One year ago, Huawei announced HarmonyOS as its own custom operating system. Huawei CEO Richard Yu said at that time that HarmonyOS could be used on smartphones at any time, and now it looks like Huawei is getting ready to do just that.
Huawei today announced HarmonyOS 2.0, a major update to its custom OS. The company unleashed the HarmonyOS 2.0 developer beta SDK smart TVs, smartwatches, and in-car head units today, but it said that it plans to offer a smartphone version of the SDK in December 2020.
"So maybe starting from next year we will see smartphones with HarmonyOS," said Huawei CEO Richard Yu.
The update to HarmonyOS 2.0 brings several improvements, including the ability to build one UI and have it scale to different devices including a TV, phone, in-car head unit, and tablet. It's also got AI voice interactions that let you interact with content on your screen using your voice, like speaking the name of a link on a web page or saying "Pause" to control a video.
Huawei has been dealing with the US ban for more than a year now that prevents it from loading new versions of Android with Google apps onto its new devices. And because there doesn't appear to be an end to that ban in sight, it makes sense that Huawei consider bringing HarmonyOS to its smartphones since that operating system is under its control.
Meanwhile, Huawei also announced EMUI 11 today. This is an update to its custom Android UI known as EMUI. Because of the aforementioned ban on Huawei, though, the update to EMUI 11 is actually based on Android 10 just like EMUI 10 was.
That doesn't mean that Huawei hasn't added new features to the EMUI 11 update. It brings improved Always On Display options, harmonized vibrations that "dance" along to your ringtones, and custom art themes to help you customize the user interface. There's also a new privacy feature that'll show a status bar indicator when an app is accessing your camera, location, or microphone, plus AI subtitles for real-time translations from English, Japanese, and Korean to Chinese.
Huawei hasn't said when it'll begin rolling out the EMUI 11 update to the public.