Huawei is being dishonest in marketing HarmonyOS 2.0 as a brand-new OS; beta reveals it to be an EMUI 11 rebrand based on Android 10
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Huawei describes HarmonyOS 2.0 in grand terms, declaring that it is 'a brand-new distributed operating system for all scenarios'. Indeed, the company has positioned HarmonyOS as an alternative to Android, with CEO Richard Yu unequivocally stating that the OS is 'completely different from Android and iOS'. An Ars Technica deep-dive suggests otherwise, though.
Instead, HarmonyOS 2.0 looks nothing more than a rebrand of EMUI 11, Huawei's custom version of Android 10 to which it is currently upgrading multiple devices worldwide. Not only does HarmonyOS 2.0 rely on EMUI 11's UI, but it depends on Android 10 and all its core components. Moreover, Huawei has simply renamed components 'HarmonyOS' in some cases, although it clearly has forgotten to do so with others.
Another giveaway that something is amiss is how finished HarmonyOS 2.0 looks. As the screenshots below show, HarmonyOS 2.0 contains no rough edges and features a populated app store. According to Ars Technica, even the Huawei AppGallery identifies HarmonyOS 2.0 as being an Android 10 system.
If you would like to try HarmonyOS 2.0, then you must submit a valid ID to Huawei, a drivers licence or a passport will do, along with a picture of the front of your bank card. Once you have done that, Huawei will run a two-day background check on you to determine if you are worthy of trying HarmonyOS 2.0 in a remote emulator. There are no such hoops with accessing the Android SDK, for reference.
Ultimately, we do not blame Huawei from re-using EMUI 11 in HarmonyOS 2.0. The company released EMUI in 2012, which it called Emotion UI until 2014, so it would seem pointless to bin nine years of software development for the sake of it. However, Huawei's current claims of HarmonyOS 2.0 being 'brand-new' are disingenuous at best.