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Huawei is working on its own mobile OS in case things sour with Google

Huawei, the world’s third largest smartphone manufacturer, is reportedly developing its own mobile OS. Phones made by the Chinese manufacturer currently run on the company’s Android skin, EMUI, but according to a report from The Information Huawei is building an alternative OS in case its relationship with Google sours.

Huawei’s homegrown mobile os “isn’t far along”

The company reportedly has a team working on the mobile OS in Scandinavia, with the engineers including ex-Nokia employees. But although Huawei isn’t the only Android phone maker exploring alternatives (Samsung has its own Linux-based Tizen OS, although that’s mainly been deployed in IoT devices so far), sources speaking to The Information says the company’s operating system “isn’t far along.”

More imminent changes, though, are happening to EMUI, which has frequently been knocked by Western phone reviewers for poor design and copying iOS. Last October, Huawei hired former Apple designer Abigail Brody to oversee an overhaul of its Android skin, with the company set to unveil the new revamped software this September.

According to The Information, changes could include the addition of an app drawer, redesigned icons (they’re all currently iPhone-like rounded squares), and a new, “very clean, fresh” color palette. EMUI’s current color scheme focuses on unusually dingy and muted colors — grays and browns. Brody is reportedly planning to change these for brighter tones including blues and whites, and is looking to animals like jellyfish for inspiration.

Huawei wants to go global, but its design expertise isn’t respected in the west

Huawei has ambitions to become a global electronics brand, but at the moment it sells nearly all of its handsets in China. The company has yet to secure a deal with a major US carrier (it sells its smartphones unlocked online), and its products lack credibility in the West — which is at least in part due to its unoriginal software.

Brody, says The Information, acknowledges these difficulties and told the publication she wants to overcome the company’s “pain points” and “glaring cosmetic issues.” She was also quoted by the publication as saying that one day Huawei could become “the world’s No. 1, the most advanced and favorite ‘lifestyle-centric’ ecosystem, and without having to copy Apple at all, ever!”


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