Huawei’s Android rival is incoming and will be compatible with Play Store apps

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We’re still watching how the Trump administration’s Huawei ban in the US plays out, especially after Google revoked the company’s access to Android and the Google Play Store

Yes, the US Commerce Department eased that ban temporarily to allow Google to play ball, but Huawei isn’t taking this sitting down: the Chinese tech giant is developing its own alternative to the Android operating system, and it might be ready as early as ‘fall’ of this year, according to the CEO.

Best of all for Huawei fans: it will still be compatible with all Android and web apps.

Per a report from the Chinese publication Caijing, Huawei’s CEO of Consumer Business Yu CHengdong stated it will be available in fall (from October 2019) or, at latest, by spring of next year (second-quarter 2020). 

The operating system won’t just be for phones, either: according to the report, it’s “open to mobile phones, computers, tablets, TVs, cars and smart wearable devices.” 

Future-proofing, no matter what

We’re far from sure how this business will all shake out, especially since China hasn’t itself taken action on behalf of Huawei in any effort to get this ban lifted. 

But it’s undoubtedly smart for Huawei to save itself from getting locked out of the world’s largest mobile OS ecosystem. And if it can be used across the company’s device ecosystem, so much the better, since it will all be affected by the US ban. 

The key question is how the apps will be able to work on the OS - just because they're compatible, doesn't mean Huawei will be able to bring the full suite to its phones... there will probably be a lot of manual side-loading, which will be an effort for consumers.

And the key thing missing will very likely be Google's suite of mobile apps - there's little chance that Maps, Mail, YouTube and the native search will be available, and Huawei will have to work hard to allow the ported apps to work seamlessly with its new system.

In computing, Microsoft has kept suspiciously quiet about whether it will block WIndows 10 updates on Huawei laptops like the acclaimed MateBook 14.

Whether Huawei can actually release this pan-device operating system as early as later this year, well, that claim is suspect, unless they’ve been working on it for some time. 

Even if it does, we seriously doubt whether it will be as polished or feature-rich as Android; the only OS-esque software we’ve seen from them, the mobile overlay EMUI, has been a mixed bag of features and design.

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.