Huawei Technologies on Friday unveiled its proprietary operating system for smartphones and other devices, as U.S. trade restrictions imposed in May threaten to cut the Chinese firm’s access to U.S. technologies such as Android.
But Huawei said that for now it would stick to using Google’s Android for smartphones, and the new software will be gradually rolled out to support devices such as smartwatches, speakers and virtual reality gadgets.
The new OS is part of Huawei’s attempt to develop its own technologies from chips to software to reduce its reliance on U.S. firms amid an intensifying U.S.-China trade war.
Huawei had previously given little information about the software, fueling speculation about how quickly or effectively it could find an alternative to the Android system.
“Harmony OS is completely different from Android and iOS,” said Richard Yu, head of Huawei’s consumer business group referring to operating systems developed by Alphabet Inc’s Google and Apple Inc.
“You can develop your apps once, then flexibly deploy them across a range of different devices,” he told a developers’ conference held in Dongguan in southern China, where Huawei has built a lavish new campus modeled after European towns.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has warned that Huawei could be a vehicle for Chinese espionage and put the company on a so-called “entity list”, meaning that U.S. corporations that conduct business with the telecoms giant now require special licenses to do so.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said last week Washington could respond this week to companies that have requested special licenses to sell to Huawei.
Huawei’s Yu said the company has no updated knowledge on whether it can continue to use Android.