Huawei Unveils HarmonyOS NEXT, Leaving Android Apps Behind

Huawei’s annual developer conference, HDC 2024, showcased a groundbreaking announcement: the official launch of Huawei HarmonyOS NEXT, the latest version of its homegrown operating system. This marks a significant milestone in Huawei’s journey to develop an independent OS, officially named Hongmeng in China.

Huawei Unveils HarmonyOS NEXT, Leaving Android Apps Behind

A New Architecture

HarmonyOS NEXT represents a complete overhaul from its predecessor. Unlike previous versions that relied on the Linux kernel and Android Open Source Project (AOSP) codebase, this iteration is built entirely from the ground up using Huawei’s own Hongmeng kernel and system. This independent architecture promises a 30% improvement in overall machine performance and a 20% reduction in power consumption, according to Huawei.

Beta Testing Phase

Currently, HarmonyOS NEXT is in the beta testing phase. Huawei is inviting developers and a limited number of pioneer users (3,000) to participate in this testing phase. However, participants should be aware that the beta version might not be stable and could lead to data incompatibility issues.

One System for All Devices

A standout feature of HarmonyOS NEXT is its ability to bridge the gap between different devices. Huawei emphasizes that developers only need to create one version of an app to ensure a consistent user experience across various screen sizes within the Huawei ecosystem. This was demonstrated at the conference with popular apps like Taobao, Yiche, and Bilibili running seamlessly on different devices.

Moreover, HarmonyOS NEXT introduces a unique “App Continuation” function. Imagine starting a video call on your tablet and seamlessly transferring it to your phone with a single click. The system also allows for effortless data sharing between devices. It can cut and paste an image from your phone to your tablet while working on a document.

Harmony Intelligence: AI Built-in

HarmonyOS NEXT goes beyond just device connectivity by integrating artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities directly into the system, referred to as “Harmony Intelligence.” This integration unlocks a range of features, including:

  • AIGC Image Generation: Users can create unique images from line drawings, colour existing photos, or even enlarge them.
  • Industry-first AI Sound Repair: This feature aims to assist people with speech disorders by enhancing communication.
  • “Xiaoyi Sees the World” for Visually Impaired Users: This feature uses AI to “read pictures” by describing their content aloud, helping users identify objects in their surroundings.
  • AI-powered Controls: HarmonyOS NEXT allows third-party apps to leverage the system’s AI for features like real-time text reading, smart form filling, and image/text translation.

Xiaoyi Gets Smarter

Huawei’s virtual assistant, Xiaoyi, has received a significant upgrade with HarmonyOS NEXT. Now known as “Xiaoyi Intelligent Agent,” it leverages the power of Pangu Big Model 5.0. Xiaoyi no longer requires a wake word and can be “summoned” by simply dragging and dropping content onto the navigation bar. This allows for more intuitive interaction, where Xiaoyi can analyze the content and offer relevant actions, like generating a chart from an image or summarizing a document.

Security First with Star Shield

Security is a top priority for Huawei, and HarmonyOS NEXT introduces the new Star Shield security architecture to keep user data safe. This architecture includes several measures:

  • Strict App Vetting: The system blocks codes and apps that don’t meet security standards from being installed.
  • Multi-device Data Encryption: The system encrypts data end-to-end across various devices for enhanced protection.
  • Hardware-level Encryption: The device’s hardware stores unique keys that encrypt individual files.
  • Permission Control: The system restricts unnecessary app permissions to minimize privacy risks.

The Road Ahead

HarmonyOS NEXT is still under development, with the commercial launch expected in Q4 2024. The beta testing phase has already begun. Huawei is also actively seeking developers and early adopters to provide feedback and help refine the system. This ambitious project aims to create a seamless, intelligent, and secure ecosystem for all Huawei devices. It will mark a significant step forward in the tech giant’s independent operating system journey.

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Onsa Mustafa

Onsa is a Software Engineer and a tech blogger who focuses on providing the latest information regarding the innovations happening in the IT world. She likes reading, photography, travelling and exploring nature.

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