As it turns out, Huawei's HarmonyOS is just Android

Back in August 2019, Huawei announced HarmonyOS, a homegrown operating system that would reduce its dependence on United States companies like Google. That version was for IoT devices, smart TVs, and more, but version 2.0 is the one that's actually coming to smartphones. And if you're all set for a third platform to hit the market with Huawei's dominant market share, you're going to be disappointed.

Ars Technica's Ron Amadeo got his hands on an early beta, enrolling in Huawei's developer program. And as it turns out, HarmonyOS is quite literally Android, Android 10 to be specific. Just like Amazon's Fire OS, it's a fork, the main difference being that Amazon actually acknowledges that Fire OS is based on Android.

At first glance, HarmonyOS looks exactly like EMUI, but that's OK. After all, if Huawei was building its own OS, it would make it visually similar to what it's shipping. And all references to Android gone, with the About screen showing HarmonyOS instead of Android. But then you'll be able to find things like Android Services Library, Android Shared Library, and more.

Android is open source, meaning that Huawei is free to adopt it and change whatever it wants. That means that if you want to, you can easily change the name of the OS to HarmonyOS, and that appears to be what the Shenzhen firm has done here. Indeed, it even has its own Huawei AppGallery installed, which includes, you guessed it, Android apps. It's the exact same selection that you'd find on an Android phone with AppGallery.

Huawei is also keeping a super-tight lid on this. In order to get his hands on the emulator, Amadeo had to send in a picture of his passport and of a credit card for a two-day background check. Note that you can compare this to how easy it is to get started with Google's Android Studio, Apple's Xcode, or Microsoft's Visual Studio. Once approved, he gained access to a remote emulator, not even one that could be downloaded.

It's worth heading over to Ars Technica and reading the whole report. Amadeo clearly did a lot of hard work digging through not only the emulator, but the documentation.

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