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Huawei's OS is apparently codenamed Project Z, and it's reportedly far from ready

HUAWEI has a backup OS in case it's cut off from Android, but that OS is believed to be nowhere near finished.

Published onMay 22, 2019

huawei p30 pro vs huawei mate 20 pro side by side displays

We know Huawei has been working on its own mobile operating system in the event that it’s someday cut off from Android. Thanks to The Information (paywall), we now have a few more details as to what it actually entails.

The OS project is apparently known internally as “Project Z.” According to one source, HUAWEI has been building its own OS for several years, with development beginning soon after a U.S. investigation of Chinese phone maker ZTE in 2012.

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The HUAWEI HiSilicon Kirin 980 chipset.

HUAWEI Executive Director and CEO of the Consumer Business Group Richard Yu previously said HUAWEI would be prepared to launch its own OS should it lose access to Android. According to The Information’s sources, however, Project Z isn’t in a position to be rolled out.

The OS “remains far from ready” the outlet reportedciting people familiar with the matter, though the company is believed to be speeding up its development in light of the recent restrictions placed on HUAWEI.

Yu himself didn’t seem very optimistic about the platform’s prospects either. The current U.S. sanctions mean HUAWEI may be “forced” to launch the operating system, said Yu. HUAWEI could be in for “really a very tough time,” he said.

HUAWEI consumer business group CEO Richard Yu on a red chair.
Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority
HUAWEI Consumer Business Group CEO Richard Yu.

What else do we know?

This is the first time the Project Z name has come up, though we’ve heard previous rumors about HUAWEI’s OS plans. It was said to be a backup, but The Information’s source suggests it will launch in the domestic market — powering HUAWEI phones, wearables, and appliances — as China makes the transition to 5G networks.

That’s only speculation, but if HUAWEI did plan to install the system on its Chinese phones regardless of the U.S.-HUAWEI situation, it may be closer to fruition than we thought.

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An Android alternative would stand a chance at survival in China where many of Google’s services are blocked; smartphone owners there aren’t already reliant on Google software and services. The operating system would be unlikely to succeed in Western markets, though — something the publication’s sources also suggested.

This means HUAWEI has to hope for some kind of agreement to be reached to keep Android on its smartphones sold in Western markets. Currently, it is able to support those phones for another three months or so before its Android license is revoked. After that period, HUAWEI would still be able to develop for Android, but only via the Android Open Source Project — severely limiting what the company offers.

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