I finally ‘get’ Huawei’s HarmonyOS – but it’s definitely not for everyone


When Huawei’s HarmonyOS was being shown off at its June 2 launch event, I was getting a live demo of the new jack of all trades operating system in a fancy 5-star hotel where prices a night exceeded £200. starts and goes up. Up to around £1,000.

I was shown running HarmonyOS on a tablet, on a smartwatch, on earbuds, and more. One demonstration featured a YouTube video on a laptop when a connected smartphone received a call, which was then sent via the smartwatch to some paired headphones. Another use case was a photo taken from nearby St. Pancras station, which was seamlessly dropped onto a nearby PC for easy editing.

My favorite showcase was when a smartphone was paired with an action camera to record 4K footage, with heart rates from the smartwatch mounted on top. It both looked cool, and is probably very useful for adventurers who like to record action footage.

Until this demonstration, I didn’t fully understand HarmonyOS – it didn’t look like Huawei had much to gain in building on its Android rival, as it didn’t solve a major problem with Huawei phones.

Huawei Watch 3 . on HarmonyOS

Since the ban on Huawei, the company’s phones have not been allowed to use the Google Mobile Services app, which includes the Play Store and the vast library to which it provides access.

Now, I think I got it. Huawei’s focus isn’t on creating killer new software, but it’s giving you a reason to buy into its ecosystem of gadgets. Huawei wants you to buy more than just a smartphone.

HarmonyOS Android is not copying

I was under the impression that HarmonyOS was an attempt by Huawei to create its own software due to the restrictions imposed by the Huawei ban. Maybe that was the case, but what I was shown in the HarmonyOS demo gave me a different idea of ​​its purpose.

HarmonyOS’ Whole shtick This is how the same operating system works between gadgets. Your smartphone will run the same software, and so will the apps and system, such as your watch or tablet or headphones. It lets all your gadgets work synchronously.

Sure, it’s comparable to Apple’s ecosystem of devices, or even Google’s various software, plus the Bluetooth connectivity standard makes it easy for most types of devices to work together. But different Apple products, or Google gadgets, all run different operating systems, and since HarmonyOS devices all run on the same operating system, that should make it easier for developers to design apps that work seamlessly between platforms. work.

For example, the performance of a smartphone pulling video from an action cam, stats from a smartwatch and the described performance of recording it in 4K – looks like something Apple or Android devices would struggle with. For HarmonyOS, it was intuitive.

Huawei Mate 40 Pro runs on Android with EMUI

Huawei is one of many companies having 1+X+N strategy, where ‘1’ is your smartphone which controls ‘X’ number of close products like smartwatches and headphones (in Huawei’s case it is 8), then ‘N’ represents a wide ecosystem of other smart products like printers, game consoles etc.

What does that really mean? This means that your smartphone is the center of a large web of connected devices.

Having used Android phones with Wear OS, Google Chromecast, and others, which often have connection issues and issues that make them frustrating to use, I really appreciate the seamless form of connectivity that HarmonyOS offers. is.

Huawei clearly portrays you using all of its products – Huawei Watch 3 on your wrist, Mate 40 Pro in your pocket, MatePad Pro 12.6 in your bag, Vision 4K TV on your wall, MateBook X Pro on your desk And you have FreeBuds 4. ear. The list of its products goes on, and once all are on HarmonyOS, they should be pretty… well, working in harmony.

But while this Huawei-focused future sounds lovely, it’s also very specific.

Harmony on your phone, chaos in the bank

If HarmonyOS is the ‘strength-in-numbers’ kind of operating system, which becomes really useful when you have a lot of gadgets, it logically follows that you will be able to make the most of it only if you Will have spent all. Money on Huawei’s technology.

Huawei Matebook X Pro 2021

But when you look at the price tag on a lot of Huawei’s output – keep in mind that it’s generally a premium-priced company – you’ll soon realize the problem with it. HarmonyOS is only accessible if you have a lot of money, especially since it lets you own not only a few main smart gadgets, but a wide web of peripherals.

In the UK, where I live, we are less than a year out of recession, and COVID-19 has severely affected their finances for most people globally. The number of people who buy expensive Huawei (or any other company) phones, tablets, TVs, monitors, smartwatches and more is very small.

This echoes a common problem with Internet of Things gadgets, which are smart connected homes and gadgets that all talk to each other. This only works if you can afford household hubs for every room, intelligent kitchen appliances, wrist-mounted powerhouses, color-changing lights, etc., and each of those gadgets are higher than their non-smart counterparts. Comes with a price (or just doesn’t own them).

Standing in that London hotel, marveling at the demonstrations and performances, the thought of ‘wow, that’s cool’ shook elbows with the knowledge that this kind of technology would always be out of reach for people like me.

I’ll never have a smart home, and I’m fine with that. My TV will never ‘speak’ to my computer, mainly because I don’t have any of these things. Tech isn’t for everyone—lots of companies thrive by rolling out high-priced gadgets that few can cost—but some of us have to settle for cheaper tools.

That’s HarmonyOS, then – the hotel I stood in at the time I saw it, it’s not for everyone. It’s undoubtedly cool, and attractive, with lots of uses if you’re really invested. But the hefty cost of admission makes it unaffordable for many people out there, myself included.

  • Huawei MatePad Pro and MatePad 11 tablets unveiled with HarmonyOS on board

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