimised for parallel processing which can be done on any modern multi-core CPU, it is unclear if it is just the OS that will be optimised for this, but the performance will leap on just that. However it must be considered that the Neural processors may be able to map and optimise existing serial apps run in a parallel manner; just a possibility, but then when they talk about cheap phones getting much better performance it is worth considering a serious statement.

    If Kirin OS is based on HongMeng OS it runs Andriod apps, but Huawei has made other statements that should get people thinking a bit about how far Chinese companies plan ahead. HongMeng OS is scalable, from small devices, through cheap to high end phones, tablets, Desktops and presumably further.

    The Desktop has been MS Windows, Huawei infers this can be replaced without replacing the apps base. In other words is this the first software agnostic OS, the Kirin chop is ARM, so we are not talking about the CPU being code agnostic, or OS emulation.

    Linux already supports Wine and Anbox that create environments for some windows, programs and Android apps, where they run nakedly as part of the Linux OS. Has Huawei taken that a step further and optimised it for parallel processing? If it has it becomes the killer OS and platform.

    Next the political has to be considered this is an attack on China, and in response a consortium of interests and technology will form. ZTE was attacked last year by the US, battery manufactures and designers, all the software and device makers, the military technology sector as well, will combine together America is chronically incapable of doing this. HongeMeng OS may end up being on a lot of things and the Kirin chip as well, and improved versions of both not far off.

    Also have a careful look at Huawei’s camera approach on their phones, I don’t take much interest in snaps so I had not looked carefully at what they have done. At first it is not really different to the rest, then it starts to dawn that the 3-4 camera ordination is not just a gimmick, this is becoming a compound eye that when filtered through a Neural processor is capable of great accuracy at a very high rate of speed. Think cheap devices, on low end CPUs and small memory, but active parallel processing and neural processing the effectively see. same as everyone else but much less demanding of power and resources to run more effectively.

    The Sleeping Giant awakes.

  10. Developers will rush to get their apps into Hongmeng if you position Hongmeng as a platform to reach China’s 1.3 billion people. And if you offer an early bird incentive of reaching more people, they will trip over one another to get in.

  11. The stupidity of people never ceases to amaze me. All Huawei phones will continue to operate normally.
    1) you won’t be able to update android to latest version … less than 1% of phone owners ever update the OS (apart from mostly unnecessary “security” updates to protect against obscure exploits that will never be directed at you)
    2) no playstore…. I’ve never used playstore, its not required. APKpure and F-droid do the exact same job and handle all app updates. (amusingly both are available in playstore)
    3) no youtube app…. again not required. All mobile browsers can access youtube and gmail. You don’t need a bloody app!
    4) no google maps…. there are better versions out there already. I’ve used HereWeGo for years, does everything googlemaps does.

    and so on and so on.

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