Huawei’s HarmonyOS is still Android with a skin

Huawei is huge smartphone manufacture, but they only got to spend few months among the top smartphones before the US government took them down. Following the commerce department’s actions against the Chinese megafirm, Huawei couldn’t use Google services such as Gmail, YouTube, PlayStore, etc. and Huawei’s solution for this problem was building their own OS, and it’s called HarmonyOS. And now that we’ve seen our first look at Huawei’s own HarmonyOS, one thing is confirmed: it’s just a skin on the Android operating system.

Huawei is still on the commerce department’s “Entity List”. As long as Huawei is on that list Huawei can’t do business with US companies unless it has been granted a license by the government. Even some froing companies that use US technology like ARM holdings have been told not to do business with Huawei, because of this US ban the last Huawei flagship phones shipped without google apps, but they all are running on Android OS.

Now the HarmonyOS beta is available, and this new OS is reportedly arriving at retail phones later this year. Ron Amadeo from ArsTechnica signed up to be a HarmonyOS developer to see what is actually this Chinese tech giant has to offer, and the results are surprising. To be a HarmonyOS developer you have to send a picture of your Passport and your credit card. This process will take few days to complete, and when it’s completed, you don’t even get the downloadable software. Instead, an emulator will stream HarmonyOS from a Chinese virtualization server.

This streaming experience is not smooth as the actual OS that runs on the phone. While testing this laggy remote interface, Ron found that the HarmonyOS is still android. In Huawei’s development documents, they didn’t mention the platform’s android lineage, Ron was failed to find anything functionally different than Huawei’s android phones running its EMUI skin. Most of the system files still include the name “Android” but some of them just renamed to “HarmonyOS”. Changing few words doesn’t make it’s a new operating system.

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