Huawei's Android replacement OS will start rolling out in June [Updated]

Huawei P30 Pro
Huawei P30 Pro (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • The new OS that is replacing Android is known as HongMeng internally and is expected to launch next month.
  • Android apps are expected to work with it and will be available through Huawei's AppGallery.
  • Huawei doesn't expect the U.S. ban to affect them because of its self-reliance in both hardware and software.

Updated 12:02 PM ET: Following this report, Huawei reached out to TechRadar to essentially debunk this story. There was apparently "confusion internally" about the new OS, meaning that it will not be launching in June. Instead, Huawei confirmed that HongMeng might be ready for a launch in China in late 2019 with an international release sometime in 2020.

Huawei isn't wasting any time and will be rolling out its own operating system to replace Android next month. The OS goes by the name HongMeng internally and it is compatible with phones, tablets, smartwatches, computers, TVs, and more.

Huawei has had its own OS in the works for years now and it has been ready since January 2018. Alaa Elshimy, Managing Director and Vice President of Huawei Enterprise Business Group Middle East, says the reason it wasn't launched previously is:

We did not want to bring the OS to the market as we had a strong relationship with Google and others and did not want to ruin the relationship. Now, we are rolling it out next month.

The big question is, what about apps? Without app support and having access to those apps, having your own OS means very little. According to Elshimy, all Android apps will work with HongMeng and users will be able to download apps through the Huawei AppGallery.

We've seen third-party app stores tried before, such as Amazon's Appstore for Android. The problem with it and other competing storefronts is that the selection is a fraction of what you can find on the Play Store and apps are usually outdated.

The U.S. ban was announced back on May 20 and later was extended until August 19 when the U.S. Commerce Department granted a temporary license to support existing customers. Once the ban is in effect, it will cut Huawei off from U.S.-made technology. That affects not only software such as Google's Android OS, but also hardware.

The repercussions are already being felt by Huawei with it being banned by the SD Association and being restricted by the Wi-Fi Alliance. Even Huawei's own Kirin processor is at risk after ARM has been forced to cut ties with Huawei. Without the license from ARM for the processor design, it is very possible Huawei won't even be able to make another phone.

According to Elshimy, Huawei doesn't appear to be worried because of how self-reliant it is.

We have all the chipsets except the Intel chips for PCs and servers. Every single storage player in the market is using Qualcomm chipset and we are the only one using our own chipset. That is why we can go at the speed we want.

It remains to be seen how Huawei can survive without access to U.S. technologies, but it doesn't mean the company is dead yet. Trump has floated the idea that Huawei could be part of a future trade deal between the U.S. and China. This feels eerily similar to another trade dispute with Chinese phone maker ZTE who was saved at the last minute by a trade deal with the U.S. However, the longer this goes on, the uglier it gets for both Huawei and the countries involved.

Losing Google support would irreparably damage Huawei's global smartphone business

Jason England
  • If apps are compatible, it's just a matter of getting them on their store.
  • Good luck with that. They are going to have to be sideloaded if any US app companies are banned from doing any work with them.
  • You have no idea what you are talking about. Sideloading isn't a thing in Android except for Google services (when rooting a phone) in case you want to use Google services entirely (Gmaps, Gmail, etc )
  • Sideloading can refer to any method of installing an application without going through the network. On Android, it refers to installing an APK file.
  • Don't talk sense to this dude.
  • 😒 Aww you tried, but thanks for playing. BTW what do you think google services are? .apk Are you new to Android or something? You don't root a phone to install .apk
  • Dude sideloading can totally be refering to installing anything from an entire rom to any part of the phones internal storages including modem, system, etc or a single .apk or even simply data from an .apk if you know so much about this then what are the functions adb push and pull for? Furthermore when can you use these?
  • Jessica everything you're (not your) talking about is irrelevant. We're not talking about ROMs or SDK. He started gmaps gmail so he's only referring to .apk, which can be sideloaded from anywhere. I haven't rooted a phone since the Infuse and Nexus 2 and don't care to so I don't keep up with command functions and what they do. I'm not new to this. But what I do know is that it doesn't take a rocket scientist to sideload .apk, which is the whole point of this conversation... But what do I know
  • Oh my comment went to you, it was meant for the person (nacho aroche) saying that sideloading wasn't a thing in adb except for Google... And fyi those aren't new commands, anyone who's used adb for more then basic one goal tasks they're following a video for would know that
  • Cool, no harm no foul.
  • The only way In which your comment carries any correct notion which I fully believe your unaware of is that technically adb is part of the Android sdk... That shouldn't work for Huawei after the ban
  • “You have no idea what you are talking about” says the guy who thinks he must be rooted to install a apk.....
  • Sideloaded or not it's a great step forward in putting up a choice for the future and reduce relying on monopoly. Good luck to Huawei
  • Maybe. No one has really had great success with forked Android. Most store has always been gimped. So we'll see how this plays out.
  • I honestly wonder how much of this is to use the opportunity to get rid of competitors and/or add additional leverage for these trade discussions. I completely understand not using them for gov use and issuing a warning but these bans seems a bit much
  • From what I gather the powers that be don't really give a damn about their phone business, it's just collateral damage from banning their network equipment. Of course from recent comments either they don't actually pose a security risk and Trump is a liar or they do and Trump is an idiot. Personally, I don't know whether they are or not, but I am sure that Trump is a liar AND an idiot.
  • We know, Trump 2020!
  • You know he's a liar and an idiot too, but you're still promoting him for 2020? You're such a drama queen!
  • There was a choice between Clinton and Trump which meant Trump due to the Clinton baggage and her being a crook,liar, and thief among other things.
  • Yup, Trump 2020. Never socialist. America first. The only idiots are those that support the likes of AOC and voted for the criminal Clinton.
  • Socialism will ruin USA. USA has more than 48,000,000 humans living in the country who do not have access to proper food. They live below the poverty line. Just imagine,socialism- Kids having 3 meals a day,access to free good quality medical and dental care. USA will become a 3rd world country instaneously
  • Yeah to bad that's a pipe dream that will never happen,its been said that a lot of those people are addicts and alcoholic and will not work even given a job. Similar to the fraud with food stamps of people selling their benifits.
  • If thinking that bullshit helps you to sleep at night...
  • Wow, and it's been said means it's true. You must be a a Fox news Republican. Who, past the 3rd grade says, it's been said, without a citation and believes it means anything? This is a forum dedicated to commenting on Huwei`s new OS so might I suggest you troll elsewhere.
  • Remind me,Trump,the successful businessman who only made financial losses on two casinos and let out his real estate to the russians. At least Trump is entirely self made. Trump was born a poor HOBO and look where he is now. I would not trust Clinton
  • You think Trump only lost money on 2 casinos? And was born poor? Please tell me you're being sarcastic. Seriously.
  • Talk about r/woooosh
  • entirely self made? he got 400 million from his daddy and failed every business he ventured in except for real estate.
  • The Democrats are on board with the ban too.
  • benefits. The Dems are on board with anything they think will get them votes or power reality is they are all talk and no action.
  • And I'm equally sure that you're the idiot and dumbass. MAGA
  • Awww, if your opinion mattered at all, that would've hurt my feelings! You don't think America is great? What are you, some damn commie? NASA
  • Smh you seemed to have some valid info, then your last sentence revealed that your a total moron .
  • Which part in particular to you find moronic? Or are you one of those people who just thinks anyone you don't agree with is a moron?
  • That's exactly what it's about. Huawei has been investigated in the US and other countries by government security organizations, and they've come up with nothing. This is about Trump and trade, and not wanting China to lead 5G technology over the US.
  • That's gonna be a... You know, a... Fascinating transition.
  • I'm honestly pretty excited to see what they've come up with. Always exciting to see a new OS. But without Google apps, it's gonna be a tough road ahead.
  • Hopefully when they roll out this update it will be an Opt In situation. Hopefully they don't force the update onto users. Existing devices should still be able to use Android if the user wants to.
  • Form Huawei's spokesperson reply, it is absolutely clear of their threat to destabilize the world. he said it... they will continue with SD, wifi and bluetooth anyway.. he also said, apps will be available in huawei store. if huawei dont care about copyright. they can,
    1) continue using arm design and dont pay them anything. its only a license.
    2) copy the entire google app store and load it into huawei store. then make all paid apps available for free. if the above happens. all of asia, india and africa will be using any huawei phones. and there is nothing google can do about it. they are banned in usa anyway...
  • what if they also
    1) set up a music store and load every song for free.
    2) copy every video from youtube into their site.
    3) outright steal contents of google map and make their own app. will google go to china and sue them? what will their government say?
  • Dude, they still can use them. They just can't participate in future development since they are no longer a member. As for ARM, they have perpetual lic for v8. Get your facts straight before fearmongering.
  • Not only does Huawei have a license for V8, but they have the experience of tweaking that and previous ARM reference designs to make their own chipsets. Huawei is likely fully confident that they can completely take over designing their own chipsets now, using V8 as a base. Considering their manufacturing capabilities, their current install base, and their financial wherewithal... they're probably right. They also now have no incentive to not sell their chipsets to other OEMs. If they're even close to equal in performance they'll attract buyers, which would definitely eat into Qualcomm's sales and margins. MTCW.
  • Why would anything change China has been stealing everything for a long time it's not just the government it's also these companies for cheap labor.
  • Newsflash: US companies happily run to China for cheap labor. Including Trumps. They have the choice of employing Americans and doing business in their own country, or doing it in China so their bottom line is bigger and they make more money. Their. Choice.
  • Trump: It's my way or the Huawei....just don't mess with my OnePlus please, I really like this phone.
  • This just might succeed. Huawei
    has a huge installation base and there is no reason not to upload my app/content to Huawei store if I were a developer, especially if it doesn't cost anything. And it's time for some alternatives to Gmail/gmaps/chrome monopoly and I will be happy to try if it is of quality.
  • HongMeng!! - now with China's Social Credit score baked right into the OS!
  • I hate monopoly on anything. Huawei OS might have some issues at the beginning, but I will give it an honest try. Huawei wish you best of lick.
  • Ha ha Android Central!
  • The OS needs to be pretty damn good in order for anyone to use it. Remember when Android was just released, if you compare it to today's version, it was garbage back then.
  • No, it just has to be good enough. In many, many countries price is king. If their phones are cheap enough, and do everything that users need they'll get plenty of customers. Huawei (and their Honor subsidiary) already makes better cheap phone hardware than anybody else. As long as their OS has the few mandatory apps for those markets it'll be "good enough".
  • Huawei are just a convenient whipping boy for Trump in his bigger war with China. Where's the ban on Motorola, the (gasp!) American company now owned by Lenovo? Once he's preened and told the world he brought the Chinese to the table, possibly making The Greatest Trade Deal in history, we'll all go back to normal service. Plus Huawei now know Google totally has their backs.
  • So when's Mobile Nations kicking off HongMeng Central? 😉
  • I wonder if my P20 will ever recieve the new OS.
  • Android is open source, there are already many forks. Android apk is open source. American app companies can't decide, and won't even know which OS, be it Android prime, Android fork, or Huawei's OS their apk runs on. Huawei already has their own store. In fact, there are multiple Chinese app stores, some with over 1 million apps and over 200 million users.
    Hell, WeChat has over 1 million apps within their one app. The app ecosystem is mature and flourishing over there, even before you add in Android's 2 million apps. As for ARM, their license contract with Huawei is permanent, not renewable. Under existing US laws, as well as laws in every other country, a permanent license is a one time binding sale, cannot be cancelled or modified. Huawei already designs, manufactures their Kirin cpus, and has complete grasp over the underlying architecture. Legally as well as in practice, that boat has sailed.
  • Basically this is down too Huawei being too good...Apple being crap and falling down in choice of phones and other tech..this is trumps way of putting apple up the pecking order and forcing people not to choose Huawei... Only apple will be perfectly safe with trump in charge...i will keep my Huawei I've already got access too sideload this phone with the whole android framework etc... The Chinese have been doing it for ages either not using google services or sideloading it all... The thing is Huawei have been developing their own OS for at least 3 years that I know of... They will also have been working on other Google alternatives with browsers etc... I know this trump is a **** head and this will backfire.. I feel sorry for the people who cannot afford to change their devices... I cer will never buy an apple based device and I think opera mini will be a big player in this as its scandanavian
  • He had to help out his good friend Tim Apple.
  • I still think that Apple and Samsung are scared of their toughest competitor and may have something to do with this. Huawei came up with some really nice handsets that beat any phones out there...
  • Good news. And well done Huawei
  • Sailfish OS needs to be into the global market this might be a chance
  • More customers for Apple. We gotta start standing as one and realize who the real competition is.
  • You should switch "updated" with "debunked" on the title
  • I hope huawei will improve the appgallery to be exactly like play store or I will change my huawei phone to other brandd.Thats all.
  • C'mon Huawei, will you like... Stop spying on us? We will all just be happier.
  • Empty space 1 Google shotgiant
    USA hacked into Huawei main frame servers
    as far back as 2014
    Facebook lost millions of members details
    Fbi/cia tried to get access to files on apple phones and laptop by means of a backdoor access so tell me once again who's doing the spying, don't make me laugh I KNOW JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE U-S-A
  • It's very easy for the OS to load apps via Google services API same techniques used in automated testing and firewall security appliances.
    Linux vendors getting around DVD compression it's automated
  • Your reference to HongMeng is not entirely accurate anymore.
  • Best cell phone this is 2nd which I perchsed best of luck
  • Huawei will fail with this new OS without the popular apps from the Play Store like Windows Phone before it.
  • Windows Phone was a bad OS, it was not developer friendly and very restrictive, that's why it did not have much apps. Huawei will still run APKs, so I doubt I will have a problem with it.
  • Can someone explain why Huawei can't use the Open Gapps like you do after installing a custom OS.
  • Google's monopoly is going to end!
  • Don't understand all the angst here. I've never had a Huawei phone, and never would even consider one because they are in bed with a Communist dictatorship. It used to be that Americans understood what Communism does to countries that embrace it. Now, we have millions of idiots in this country, and an entire political party (Democrats) who think it's great, because Trump or something. It's absolutely amazing to see the mass stupidity on display in this country. It's a testament to the impact of indoctrination in American public schools.
  • I do not care about apps because I mainly just listen to music not plays games...but how about the gallery???
    Will my Photos and Videos be saved????
  • Could Huawei phones adapt iOS?
  • But even if it coukd have android compatibility it can’t offer US apps (no Facebook,whatsapp, google apps, etc.) on its store other than by side loading them