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Huawei’s long-awaited Hongmeng OS is seen as a potential replacement for Google’s Android after the Chinese telecoms giant was banned from buying American-made technology. Photo: AFP

Huawei set to unveil Hongmeng OS for smart displays as Android fate hangs in the balance

  • Honor, one of Huawei’s two smartphone brands, previously announced that it will release the company’s first smart display products on August 10

Huawei Technologies will first equip its self-developed operating system on new smart display products to be launched by budget brand Honor this weekend, according to people familiar with the situation, as the world’s second-largest smartphone vendor continues to battle the effects of being placed on a US trade blacklist.

The long-awaited OS, known as Hongmeng and now seen as a potential replacement for Google’s OS after Huawei was banned from buying American-made technology, will be introduced during the three-day 2019 Developer Conference event in Dongguan starting August 9, according to the people, who declined to be identified as the information is private.

Huawei declined to comment on the matter.

Honor, one of Huawei’s two smartphone brands, previously announced that it will release the company’s first smart display products on August 10, the second day of the company’s developer conference in Dongguan, which is near the coastal tech hub of Shenzhen and home to Huawei’s headquarters.

On July 26, Honor president George Zhao Ming unveiled the HiSilicon “Honghu 818” intelligent chipset and smart pop-up camera for large screens at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Guangzhou, as a warm-up move ahead of the official release of the smart display products in Dongguan.

Google and Microsoft, whose Android and Windows operating systems are currently used on Huawei’s laptops and tablets, have both suspended access for new Huawei devices with only a 90-day reprieve from the US government, in the wake of it being put on the Commerce Department’s Entity List in May. Although US President Donald Trump said at the Osaka G20 summit in June that some restrictions would be lifted against Huawei, the precise situation remains unclear.

After becoming the world’s number two smartphone vendor in the second quarter, ahead of Apple and behind Samsung, Huawei is under pressure to maintain its momentum as many overseas customers may be put off from buying a phone that potentially does not allow them to access popular Google apps.


Earlier this year, before the trade blacklisting, Huawei acknowledged that it was developing backup systems “but only for use in extenuating circumstances.”

Could global cybersecurity plan solve US’ Huawei worries?

“We don’t expect to use them, and to be honest, we don’t want to use them,” said a Huawei spokesperson in March. “We fully support our partners’ operating systems – we love using them and our customers love using them. Android and Windows will always remain our first choices.”

A smart display is any voice assistant smart speaker designed to be used around the home, which also includes a sizeable touch screen.

As many smart TVs already use Android and Tizen operating systems, IHS Markit senior industry analyst Zaker Li said at this stage it is unclear what kind of additional functionality Hongmeng, which Huawei has described as being aimed at Internet of Things (IoT) applications, may offer.


On, one of China’s major e-commerce platforms, Honor has already started to take reservations for two models of its smart display products, a standard edition and Pro edition, both of which come with 55 inch screens.

In March this year, Huawei’s mobile chief Richard Yu Chengdong told a German publication that the company had developed its own operating systems (OS) for both smartphones and computers, which could be used on its devices in the event that current systems provided by US technology giants were no longer available.


Huawei’s self-developed OS will be able to support a range of products and systems within its own ecosystem, including smartphones, computers, tablets, TVs, automobiles and smart wear, and will also be compatible with all Android applications and existing web applications, Yu was quoted as saying in a Securities Times report published on May 21.

Yu revealed the existence of an alternative OS at a time when the Chinese company is caught in the middle of an escalating trade war between the US and China and as it faces a string of US charges, including that it stole trade secrets, violated economic sanctions and concealed its Iran business dealings via an unofficial subsidiary.

Huawei has repeatedly denied these allegations.

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This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: huawei to unveil o.S. for smart displays