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Harmony Operating System

Every OEM has their method of making Android feel more personal. Xiaomi has MIUI, OnePlus has Oxygen OS, while Samsung has One UI. On the other hand, Huawei has had to take an entirely different approach to its mobile operating system. The company's complex history with Google and the United States resulted in a brand-new platform called Harmony OS.

With Huawei's ongoing problems, you'd anticipate a moniker akin to dis-Harmony OS, but the business isn't concerned about other Android devices. Instead, the operating system is focused on broad support across all of Huawei's product lines. In this article, you will learn about the Harmony operating system's history, and features.

What is Harmony Operating System?

Harmony Operating System

HarmonyOS (HMOS) is a distributed operating system created by Huawei that allows numerous smart devices in the Internet of Things ecosystem to collaborate and link. The OS chooses suitable kernels from the abstraction layer for devices with varying resources in its existing multi-kernel design. The system is reportedly built on the LiteOS kernel for IoT devices. Additionally, it is based on a Linux kernel layer with AOSP libraries to allow native HarmonyOS apps for smartphones and tablets and APK programs to use ART via the Ark Compiler.

The system includes a DSoftBus communication base for integrating physically different devices into a virtual Super Device, allowing one device to manage others and transferring data across devices having dispersed communication capabilities. It supports a variety of app kinds, including lightweight Atomic Services that users may access, installation-free Quick applications, and software that may be downloaded through the App Gallery on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. In August 2019, Harmony OS made its debut in Honor smart TVs, and it was also utilized in Huawei smartphones, tablets, and wearable technology after June 2021.

History of Harmony Operating System

Huawei officially announced HarmonyOS on August 9, 2019, during its maiden developers' conference in Dongguan. According to Huawei, HarmonyOS is a free, microkernel-based distributed OS for many devices. It was not positioned as a Mobile operating system as the company mainly focused on IoT devices like smart TVs, wearable technology, and in-car entertainment systems.

Harmony OS 2.0 will be released on September 10, 2020, during the Huawei Developer Conference. Huawei stated that the operating system would be available on its devices in 2021. Harmony OS 2.0's first developer beta was released on December 16, 2020. The IntelliJ IDEA-based DevEco Studio IDE and a cloud emulator with early access were also unveiled by Huawei.

On June 2, 2021, Huawei formally unveiled Harmony OS 2.0 and introduced new handsets shipping with the OS. Users then gradually started getting system updates for Huawei's earlier phones.

How does it work?

The system is based on a microkernel, a small software structure for operating system mechanisms. Microkernel techniques use less source code than multilayer monolithic kernel systems.

According to Huawei, HarmonyOS runs on only 100 lines of code and exceeds Android in terms of performance because of its "Deterministic Latency Engine". It is a matter of optimizing performance, in which the system eliminates communication channels between software and hardware, minimizing latency.

An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and a distributed architecture kit are used to offer the multi-device component. The concept is that developers may design apps that run on several devices more effectively. Users may develop their apps once and deploy them across numerous hardware platforms because of the multi-device IDE. The concept is to create a tightly linked ecosystem that covers all consumer devices. It is made feasible using an ARK compiler, a system that enables developers to develop in multiple languages and then translate them into a single language for HarmonyOS.

What devices will it be on?

Huawei stated that HarmonyOS would be deployed initially on devices aimed at the Chinese market. Honor, the company's former subsidiary brand, announced the Honor Vision series of smart TVs as the company's first consumer electronics products to run HarmonyOS. HarmonyOS 2.0 beta, which was released on December 16, 2020, supports the P30 and P40 series, the Mate 30, Mate 40 series, the P50 series, and the MatePad Pro. In June 2021, HarmonyOS version 2.0 for smartphones and tablets was launched as an upgrade version for Mate X2 and P40. HarmonyOS is available on the MatePad Pro, the new Huawei Watch, and the PixLab X1 desktop printer. HarmonyOS 2.0 has almost 150 million users as of October 2021.

Relationship with OpenEuler

In terms of architecture, HarmonyOS is highly related to OpenEuler, and Huawei manufactures the community version of EulerOS due to kernel technology commonality. According to sources, the future collaboration will mainly be focused on the distributed software bus, a device driver framework, system security, and a new programming language.

HarmonyOS Ecosystem

There are various terms for the HarmonyOS ecosystem. Some terms of the HarmonyOS ecosystem are as follows:

1. HarmonyOS Connect

During a meeting in Shanghai on May 18, 2021, Huawei planned to improve its HarmonyOS Connect brand with a standard badge to assist industry partners in producing, selling and running products with third-party OEMs. Smart devices powered by HarmonyOS, such as speakers, refrigerators, and cookers of various brands, may be connected and combined into one super gadget with a single touch of a smartphone without the need to install any programs, enabling quick and inexpensive connections to consumers.

The HarmonyOS Connect distinguishes the platform from conventional mobile and computer platforms and the company's earlier attempts at building an ecosystem with its Android-based EMUI and LiteOS connections.

2. HarmonyOS Cockpit

Huawei launched a smart cockpit solution for electric and autonomous vehicles on April 27, 2021, driven by HarmonyOS and utilizing its Kirin range of system-on-chip (SoC) products. Huawei made APIs available to assist automobile OEMs, suppliers, and ecosystem partners in building features to fulfil consumer needs. Huawei built a modular SoC for automobiles that would be pluggable and simple to upgrade to maintain the cockpit's top performance. Users will be able to upgrade the chipset the same way they would upgrade a complete desktop computer with its scaled distributed OS.

Huawei introduced HarmonySpace on December 21, 2021, and it was a dedicated HarmonyOS vehicle OS. Apps from smartphones and tablets may be readily incorporated into vehicles using HarmonySpace, and smartphone projection is based on Huawei's 1+8 ecology.

Huawei unveiled the AITO M5, a medium-sized SUV, on December 23, 2021. It has the HarmonyOS ecosystem with continuous AI learning optimization and over-the-air updates. Huawei formally introduced the AITO smart choose automobile on July 4, 2022, with shipments to consumers beginning in August 2022. The business garnered 10,000 pre-orders for its M7 model at the launch in only two hours.

3. MineHarmony OS

Huawei announced the launch of MineHarmony OS on September 14, 2021, a specialized OS for industrial apps based on its own HarmonyOS. About 400 different types of underground coal mining equipment are compatible with MineHarmony, which gives the kit a single interface to transmit and gather data for analysis. According to Wang Chenglu, President of Huawei's consumer business AI and smart full-scenario business department, the launch of MineHarmony OS represented the shift of the HarmonyOS ecosystem from B2C to B2B.

Issues of HarmonyOS

Huawei applied to the Chinese Patent Office CNIPA to register the trademark "Hongmeng" in May 2019. However, the application was refused under Article 30 of the PRC Trade Mark Law, noting that the brand was similar to "CRM Hongmeng" in graphic design and "Hongmeng" in the Chinese world.

In May 2021, the Beijing Intellectual Property Court issued the first-instance finding in favour of the CNIPA decision. The trademark was not sufficiently unique regarding its specified services less than a week before HarmonyOS 2.0 and new smartphones by Huawei. Additionally, the trademark was said to have been transferred adequately from Huizhou Qibei Technology to Huawei by May 2021.

Relationship with OpenHarmony, LiteOS, and Linux

Huawei has provided an open-source version of Harmony operating system named OpenHarmony to the OpenAtom Foundation. It supports many different devices, including smartwatches, speakers, printers, and other smart gadgets, that run small systems with memory as small as 128 KB. It also runs a standard system with memory higher than 128 MB. The open-source OS has the same fundamental features as HarmonyOS and doesn't depend on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).

On the other hand, HarmonyOS is based on Huawei's proprietary microkernel architecture and uses AOSP ART codes from EMUI and a Linux kernel subsystem in smart devices to allow the OS to operate APK applications with devices for compatibility without root support, similar to older Huawei EMUI-based smartphones. Furthermore, the OS enables native HarmonyOS apps on Huawei Mobile Services-enabled handsets.

HarmonyOS chooses appropriate OS kernels for devices with different resource constraints using a multi-kernel approach. HarmonyOS uses the LiteOS kernel rather than the Linux kernel on low-power gadgets like smartwatches and the Internet of Things.

Features of Harmony Operating System

1. Better Experience

It uses distributed virtual bus and architectural technologies to provide distributed data management, a shared communications platform, distributed task scheduling, and virtual peripherals. Distributed app developers won't have to worry about the underlying technology using HarmonyOS, allowing them to concentrate on their service logic.

Distributed application development will be simpler than before. Apps built on HarmonyOS may operate on many devices while providing a unified, collaborative experience across all cases.

2. All in One

It may quickly adapt to several screen layout controls and interactions. It enables both drag-and-drop control and preview-oriented visual programming because of a multi-language unified compilation, multi-device IDE, and a distributed architecture kit. It enables developers to create programs that operate on numerous devices more effectively. Developers may utilize a multi-device IDE to create their apps once and publish them across various platforms, resulting in a closely linked ecosystem across all user devices.

The Huawei ARK Compiler is the first static compiler capable of matching the performance of Android's virtual machine, allowing developers to compile a diverse set of complex languages into machine code in a single, unified environment. The Huawei ARK Compiler will enhance developer efficiency by allowing suitable compilation in many languages.

3. Better Performance

HarmonyOS will address performance issues, including Deterministic Latency Engine and high-speed Inter-Process Communication (IPC).

The Deterministic Latency Engine determines task execution priority and time limitations. The response time of apps will decrease by 25.7% as resources move toward activities with higher priorities. IPC performance can be up to five times more effective with the microkernel than with current systems.

4. More Secure

HarmonyOS employs a new microkernel design that provides increased security and reduced latency. This microkernel was created to simplify kernel functions and provide as many system services as feasible in user mode outside of the kernel. It is also used to provide mutual security protection. The microkernel itself merely offers the most fundamental functions, such as thread scheduling and IPC. The microkernel design of Harmony OS reshapes security and trustworthiness from the ground up in a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) using formal verification approaches.

Traditional verification methods, such as functional verification and attack simulation, are constrained to certain situations. Still, formal verification methods provide an effective mathematical way to check system correctness. On the other hand, formal approaches may employ data models to validate all program execution routes. HarmonyOS is the first operating system to apply formal verification in device TEE, greatly enhancing security. Furthermore, because the HarmonyOS microkernel has far less code, the likelihood of an attack is considerably decreased.

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