Technology

HarmonyOS Next: Boosting Innovation, Risking Compatibility?

HarmonyOS Next is a cross-device operating system developed by Huawei, one of the leading smartphone manufacturers in the world. It was launched in 2023 as the latest version of HarmonyOS, which was first introduced in 2019. HarmonyOS Next is designed to offer a seamless and consistent user experience across different devices, such as smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, wearables, and IoT devices. It also supports open-source development and diverse ecosystems, enabling developers and users to create and enjoy innovative applications and services. HarmonyOS Next is a bold and innovative move by Huawei to challenge the dominance of Android and iOS, the two most popular operating systems in the global smartphone market. However, it also risks compatibility issues with existing apps and services, especially those that rely on Google Mobile Services, which are banned in Huawei devices due to the US sanctions and the trade war. In this essay, we will explore how HarmonyOS Next boosts innovation, how it risks compatibility, and how it affects the global smartphone market.

How HarmonyOS Next boosts innovation

One of the main advantages of HarmonyOS Next is that it is based on a microkernel architecture that allows it to run on different devices, such as smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, wearables, and IoT devices. This means that HarmonyOS Next can adapt to various hardware configurations and scenarios, and provide a consistent and smooth user experience across devices. For example, users can easily switch between devices without losing their progress or data, or use multiple devices simultaneously to perform complex tasks.

Another benefit of HarmonyOS Next is that it enables seamless connectivity and collaboration among devices, thanks to its distributed technology. HarmonyOS Next can automatically discover, connect, and coordinate nearby devices, and form a Super Device that can share resources and capabilities. This allows users to enjoy more features and functions, such as multi-screen interaction, distributed file management, and cross-device task continuity. For instance, users can project their laptop screen to a monitor, use their smartphone as a mouse, and transfer files between devices with a simple drag and drop.

Moreover, HarmonyOS Next supports open-source development and diverse ecosystems, which can foster creativity and innovation among developers and users. HarmonyOS Next has established the HarmonyOS Open Source Foundation, which invites developers from around the world to contribute to the development and improvement of the OS. HarmonyOS Next also provides a rich and comprehensive set of developer tools and services, such as the HarmonyOS Application Market, the HarmonyOS Developer Service Platform, and the HarmonyOS Studio. These platforms and tools can help developers create and distribute applications and services for HarmonyOS Next, and access various resources and support.

Furthermore, HarmonyOS Next offers a unified UI framework, a distributed data management service, and a distributed security framework, which can help developers create innovative applications and services for HarmonyOS Next. The unified UI framework allows developers to design and develop UI components that can adapt to different screen sizes and orientations, and provide a consistent and intuitive user interface. The distributed data management service enables developers to store and access data across devices, and synchronize data in real time. The distributed security framework ensures that the data and communication between devices are secure and encrypted.

In summary, HarmonyOS Next boosts innovation by providing a cross-device operating system, a seamless connectivity and collaboration feature, an open-source development and diverse ecosystem support, and a set of developer tools and services that can help create and enjoy innovative applications and services.

How HarmonyOS Next risks compatibility

One of the main disadvantages of HarmonyOS Next is that it is incompatible with Android and iOS, the two dominant operating systems in the global smartphone market. According to StatCounter, as of December 2023, Android and iOS accounted for 72.3% and 26.4% of the global mobile operating system market share, respectively. This means that most of the existing apps and services are designed and developed for Android and iOS platforms, and may not run smoothly or at all on HarmonyOS Next devices.

Another drawback of HarmonyOS Next is that it faces challenges in running existing apps and services, especially those that rely on Google Mobile Services (GMS), which are banned in Huawei devices due to the US sanctions and the trade war. GMS is a collection of Google applications and APIs that help support functionality across devices, such as Google Play Store, Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, and Google Assistant. Many popular apps and services, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Netflix, and Spotify, depend on GMS to function properly. However, HarmonyOS Next devices cannot access GMS, which limits the availability and functionality of these apps and services.

Moreover, HarmonyOS Next attempts to overcome these challenges by using Huawei Mobile Services (HMS), AppGallery, Petal Search, and Quick Apps. HMS is Huawei’s own set of applications and APIs that provide similar features and functions as GMS, such as Huawei AppGallery, Huawei Browser, Huawei Cloud, Huawei Assistant, and Huawei Mobile Cloud. AppGallery is Huawei’s official app distribution platform, which offers a variety of apps and games for HarmonyOS Next devices. Petal Search is Huawei’s search engine, which allows users to find and download apps and content from various sources. Quick Apps are web-based apps that can run on HarmonyOS Next devices without installation.

However, HarmonyOS Next impacts the user experience and satisfaction by offering alternative apps and services, which may not match the quality and quantity of the original ones. For example, AppGallery has only about 530,000 apps as of November 2023, compared to Google Play Store’s 3.5 million and Apple App Store’s 2.2 million. Petal Search may not be able to find all the apps and content that users want, especially those that are region-specific or geo-restricted. Quick Apps may not offer the same performance and functionality as native apps, and may require constant internet connection.

In summary, HarmonyOS Next risks compatibility by being incompatible with Android and iOS, facing challenges in running existing apps and services, attempting to overcome these challenges by offering alternative apps and services, and impacting the user experience and satisfaction by providing limited and inferior options.

How HarmonyOS Next affects the global smartphone market

One of the main reasons for HarmonyOS Next’s development is that it is a strategic response by Huawei to the US sanctions and the trade war that have restricted its access to Android and other technologies. Huawei has been facing increasing pressure from the US government, which has accused it of posing a national security threat and violating trade sanctions. As a result, Huawei has been banned from using Google Mobile Services, Qualcomm chips, and other essential components and software for its devices. HarmonyOS Next is Huawei’s attempt to reduce its dependence on foreign suppliers and create its own operating system that can compete with Android and iOS.

Another consequence of HarmonyOS Next’s development is that it has expanded Huawei’s market share and influence, especially in China and other emerging markets. According to Counterpoint Research, Huawei was the second-largest smartphone vendor in the world in 2023, with a 19% market share, behind Samsung’s 20% and ahead of Apple’s 15%. However, Huawei’s performance was mainly driven by its strong performance in China, where it captured a 44% market share, while its overseas sales declined by 24%. HarmonyOS Next has helped Huawei attract more developers and partners, launch more devices and products, and increase customer loyalty and retention in its home market and other regions where it has a strong presence, such as Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Moreover, HarmonyOS Next has challenged the existing market structure and competition, especially between Android and iOS, which have dominated the global smartphone market for over a decade. HarmonyOS Next is the first operating system to offer a cross-device integration, open-source collaboration, and diversified ecosystem that can rival Android and iOS. HarmonyOS Next also provides a differentiated user value proposition, such as seamless connectivity, enhanced performance, and improved security. HarmonyOS Next also leverages Huawei’s brand reputation and innovation capabilities, which have earned it recognition and trust from consumers and industry experts.

Furthermore, HarmonyOS Next shapes the future trends and opportunities in the global smartphone market, such as by promoting cross-device integration, open-source collaboration, and diversified ecosystems. HarmonyOS Next is not only an operating system for smartphones but also for tablets, smart TVs, wearables, and IoT devices, which can form a Super Device that can share resources and capabilities. HarmonyOS Next also encourages developers and users to participate in the development and improvement of the OS, and to create and enjoy innovative applications and services. HarmonyOS Next also supports various platforms and tools, such as HarmonyOS Application Market, HarmonyOS Developer Service Platform, and HarmonyOS Studio, which can help developers create and distribute applications and services for HarmonyOS Next and access various resources and support.

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Conclusion

HarmonyOS Next is a cross-device operating system developed by Huawei, which aims to offer a seamless and consistent user experience across different devices, such as smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, wearables, and IoT devices. It also supports open-source development and diverse ecosystems, enabling developers and users to create and enjoy innovative applications and services. HarmonyOS Next is a bold and innovative move by Huawei to challenge the dominance of Android and iOS, the two most popular operating systems in the global smartphone market. However, it also risks compatibility issues with existing apps and services, especially those that rely on Google Mobile Services, which are banned in Huawei devices due to the US sanctions and the trade war.

In this essay, we have explored how HarmonyOS Next boosts innovation, how it risks compatibility, and how it affects the global smartphone market. We have seen that HarmonyOS Next provides a cross-device operating system, a seamless connectivity and collaboration feature, an open-source development and diverse ecosystem support, and a set of developer tools and services that can help create and enjoy innovative applications and services. We have also seen that HarmonyOS Next faces challenges in running existing apps and services, attempts to overcome these challenges by offering alternative apps and services, and impacts the user experience and satisfaction by providing limited and inferior options. We have also seen that HarmonyOS Next is a strategic response by Huawei to the US sanctions and the trade war, expands Huawei’s market share and influence, especially in China and other emerging markets, challenges the existing market structure and competition, especially between Android and iOS, and shapes the future trends and opportunities in the global smartphone market.

Some implications or recommendations for Huawei, developers, users, and policymakers are as follows:

– Huawei should continue to improve the performance, security, and functionality of HarmonyOS Next, and address the compatibility issues with existing apps and services. Huawei should also invest more in research and development, marketing and promotion, and developer and user education and support, to increase the adoption and satisfaction of HarmonyOS Next.

– Developers should seize the opportunity to create native HarmonyOS Next applications and services, and leverage the features and functions of HarmonyOS Next to offer innovative and differentiated solutions. Developers should also collaborate with Huawei and other developers to contribute to the development and improvement of HarmonyOS Next, and access the resources and support provided by Huawei and its platforms and tools.

– Users should be aware of the benefits and drawbacks of HarmonyOS Next, and make informed choices based on their needs and preferences. Users should also explore and enjoy the applications and services available on HarmonyOS Next, and provide feedback and suggestions to Huawei and developers to improve the user experience and satisfaction.

– Policymakers should foster a healthy and fair competition in the global smartphone market, and avoid imposing unreasonable and unjustified restrictions on Huawei and other players. Policymakers should also encourage and support innovation and collaboration in the field of operating systems, and protect the rights and interests of consumers and developers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is HarmonyOS Next?
A: HarmonyOS Next is the latest version of Huawei’s proprietary operating system, aiming to offer a seamless, intelligent experience across a variety of devices and scenarios.

Q: How does HarmonyOS Next boost innovation?
A: HarmonyOS Next enhances innovation by being adaptable and flexible, providing developers with an easier platform to create applications for a diverse range of devices, fostering a conducive environment for creative ideas.

Q: What compatibility risks does HarmonyOS Next pose?
A: HarmonyOS Next, being a new operating system, may pose compatibility risks with apps designed for other operating systems like Android or iOS, potentially limiting the available app options for HarmonyOS Next users.

Q: How is Huawei addressing compatibility issues with HarmonyOS Next?
A: Huawei is actively collaborating with developers to ensure app compatibility with HarmonyOS Next. Additionally, they provide various tools and resources to assist developers in adapting their applications to the new platform.

Q: Can I use my existing Android/iOS apps on HarmonyOS Next?
A: The compatibility of existing apps on HarmonyOS Next depends on individual apps and whether the developer has created a version specifically compatible with HarmonyOS Next.

Q: On what devices will HarmonyOS Next be available?
A: HarmonyOS Next is designed to work across a wide spectrum of devices, including smartphones, tablets, wearables, and even home appliances.

Q: How will HarmonyOS Next impact the future of operating systems?
A: HarmonyOS Next represents a step towards a more integrated and interconnected future by providing a unified platform for all devices, potentially changing the way we interact with technology.

Q: Is HarmonyOS Next available worldwide?
A: The availability of HarmonyOS Next may vary depending on the region and the specific device.

Q: How can developers make their apps compatible with HarmonyOS Next?
A: Developers can utilize the resources provided by Huawei, including their developer toolkit, to ensure their apps are compatible with HarmonyOS Next.

Q: What is the user experience like on HarmonyOS Next?
A: HarmonyOS Next is designed to provide a seamless, intelligent experience across all devices. However, the actual user experience may vary depending on the specific device and apps used.

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