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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

Huawei currently bases HarmonyOS 2.0 on Android 10, according to Ars Technica. (Image source: Apps APK)
Huawei currently bases HarmonyOS 2.0 on Android 10, according to Ars Technica. (Image source: Apps APK)
Huawei may brag that HarmonyOS 2.0 is a 'brand-new distributed operating system', but Ars Technica has discovered that the company is telling porkies. Instead, HarmonyOS 2.0 is nothing more than a renamed EMUI 11, and one that Harmony requires a passport or a driving licence to try out.
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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.

(Image source: Ars Technica)
(Image source: Ars Technica)
(Image source: Ars Technica)
(Image source: Ars Technica)
(Image source: Ars Technica)
(Image source: Ars Technica)

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Alex Alderson
Alex Alderson - Senior Staff Writer - 3438 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2018
Prior to writing and translating for Notebookcheck, I worked for various companies including Apple and Neowin. I have a BA in International History and Politics from the University of Leeds, which I have since converted to a Law Degree. Happy to chat on Twitter or Notebookchat.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 02 > 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
Alex Alderson, 2021-02- 3 (Update: 2021-02- 3)