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Huawei’s Harmony OS is not a fork of Android but it is also a fork of Android

No, that headline is not a mistake. Huawei says their much-touted operating system, Harmony OS is ready for the big unveil. The company has said that it will start updating over 200 devices with the new operating system. Harmony OS is Android but it is also not Android.

Harmony OS launch event

This is because Harmony OS, from the looks of it, is not just one operating system. It’s a whole family of Operating Systems at least five of them:

  • Smartphone OS -which looks like a fork or at least a rewrite of Android
  • Pad OS- another Android fork which looks like it was inspired by iOS
  • Smart Watch OS based on Huawei’s own LiteOS
  • Smart TV OS- a mystery
  • Car OS also a mystery
  • Smart things OS based on LiteOS

Harmony OS is therefore more like Microsoft’s failed 2014 attempt to create a Unified Operating system that has the same feel across all platforms and form factors.

Are smartphone OS and pad OS based on Android?

Who cares? Nobody except American bloggers who seem to derive bolshie bloggers who cannot seem to move past this point. Ordinary phone users do not care what the underlying operating system is. They just want to know what apps you can run on it and if it’s not spyware. They want to know whether they can open an app store and easily install WhatsApp. Whether they can run Gmail etc.

To answer the question though for nitpickers, both pad OS and smartphone OS seem to be based on Android. Huawei itself has confirmed this:

To make sure our existing users can still enjoy the experiences that they are familiar with in our phones and tablets, Huawei uses the open-source code from AOSP [Android Open Source Project) in HarmonyOS on the condition of complying with open source license rules and fulfilling related responsibilities and obligations.

Huawei speaking to Computerbase

So Harmony OS is more than just a fork of Android although certain versions of it are based on Android. Why some bloggers seem obsessed with the Android link is beyond me. Despite what the Americans think, Android is an international project and US Acts of Parliament and Executive Orders cannot prevent it from being disseminated and used by others. How do I know? The zealots in the US government once wanted to stop the spread of encryption software, PGP, the author simply published it as a book and started selling it.

We don’t know the answers to questions that matter

I have seen several reviews of pad OS it does seem mature and usable enough. Shockingly no one has answered the simple questions that users are likely to have. Does it run WhatsApp, can you install Facebook onto it. We will just have to wait and see but it’s almost certain these apps will work on Harmony OS.


And stop asking whether it can run Gmail or not. Seriously despite what idiotic top bloggers would have you believe, any smartphone can have Gmail, just use another email client there are thousands that have feature parity with Gmail’s official app.

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5 thoughts on “Huawei’s Harmony OS is not a fork of Android but it is also a fork of Android

  1. Bro people are just disappointed. We were hoping for a new operating system which isn’t aosp or Linux based. That’s why we are like what was the point of claiming it was a new operating system, now it’s just another Apple ecosystem and Samsung smart things ecosystem which Huawei claims to be the first to do it.

  2. Totally agree with the disappointed side of things.
    They have been selling so much and to deliver just a fork is a bit sad. More so when looking at the fact that they have been marketing it as “its not android”…. By disassociating itself from Android this way, they are ultimately slapping every dev who contributed code to android. If they had said “it will be a fork” rather then claim it all as their own os / their own code, then very few people would had cared….

  3. “Why some bloggers seem obsessed with the Android link is beyond me?”

    The reason is because Huawei has been advertising HarmonyOS as an operating system that they developed completely from the ground up as alternative of Android. *It does* matter for not only ‘westerner’ (I don’t really get why you’re so adamant that it only matters to American when in reality it’s a global tech discussion. Even for me who’s from an Asian country, it’s a discussion here too), but tech enthusiasts as well. We were promised that there’s finally a third operating system competing with Android and iOS. To realize that turns out, nope, it’s just yet another Android fork, just like every other ‘OSes’ other manufacturers create, is disappointing.

  4. yes, many of us hope for the third OS after the death of Tizen, BB OS, BB10, Windows Phone, Ubuntu Mobile.
    so it’s a little disappointed to know that Harmony OS is not really a fresh new OS.

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