SINGAPORE: Bad news for Huawei mobile phone users: the company announced that it will no longer support Android apps when it rolls out the next version of its Harmony operating system.

A developer version of HarmonyOS Next platform is planned for release in the second quarter of this year, a Jan 19 (Friday) Reuters report says. And by the fourth quarter, a full commercial version is scheduled for distribution.

The move was made in a bid for Huawei to promote its own software ecosystem, Reuters added, quoting China’s domestic financial media Caixin.

Harmony was first introduced by Huawei in 2019. The company had intended to launch it on a number of mobile phones the following year after restrictions imposed by the United States meant it no longer had Google’s technical support on its Android mobile OS.

However, the early versions of Harmony still allowed apps that had been developed for Android to work on its system. That will no longer be possible when the HarmonyOS Next platform is launched later this year.

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The US began blacklisting Huawei in April 2019, claiming that the company was connected to global espionage. Huawei was investigated for possible violations of US sanctions against Iran.

The US said that the government of China used Huawei’s technology for spying and was, therefore, a threat to national security in the US.

Then-US President Donald Trump’s blacklist announcement meant that the company would no longer be able to avail of both hardware and software from the US necessary for assembling Huawei products.

A number of tech giants, including Microsoft and Google, subsequently broke ties with Huawei.

In December 2018, Meng Wanzhou, the company’s Chief Finance Officer, was arrested in Vancouver, Canada. Ms Meng is also deputy chair of the company and the daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei.

In Canada, the Chinese embassy asked for Meng’s release, saying, “The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the US and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Ms Meng Wanzhou.”

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As for the company, Huawei said it is “not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms Meng.”

More recently, the company launched a bid to return to the high-end smartphone market after years of sanctions from the US, introducing its Mate 60 series of smartphones, whose chipsets are believed to have been developed in China.

Huawei expects a 9 per cent year-on-year growth for 2023, with revenues predicted to be above 700 billion yuan (S$132 billion). /TISG

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