In December 2020, a first beta version of HarmonyOS was made available to developers so that they could start working on compatible applications. Credit: Handout.

Huawei has unleashed the “Kraken.”

No, not a giant mythical beast that fries people to a crisp. But it just might reach 100 million devices by the end of 2021.

We are talking, of course, of the HarmonyOS operating system project, which apparently is taking shape, regardless of Donald Trump and his Five Eyes intelligence nabobs.

What started off as a mere alternative to Android following US sanctions that would stop Huawei from shipping its latest smartphones with Google tools has given birth to a real ecosystem thanks to several key partnerships, The Malay Mail reports.

The Chinese tech manufacturer has been working on developing its new operating system called HarmonyOS for almost two years, following US sanctions that meant Huawei could not integrate Google services (Android and Google Play) into its latest devices.

In December 2020, a first beta version was made available to developers so that they could start working on compatible applications.

The Chinese giant hit a new milestone when presenting its partnership with over 40 companies.

For instance, Huawei is collaborating with household appliance makers to launch as soon as possible products compatible with HarmonyOS as well as brands like Youku.

For example, GizmoChina reports that the HarmonyOS-based Huawei Smarty Selection camera Pro is now on pre-sale on Jingdong (JD.com). 

The Huawei Smart Choice Camera Pro is a surveillance camera that has four selling points: HarmonyOS, secure built-in storage, AI smart detection+, and 2K ultra-high-definition picture quality.

The camera can be placed in the child’s room and can achieve a 360-degree portrait that automatically tracks the child’s movement. The camera can also be connected to a screen in the living room or in the parent’s bedroom.

In addition, the Huawei Smart Camera Pro also supports one-click video calls and NFC tags which support one-touch fast network distribution.

Among the firms partnering with Huawei is major carmaker Volvo, whose parent company is China-based Geely.

According to China Automotive News, Volvo Cars will team up with Huawei to jointly develop an in-car application service platform that is tailor-made for Chinese consumers, covering such features as parking, refueling and entertainment.

It also allows the automaker to embed the “Huawei App Store,” an application distribution platform developed by Huawei, inside its next-generation intelligent in-car interactive system.

Huawei’s smartphones have relied on Google’s Android operating system for a number of years, CNBC reported.

But in 2019, the Chinese firm was put on a US blacklist which restricted its access to American technology and meant it was no longer able to use licensed Android software on its handsets.

In response, Huawei launched its own operating system that same year.

In China, where Huawei is the biggest smartphone maker by market share, not having access to Google’s Android is not a huge problem.

That’s because Google services, such as search, are blocked in the country and users can’t really use them anyway. That also means Huawei’s HarmonyOS has a chance of being successful in the domestic market. 

However, in international markets where apps are built on Google’s services — integrating maps or payments, for example — Huawei could find its HarmonyOS a tough sell.

“It won’t be easy for Huawei to build up a library of premier applications outside of China, as many of them rely on Google for things like digital rights management, location, payment, and notification services,” Bryan Ma, vice-president of devices research at IDC, told CNBC.

“Developers oftentimes have to be selective on which projects they spend their time on, and a key factor in that decision-making is whether there is enough of a critical mass in the user base to justify the time and effort spent in porting applications over,” Ma said.

Huawei also plans on working with an increasing number of partnering firms to implement a “win-win” scenario, Malay Mail reported.

The Chinese giant aims to enhance its user experience compared to that of Android, in order to woo more potential partners who may also want to depend less on Google.

Smartphones, smartwatches, TVs, speakers and even cars … Huawei plans on integrating HarmonyOS into 100 million devices by the end of the year. ­

Let the best system win.

AFP, Malay Mail, GizmoChina, CNBC, China Automotive News