Wang Chenglu, President of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group Software Engineering Department, recently gave an interview that expounded on the early development of HarmonyOS. In the interview, Wang revealed that the idea of developing an OS was first pitched to Huawei’s decision makers in 2012, but was only approved in 2016.

As for the purpose of this new OS, Wang explained, “Above all, HarmonyOS is an IoT-oriented OS. Its primary purpose is to empower various devices of different sizes,smart devices, such as TVs, speakers, and head units in cars, are all running different systems. It is difficult to connect them, let alone enable intelligent applications.”

When asked about Huawei’s intentions for HarmonyOS, Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s Consumer BG said, “Build an ecosystem that is open to developers and partners.”

HarmonyOS 1.0 made its debut in Huawei’s smart screen products, and was quickly expanded to include all kinds of lightweight household appliances such as smart lights, smart watches and smart kitchen gadgets from various manufacturers. Huawei is also building ties with developers around the world. All mobile operating systems rely on countless APIs, hosted in the cloud, that support various functions, as well as app distribution channels.

HMS Core, now on its 5th version, provides the APIs that support location services, push notifications, and analytics, among other functions. Huawei responded to the imminent loss of access to GMS by beefing up HMS Core. HMS Core initially offered a paltry 14 kits, but HMS Core 5.0 has 56 kits, and the number of APIs has surged from 885 to 12,981.

The number of developers registered with Huawei has reached 1.8 million worldwide. Today, more than 120,000 apps have integrated HMS Core APIs, and the number of active AppGallery users worldwide has reached 530 million. In 2020, AppGallery racked up 384.4 billion downloads. That is an increase of 174 billion compared to the previous year, and it makes AppGallery the world’s third largest mobile application ecosystem. Gaming makes a huge chunk of this expansion, with 500% more gaming apps on the platform now compared to a year ago.

In an effort to attract more developers, Huawei is also running its Shining Star program. This program has a budget of 1 billion USD, which it uses to incentivize developers to adapt their apps for HarmonyOS. For some developers, the real incentive to work with Huawei is not a cash grant from the Shining Star program, but AppGallery itself, and the established user base that it represents.

Behind these achievements are the efforts of R&D engineers participating in what is internally referred to as the “Songshan Lake Project”. According to Huawei’s Zhang Pingan, Huawei has gathered a large number of employees at its Songshan Lake Campus, split up into multiple development teams, working round the clock on various aspects of this project.

Through all the short-term crises, Huawei has remained focused on its long-term goal of creating an operating system for the Internet of Things.