back to article Hongmeng, there's no need to feel down: It's patently obvious this is Huawei's homegrown OS

Huawei has been spotted nestling in datasets hosted by colourful UN patent body WIPO, but rather than having any sort of dispute, it has been filing a barrow-load of trademarks on the term "Hongmeng" – thought to be the preferred moniker for its homegrown OS. The embattled Chinese outfit has filed for a Hongmeng trademark in …

  1. big_D Silver badge

    Interesting...

    Google has said that a lack of Android updates after the August exemption expires would be a massive security risk to consumers – and is reportedly "concerned" about what a Huawei-modified version of Android would look like.

    Because when the ban was first announced, it said that updates wouldn't be a problem, Huawei would continue to get their updates through AOSP, so no problems. They just wouldn't be able to provide version upgrades or new devices, other than what is already on the market.

    So, what has changed their tune?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      It's just Google kowtowing to the White House.

      Just as Google has kowtowed to Moscow, Beijing and basically everybody that is a threat to its revenue.

      1. jgarbo

        It's not kowtowing. It's doing business. You sell what the buyers want, not your fantasy of what they should. Or make another Edsel, Newton, Buggy Whip Elite, and watch the money...slip away.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I beg to differ. Companies do the complete opposite. Albeit in different strategies. Some like to throw everything at the fish and hope one sticks. By everything I mean they make several products each with each own disadvantages and advantages but different enough to diferentiate them from one another.. or not. Others make that "almost perfect but not just yet" compromised stuff and lure us in with promise of the "better version next time" (which of course never comes).

          But there never is that product that is perfect (or even near perfect for that matter).

          It's their fantasy not ours. Especially since I know very well what I want (and don't want).

          As for Hongmen stuff. Every day there's another rumor. Yesterday someone mentioned a fork of Sailfish OS (Aurora OS).

          As for this stupid question: "...what a Huawei-modified version of Android would look like."

          It'll look like whatever "launcher" they want to use. Probably something like EMUI I guess. Thus it'll look the same as what they have now.

    2. Jon 37 Silver badge

      Re: Interesting...

      Google is "concerned" about what a Huawei-modified version of Android would look like, because it's worried that they will replace the Google-proprietary parts of Android and have a decent competitor to Android. The Huawei OS would rapidly become the standard in China, because the Chinese government would back it. Huawei would also be able to push it to become a credible 3rd contender (behind iOS and Android) in Europe and most non-US markets.

      That would cause Google to make less money, as people using Huawei's OS would be using non-Google search & advertising providers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Interesting...

        Google already has pretty much NO presence in Chinese Android phones. They all use AOSP and layer China native tools like Baidu, Wechat etc. in lieu of Google's and of course do not use the Play Store. Google lost China years ago.

        What Google is worried about is Huawei successfully selling non-Google Android phones OUTSIDE OF CHINA. If they can get them accepted in Europe, it would be a disaster for Google. Most likely you will see them trashing Hongmeng at every opportunity, because if it succeeds Google's Android model is in serious jeopardy outside the US. And maybe eventually inside the US, if Hongmeng becomes a standard non-Google Android version supported by other big companies like Samsung, instead of a Huawei only thing.

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Interesting...

      Probably they mean things like Play Protect and updates to Google-supplied apps. Presumably those services will be cut. Huawei could still get AOSP security updates, which include most of the fixes that anyone really cares about. Only time will tell if they release them on any consistent schedule, but even if they don't, their devices will probably be about as secure as the typical Android device in the wild anyway given the lax approach other manufacturers typically employ.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Interesting...

        Again, when this first broke, they said customers would not be affected, Google Play Protect and other Google services would continue to work on existing handsets.

  2. Blockchain commentard

    Home grown Linux, hybrid Android? It's AOSP the free version of Android which is normally a week or two behind official updates/bug fixes. Many other mobile manufacturers put 'skins' on Android to be a USP (none work well) which is what Hongmeng is likely to do. So this is just Google losing revenue for not getting a license fee from the 2nd biggest mobile seller. No wonder they're worried. Also having an alternative app store means even more revenue doesn't reach them.

    But let's be concerned with the public and their security, not Google's income for the year.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      I think Google is less worried about licence fees than about the licence conditions which essentially mandate the use of Google services on the phones and thus their ability to collect data from the users, unless we jump through all the hoops to opt out.

      But I also think that Google is being smart in playing the upright, patriotic corporate citizen while highlighting just how disruptive the US policy is to US companies. They're possibly also back-channeling that phones without GMS won't be able to provide data from non-US citizens (because spying on US citizens is illegal, but "aliens" are fair game) as easily to the NSA as the current arrangement does.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Given what "choice" I have as a UK end consumer ...

    I'd happily have Hongmeng on my device. Not because it's any better than Google - it might not be. But primarily because it isn't Google.

    In fact the more the US tries to demonise Huawei, the the greater the urge I have to use them.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Given what "choice" I have as a UK end consumer ...

      Many Huawei devices support Lineage OS. This OS is very good at security updates and will actually protect information. I would recommend using this whenever possible over some completely untested and potentially problematic AOSP release. Perhaps after it's been tested for a few years, but the phrases "version of Android/Linux developed over seven years and not run on any consumer devices" and "running on all of Huawei's consumer devices soon because they have no other choice" don't sound good to me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Given what "choice" I have as a UK end consumer ...

        Many Huawei devices support Lineag...

        Today (July 22, 2018) is the last day to request a bootloader unlock code for Huawei/Honor devices

        Which means unless the device is unlocked before that date or via unofficially means, Huawei devices can no longer install LineageOS.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Given what "choice" I have as a UK end consumer ...

          I did not know that. In that case, I'd be a lot more concerned about purchasing a Huawei device. If the goal is a not-Google build, I'd go with a device that does support Lineage from a different manufacturer.

          1. Bugsy11

            Re: Given what "choice" I have as a UK end consumer ...

            @doublayer. You won't get too many upvotes from the Red Army trolls for that comment. Check out how many upvotes any pro-China comments gets you on this forum. Lol.

  4. STOP_FORTH
    Linux

    Here at last!

    The year of Linux on the palmtop.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Here at last!

      Um, if I'm not mistaken, without Linux there would be no smartphone industry at all.

      So you're a bit late, but hey, nice of you to have arrived anyway.

      1. STOP_FORTH
        Angel

        Re: Here at last!

        I have been using many flavours of Linux at home and work for fifteen years, although I occasionally used it before that. Not to mention Xenix, Solaris and real time UNIXy operating systems.

        Crikey, I even remember using computers before MS was a thing, CP/M mostly.

        Although I first got my hands on an analogue computer (a proper flight simulator, with a cockpit) in about 1969.

        If I'm late, what did I miss? Turing's Bombes? Babbage's Engine? The Pascaline? Tidal predictors?

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Here at last!

          The point was that Linux has been running on mobile devices, as the kernel for Android, since 2009 or so. It hasn't really provided us, the users, with any of the benefits of Linux. There is no indication that that will change with Huawei's attempts, and a lot of the speculation seems to indicate that a lot of AOSP Android is still there. If those statements prove true, this will definitely not bring on any resurgence in the power of Linux or the openness of smartphone operating systems.

          1. STOP_FORTH
            Facepalm

            Re: Here at last!

            Well that would certainly explain why my Android 'phone and desktop behave differently from every other Linux/UNIX/BSD device I have ever touched.

            Thank you very much for the heads up.

            1. Joe W Silver badge

              Re: Here at last!

              GNU/Linux vs. Android/Linux

              The kernel is not the complete OS - that is, until systemd fixes that by pulling everything into a single program....

      2. Hyper72

        Re: Here at last!

        I was working for a company called Symbian long before Android. We made a smartphone OS, based off PSion EPOC32 - and licensed it to Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, Motorola, NTT-DOCMO, etc. It was in those days the term "smartphone" was coined in an attempt to expand the market for phones with bigger screens and lots of Internet connectivity.

        Then Apple obviously upended things in 2007 with the iPhone/iOS and at around the same time a company called Android had been established. Android made an OS that was meant to create clones of Blackberry phones. Google bought Android and spent a year updating it to the concept Apple had put forth. Any manufacturer not doing that lost market share very quickly.

        So saying "without Linux there would be no smartphone industry at all" is in fact completely wrong.

    2. Paul Kinsler Silver badge

      Re: The year of Linux on the palmtop.

      Hmm, I had a Zaurus running linux in 2004 or so ...

      ... and it's even still going! (not many software updates these days though...)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, duh

    Talk about inviting the inevitable..

    Orange 1 and friends still haven't worked out that you can only bully people without a way out. Instead, they have incentivised Huawei (et al) to aggressively develop alternatives so that they are less beholden to the US.

    They really could do with gun control there as there is a lot of aiming on feet here..

  6. Beau
    Happy

    Will someone please tell Huawei!

    If they would like to make that, one million and one people testing their new OS. All they have to do is send me a P10. with it installed. As I am perfectly prepared to test it in daily use for a few years, for them.

    However many back doors it might have, it can't possibly be worse than Android, filled with Google's spy wear.

    1. JimmyPage
      Happy

      Re: Will someone please tell Huawei!

      Make that 1,000,002 and I'll take one

      1. BigSLitleP

        Re: Will someone please tell Huawei!

        No, I'm Spartacus!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Will someone please tell Huawei!

          No, I'm Brian, and so is my wife.

    2. Captain Hogwash
      Coat

      Re: spy wear

      Tuxedo? Safari suit?

      1. seanf

        Re: spy wear

        Tuxedo c/w Aston Martin DB5 and Morland cigarettes

    3. CountCadaver Silver badge

      Re: Will someone please tell Huawei!

      Make it a P30 and I'm there :P

  7. matt 83

    "hybrid Android"

    Isn't one of Google defences to accusations of monopoly in the mobile OS market that "anyone can take, modify and user android as an open source project"...

    Doesn't taking the line that Huawei doing just this is a disaster kind of undermine that no monopoly argument?

    1. Beau
      Flame

      Re: "hybrid Android"

      'this is a disaster' WHO in hell said it's a disaster?

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: "hybrid Android"

        Google said that. They said it would introduce a bunch of security risks. To be honest, it might, but it does show that Google isn't really all that happy with people making alternate builds of Android, not that we needed more proof of that. I'd say the ban on someone using Google's services while using any non-Google build would be proof enough.

        1. JohnFen

          Re: "hybrid Android"

          "the ban on someone using Google's services while using any non-Google build would be proof enough."

          There is no such ban as far as I'm aware. Google's services aren't open source and can't be distributed with non-Google builds due to licensing issues, but you can download the packages and install them yourself on non-Google builds and they'll work just fine.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: "hybrid Android"

            There is such a ban on manufacturers. It's in the license agreement they need to sign before they can ship devices with the various Google Play components. In brief, it says "You can't sell devices running a version of Android without these components if you want to ship the components on other devices", or even more briefly, "Google Android [x]or AOSP Android. Choose and pay up.". Therefore, manufacturers have to choose whether they're going to try one of the third party versions of Android, but if they do, they cannot offer a Googlefied Android on any of their devices, and all users of their devices will have to install the Google components manually if they want them. That is difficult enough that most users won't know how, and the tools are needed for so many apps that a lot of users won't be happy with a non-Google Android. Therefore, Google effectively hampers manufacturer support for non-Google builds of Android.

            1. steelpillow Silver badge

              Re: "hybrid Android"

              I suppose that Huawei could write/sponsor a Google Services Installer app and upload it to Huawei Play or whatever they decide to call it.

              Mind you, I think I'd prefer a base Chromium browser rather than Google-hooked Chrome - or Baidu-hooked Huawome for that matter.

            2. JohnFen

              Re: "hybrid Android"

              "That is difficult enough that most users won't know how"

              It is exactly as difficult as installing any other Android application.

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                Re: "hybrid Android"

                Me: "That [installing Google Play Services and other Google apps on non-Google Android] is difficult enough that most users won't know how"

                Response: "It is exactly as difficult as installing any other Android application."

                I beg to differ. For example, if one wants the Google components on Lineage OS, one has to download the open-gapps suite containing the wanted components and flash that via ADB. On most devices, the Lineage OS wiki specifically includes a warning that this must be done prior to the initial boot or some of the components won't work. That's easy enough to do for people who read this site, but your standard user doesn't want to connect their phone to their computer, tap through scary warning screens on a bootloader and type terminal commands. Yes, some Google apps can be downloaded in apk form and side-loaded, but the number that work without Google Play Services available is relatively small.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: "hybrid Android"

      I hope the EU are taking down notes, because Google's giving them all the answers they need on a plate.

  8. DrBed

    WAIT.

    Google has said ... between the Trump administration ... a security risk to consumers ... reportedly "concerned" about what a Huawei-modified version of Android would look like... more at risk of being hacked ???

    1) Huawei phones are not at USA market anyway (never been officially afaik).

    2) Google is concerned about other OS of other company, at some other continent(s)? ROFL

    Almighty Google...

  9. hairydog

    I think I'd rather be spied on by the Chinese government than by dozens of American companies who are trying to sell me stuff I neither need nor even want. Google keeps tabs on everywhere you go. How can that be acceptable?

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      I agree I don't do anything on my phone that would likely to be of interest to the Chinese government But yet every internet search, video watched, music streamed, person contacted is currently sent off to Google for them to build a profile on me to try and push more ads.

  10. chubby_moth

    Obvious solution.

    This is an interesting development. It turns out that a bunch of aggressive white house employees can easily destroy your business by telling your proprietary software supplier to stop doing business with you. Well,.. that was possible before, but it was seen as not done option. I'm waiting for Trump loudly and publicly scratching his balls before shaking some presidents hands next time to get back at him.

    I think this should give another incentive to start using open source at all levels of their products. I think it would be a nice slogan for them. "Politics Agnostic Design"

  11. JaitcH
    FAIL

    Often Chinese Products Are Better Than US Crap, Anyway.

    Anyone using any US product is at risk under the idiot calling himself 'President' for if the US pull a Trump Entity List trick, a whole plethora of things would be stressed for supplies from aircraft on down.

    The Boeing MAX is what results from US 'engineering' in it's rush to get to market first. The horror stories emerging from the Boeing 'design' fiasco is beyond belief. How many Chinese designs get recalled?

    The good news is that the US has never successfully sanctioned any country be it VietNam, Iran or Russia. The system leaks, big time, and given China's technical talents and resources all that is likely to happen is that the USA loses business as China simply copies US products.

    I know of companies that send prospective products to China to have the designs optimised for the most efficient, economic production. That alone proves that China's talents exceed those of other countries.

    Living in VietNam doesn't make me a supporter of China - the Vietnamese generally despise them - but having some crook in America trying to tell me where and what to source materials from will not be honoured by myself and many others.

    Roll on 2020 and let's hope for change.

  12. fung0

    Ideology

    ...cited by China Daily – the English language ideology-emitting limb of China's Communist Party leaders...

    ...much like the BBC...

    (One gratuitous side-swipe deserves another.)

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