back to article Huawei names first tablets, phones to run its Android-in-disguise HarmonyOS 2

Huawei on Wednesday introduced its first tablets and smartphones running its HarmonyOS 2 software – and said 100 or so other devices will be able to upgrade to the totally-not-but-really-is-Android OS. The Chinese tech kit titan selected the MatePad Pro as its flagship launch device for the operating system. This 12.6-inch …

  1. Nifty Silver badge

    Does it make sense that the US continues to embargo its companies working with Huawei for handheld devices? Network infrastructure related kit one can understand. But all Chinese handset manufacturers are equally as linked to the Chinese state. The US's attitude does not seem to be consistent.

    1. _LC_

      Huawei is owned by its workers

      Huawei is owned by its workers. This seems to be like a red rag to a bull in certain circles. ;-)

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Huawei is owned by its workers

        First, that's not what those who distrust Huawei cite as their reason. Second, Huawei isn't owned by its workers in any sense. The closest you can get is that it might be directed by them, but from the methods used, this isn't really true either. Workers get the right to vote in an election which eventually gets to select people who eventually get to select the directors for the company, which looks promising, but their candidates are named by the existing leadership and not by the workers. Therefore, the leadership can prevent any disagreement by restricting available candidates. The actual ownership of the company is held by a holding company and its founder, and the holding company in turn is owned by a group supposedly representing a trade union, but a trade union of the type administered by the government. Some have argued that this makes Huawei owned by the Chinese government, and legally it's sort of true, but I don't think that makes them any more beholden to the CCP than they would be anyway merely by the CCP having a bunch of power.

        I agree with the original poster, but your stated reason is not at all the reason that Huawei has detractors.

        1. _LC_

          Re: Huawei is owned by its workers

          > "Second, Huawei isn't owned by its workers in any sense."

          Yes, they have started spreading lies about that as well, I see. Here's for you interested in the truth:

          "Huawei was founded in 1987, and I joined in Huawei in 1989. Back then banks were reluctant to lend money to small start-up companies. Huawei had to raise capital by selling shares to employees, an arrangement that continues to this day.

          Employees buy shares with their own money, and receive annual dividends based on the number of shares they hold.

          They also elect members to form a Representatives' Commission on a one-vote-per-share basis. The Commission elects the company's Board of Directors. Such a profit- and risk-sharing system provides Huawei with the funds it needs for long-term growth and lays the foundations for its governance and management.


          Currently, Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei holds about 1% stake of Huawei; the rest is held by Huawei’s union, the platform through which employees own the company."

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Huawei is owned by its workers

            Nothing you said contradicts anything I said or read. I'll admit I don't work at Huawei, but here's what I read about the situation, and why it means that the workers don't own the company.

            "Employees buy shares with their own money, and receive annual dividends based on the number of shares they hold."

            If what I've read is correct, this does not mean what it looks like it means. In a normal company, you buy shares with your own money, they may pay you dividends, and you get to keep them and sell them. In Huawei's case, you buy shares, they pay you dividends, but A) they can't be sold and B) you forfeit them on leaving the company. You don't own that. It's a method of moving money around and functions a lot more like a bond or even a vested bonus than a normal stock share. As such, you have no legal ownership, because your shares don't entitle you to anything other than what Huawei itself has promised.

            "They also elect members to form a Representatives' Commission on a one-vote-per-share basis. The Commission elects the company's Board of Directors."

            Yes, I already said that. Again, if the internet is to be believed, the elections occur with candidates selected by the company, giving them the ability to remove any choice by giving you a limited pool of candidates.

            "the rest is held by Huawei’s union, the platform through which employees own the company."

            Right, as I've mentioned, that's not an employee-controlled union. It is a government-controlled union. I've already discussed what that means and that it's not a major concern above, but it doesn't mean you own anything.

  2. _LC_


    Remember that they had to pull this one out of their nose quickly and it HAD to be compatible to Android. Although they are starting out on Google's tracks, the journey may (hopefully) be going somewhere else entirely.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Forked it

      I hope they don't try and copy Google's direction with Android, because Google's direction is to steadily turn it into a little crippled applet OS for Chrome that happens to also run on phones.

      There's a *LOT* they could do to Android t make it better. The tablet experience is a joke, the memory management a joke, the lack of app persistence is a joke. It's a joke, the way the OS does less and less with each iteration, the way it limits apps to 128MB or 512MB, and will unload apps currently in use when you flip away from them to save RAM on an 8GB device. It's a joke, but I've long stopped finding it funny.

      I'm happy with the hardware China kicks out now, they've moved up to the middle ground now, making tablets to compete with Samsung. (I use a lot of Chumi Hi-Pad Plus' with a brilliant big screen 4:3 aspect ratio, cheap, solid.... Alldocube iPlay40's very fast, very well made,... middle to top market tablets sold at budget prices) but Android I am not happy with. It is shit.

      So I hope they actually recognize what they have with a fork of Android and start removing all these limits.

      Remove all the memory limits, the crippled Broadcast Intents, the crippled permissions, the piss poor app lifecycle that has programmers writing code as if at any time, the OS can decide to unload them. Do a proper treatment of tablets, not a WIMP like Samsung or a giant phone like Google.

      If there's a chance to tear the market away from Google, then that chance is now, when Google think the only problem it has is "interface isn't pastel enough".

      Fork it, like you own it.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: Forked it

        I agree with all your sentiments. Problem is, all that matters to most users is the availability of Apps. Without the Play store, you've no chance.

        1. teknopaul

          Re: Forked it

          If app developers don't support the _only_ competition, they are paying thier cards with Google wrong, no matter how many app they sell via Huawei.

        2. teknopaul

          Re: Forked it

          If you give consumers control of the hardware they buy, they are not tied to the play store. Including its rules. If you got the same apps but better versions on Huawei store consumers and developers would have a real advantage.

          You'd have better apps off Play.

          I recently installed fdroid, it's ace. They tell you if an app is full of tracking crap and or hidden costs or "features" you probably don't want.

          Google promote that shit. What ever the say, 'contains ads' does not indicate the level of popups abuse and crippleware annoyances an app contains. If I can't be bothered to filter out crap apps full of adds I use fdroid.

          Plenty of space for Huawei to do better than Google.

        3. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Forked it

          That is debatable. Right now, if you only make your application compatible with Google App Services, then yes, you're stuffed when it comes to trying to get it to run on Huawei (I should know, we have this problem) but if you make sure your stuff runs on either, you're fine.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Forked it

          Not forgetting all the sloppy coding as well.

  3. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Really HarmonyOS is just another flavour of De-Googled Android like ASOP or projects such as Lineage and /e/os. Although these other projects are offering newer Android versions than HarmonyOS and use MicroG to replace the proprietary Google apps and services so are probably more useful outside of China.

    1. ortunk

      I have the AppGallery as well as PlayStore on mine (as it was a before sanctions model) , before used F-Droid and Uptodown on special firmware to mange apps on other phones, now checking AppGallery but foe me it comes down to Google Maps.

      Unfortunately where I am no other map software is accurate enough, and locals have a way of not being able to explain addresses even in their own language.

      1. _LC_


        OSMand (offline maps) isn't accurate, really?


        and MagicEarth

        these two (MagicEarth and OSMAnd) are my favourite maps and navigation apps on LineageOS. Google? NEVER!

  4. Anonymous Coward


    Is this how ElReg is going to describe forked software going forward. If so, it makes sense. If it's only Huawei then it makes ElReg sound like it's parroting the US government and it makes the rest of the interesting article less credible.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: "totally-not-but-really-is"

      Well, as Huawei has claimed to create a very new mobile OS, but the linked technical review has identified basically no differences apart from changing names, it's not really as slanted as you make it out to be. If I fork something but don't change it, then it's effectively the same as what it used to be. Only once I've changed the functionality does it become different. For instance, when Amazon forked Elastic, they made a thing which is just like Elastic just with the original license, so I would view a statement that it is effectively the same as correct. If Huawei eventually does make a new mobile OS, even retaining some of Android's components, then such a statement would be unfair. They have not done that yet.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They could have gone replicant!

    If only Huawei had fully embraced freedom (For at least long enough to grab a large market share): <- a distribution of Android that is 100% Free Software. Since it does not use any non-free drivers, it currently works on a limited number of devices.

    or even: <- a version of Android which you can use without a Google account. Even though it is usually more free than the software your device comes with, freedom is not its main objective. While LineageOS works on most Android devices, it makes use of non-free device drivers and firmware which are fetched from a device and included in the ROM.

    Either would have shifted a lot of phones, but at the cost of no spyware, which is why the Chinese government would have blocked it, just like the US government would FISA Google if ever decided to implement "Don't be evil" (The old phrase that was in Google's corporate code of conduct and their old corporate motto, before they decided to drop the fake pretence and be honest).

    1. _LC_

      Re: They could have gone replicant!

      That is not possible due to patents. Such a phone wouldn't be able to use your local services. :-(

      > " <- a distribution of Android that is 100% Free Software. Since it does not use any non-free drivers, it currently works on a limited number of devices. ..."

      The most important (and root vulnerable) part is not open at all - the driver BLOBs (binary large objects). They reside on a dedicated partition and - often enough - receive automated updates without your interference. Trust me, it's a shit-show.

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