Danish Kapoor
Danish Kapoor

Chinese manufacturers are fleeing Android. The key is in the way you do it

Huawei opened the season with HarmonyOS, its emergency plan to continue operating independently of Google with Android as we know it. Xiaomi wanted to follow the path with HyperOS, its own software adaptation based on part of the Android code, but rewriting most of it.

Vivo has laid the last stone with BlueOS, an alternative developed entirely in Rust, 100% its own and without even compatibility with Android applications. Three interpretations that may seem similar, but that raise totally different concepts.

The three proposals raise an interesting debate about the need to start looking at alternatives to iOS and Android, as well as how realistic it is to opt for systems completely detached from what consumers already use.

Huawei’s plan. Things haven’t gone very well for Huawei with HarmonyOS and the reason has a name and surname: Google. After the ban in the United States, the Chinese company was forced to stop collaborating with Google, thus making the pre-installation of its services within EMUI no longer possible.

In a quick reaction, Huawei claimed to have an alternative system to Android on the table, but compatible with its applications. The reality is that HarmonyOS and EMUI are… practically the same, except for the name and some particularities in the code.

In Europe there is no paradise without Google, its services framework being necessary to use the most mainstream. The learning seems clear: even having its own application store, without the help of Google there is no possible victory for a software that aspires to be the majority.

Xiaomi follows in their footsteps, but with greater support. Xiaomi’s is, presumably and on paper, the best way to reinterpret Android. Part of its source code has been used to make this fork a system compatible with its applications, as well as to be able to update the latest phones with MIUI to HyperOS.

The company promises greater efficiency, performance, lower system weight, and a large load of its own code to support generative artificial intelligence models. Be that as it may, HyperOS will come from Google and, for average users (always the most important thing in all these matters), there will simply be an operating system update that will wash the face of what they already have.

There are no changes when using the apps, there are no limitations. Absolutely everything will remain the same and, in the promised scenario, they will have a cleaner, faster and more efficient ROM.

Xiaomi has the opportunity to make its great handicap its main virtue. Being that manufacturer that has modified Android to the extreme and, without sacrificing functionality, has managed to make it work even better. It remains to be seen how much is new in HyperOS in the analysis of the Xiaomi 14, but the bet points to ways.

Vivo’s risky plan. This is not the position of Vivo, who seems to want to put an end directly to Android by developing its own operating system programmed in Rust. At the moment, it seems that it will not have compatibility with Android applications, a move that may make some sense in China but, outside of its home territory, may be a shot in the foot.

The challenge of creating your own ecosystem. No manufacturer beyond Apple or Google has managed to create complete ecosystems. Not even Samsung, leader in mobile phone sales and one of the heavyweights in the rest of domestic industries, has dared to take such a step. It relies on its own software like Tizen for some of its devices (such as TVs), but even in peripherals it surrendered to WearOS over its own platform.

The commitment of manufacturers such as Xiaomi or Vivo seems ambitious, although they are quite different approaches from each other. What is clear is that Chinese manufacturers want to distance themselves from Android as we know it. Nobody knows how these plans will end.

Image | Xiaomi

Danish Kapoor