Huawei has finally unveiled HarmonyOS, its long-discussed in-house operating system. Previously believed to have been called HongMeng OS, the details shared by Huawei earlier today pretty much match what was expected of HongMeng, including the microkernel-based design for cross device compatibility, a secure operation environment, Android apps compatibility, and so on. As disclosed by Huawei, HarmonyOS will first feature on the Honor Vision TV, and while the company does have plans to use it on phones as well, that is a contingency plan if Huawei is not allowed to use Android in the long run.
In terms of salient features, HarmonyOS uses a microkernel at the base, which is important for cross-device type functionality. To enhance this further, Huawei has used a distributed design factor to de-couple its operating system from the hardware, which would essentially allow developers to build for the software, and then use the same base code to have an app operate on a laptop, a television, a smartphone and whatever else HarmonyOS might be compatible with. According to Huawei, "close-coupling between app ecosystem and hardware compromises user experience and developer efficiency," and HarmonyOS will reportedly take a step beyond Android and Linux kernels, on this note.
HarmonyOS has just been announced at #HDC2019! How are we going to build an all-scenario smart ecosystem and experience? How will we overcome the challenges of future OS for connected things? Stayed tuned with us to find out. pic.twitter.com/x7ZbgcEy2d
— Huawei Mobile (@HuaweiMobile) August 9, 2019
However, such cross-platform computing and app building may lead to considerable security concerns about what apps and services run on it. Huawei has addressed this with the presence of a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) kernel, which the company has claimed can be "scaled on demand" based on the security standards that a device or a computing environment demands. On the Evaluation Assurance Level (EAL) scale, Huawei has claimed that its new OS has received an EAL 5+ certification, which is the highest for a consumer-grade operating system.
In terms of everyday performance and the method of response between hardware elements and their software fronts, Huawei uses a fundamentally different architecture than Android and Linux's stacked scheduling mechanism. Here, HarmonyOS uses a single-layer distributed virtual bus, coupled with what they call a "deterministic latency engine". What this essentially means is that there will be real-time resource load analysis and app characteristic forecasting by the software's algorithms in order to improve the response time of a hardware element and the app it represents. For the consumer, this should mean lesser lags when accessing multiple apps, and smoother multitasking and switching.
Cross-device app development is being encouraged by Huawei, who is providing their ARK compiler for supporting multiple programming languages, and an integrated development environment (IDE) to assist the developer interface for apps. The OS kernel is compatible with all apps that are compatible with Android, but presents a far lighter code base in comparison to the latter. To enhance security, Huawei will not allow end-user root access, which some power users may not be too happy about.