After Google blocked Huawei from accessing the Android operating system, the Chinese tech company announced that it had developed its own operating system called HarmonyOS. At the time, consumer business chief Richard Yu said that the operating system “was not a clone of Android, nor a clone of iOS” and was very different from the two mobile operating systems, the world’s most popular move above.
This made reporter Ron Amadeo very interested in him and he decided to dig deeper to find out his essence.
An arduous app development journey for HarmonyOS
However, this turned out not to be easy and was more difficult than conventional reverse engineering. Wanting to test HarmonyOS, Amadeo had to go through the most complicated registration process ever.
In order to access the HarmonyOS SDK and its emulator, Amadeo must scan its passport, email information, phone number, and credit card photo and send it to Huawei for examination. After two days of waiting, it will be verified to receive the HarmonyOS SDK.
To download the App Development Kit for HarmonyOS, Amadeo had to send you both your scanned passport and credit cards.
Meanwhile, to become an iOS developer, you just need a Mac computer and then go to the Apple App Store to download Xcode and you can start building your app. The difference is really a breeze between the two companies.
After two days of waiting, Huawei finally agreed to Amadeo to access the HarmonyOS development kit. But he also cannot install the emulator on his computer. Instead, when it logs into the SDK, it activates a “remote emulator” – like HarmonyOS that’s streamed into Amadeo from somewhere on the Internet.
The simulated phone ran in China, used a Chinese SIM card, and worked on a network called “Huawei Intranet” – so it was probably connected to a real HarmonyOS phone in China. Website and navigation are disabled on this device. Even running USB debugging will cause connection loss.
HarmonyOS skin but soul Android OS?
Your eyes will instantly hit the familiar images in Settings and around phone screens for Android. The difference is that they are now called HarmonyOS. Huawei said it has moved its EMUI interface to HarmonyOS, and thus it has the same interface as that of Android. But the commands below the interface show the true nature of HarmonyOS.
HarmonyOS settings and About screens are nearly identical to Android.
Install DevInfo on the virtual machine, the system portion states that the device’s operating system is actually Android 10, not HarmonyOS. Not only that, when you go to the apps section in the settings, you will see the typical Android apps including: “Android Services Library”, “Android Sharing Library”, “com.Android.systemui.overlay”, “androidhwext” and much more.
DevInfo and the apps below show that HarmonyOS is basically Android 10
Some apps just seem to change in name from Android to HarmonyOS, for example “HarmonyOS System Version 10” appears to have originated from Android version 10. How can HarmonyOS migrate from 2.0 to version 10 now?
Compared to an operating system that is still in beta like HarmonyOS, its perfection is surprising. It has a great gesture control system, millions of settings in settings, licensing system, NFC support, dark mode, and a perfect message notification panel – all the same – as in Android 10.
New in development and yet to be released, many apps in the Huawei App Galley on HarmonyOS have hundreds of reviews, many of them for several years.
Compared to an operating system that is not released, there are no users, but the app on it is surprisingly high in terms of quantity and quality. In Huawei’s app gallery, you can see apps from Google, Microsoft, Amazon, WeChat, TikTok, Tencent, Baidu … Many apps had hundreds of reviews posted by users a few years ago – at a time when HarmonyOS wasn’t introduced yet!
HarmonyOS Application Development
Then Amadeo tried to create an app from the HarmonyOS SDK. Produces a .hap file (HarmonyOS Ability Packages).
Similar to the .apk file. For Android app, if you change .hap extension to .zip, the app will be unzipped and you can take a closer look inside. The .hap extension app is full of the Android icon, Amadeo noticed. Not only that, but Android decompiler tools also work with HarmonyOS – another clear indication that HarmonyOS is Android.
Another thing is that the HarmonyOS apps built from the SDK will call Android API 29 or Android 10.
The third-party software is used by the HarmonyOS SDK, which has 27 software packages with Android.
Even the SDK from Huawei itself, called (DevEco Studio), appears to be using the same basic components as Google’s Android Studio SDK, with a lot of code pulled from Android. It is based on Jetbrains Intellij IDE with Gradle and is nearly identical to Android Studio. If you take a look at the list of “third-party programs” on the “About” screen of DevEco Studio, you will see 27 packages of applications that start with the word Android – such as the Android SDK Tools, Android DEX Library, Android Gradle Plugin and more.
At least that makes it familiar to the developers.
I honestly admit Huawei!
After hours of digging through the HarmonyOS development kit, Amadeo couldn’t find a single point of difference between the OS and Android, except for a few names. In other words, HarmonyOS appears to be an Android-based operating system with an interface taken from Huawei’s EMUI skin.
Actually, there’s nothing wrong with this. The Amazon FireOS operating system installed on the company’s Kindle tablets does the same. But let’s admit this honestly. Suppose “HarmonyOS is an offshoot of Android” instead of an authorization.HarmonyOS does not copy AndroidOr is it a brand new operating system?
Let’s see what Amazon claims FireOS. On the Fire OS overview page, Amazon bluntly said:Fire OS is the operating system that runs on the Amazon Tablet and Fire TV. Fire OS is a branch of Android, so you can run Android apps, and most of them run on Amazon Fire devices.. “
However, although there is a lot of evidence that HarmonyOS is an operating system made out of Android, Huawei’s “App Basics” page – A Guide for App Developers on HarmonyOS – does not contain a single, any word for Android.
In fact, when Google and most of the company’s services are banned in China, nearly every smartphone maker in China tries to devise their own suite of apps to replace the affected ecosystem. Google’s deficit here – Huawei is no exception. But this is no reason to use an Android OS with fresh skins and claim that it is a brand new operating system that does not clone Android. No smartphone brand in the world does this, and neither does any Chinese brand.
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