Chinese telecom giant Huawei introduced the latest version of its HarmonyOS, a system for various smart devices, on Wednesday. The new HarmonyOS 3 system supports 12 different device types as the firm ambitiously looks to build its own closed-off ecosystem like Apple’s.

Why it matters: HarmonyOS, a Huawei-developed system originating from open-source projects, has amassed 300 million users since its launch in 2019. The third generation comes with more powerful features that connect different devices with one system while adding new local services such as a ride-hailing app.

Details: A key highlight of Huawei’s new operating system is a significant update of its cross-device integration feature called “Super Terminal.” HarmonyOS 3 is already open for public testing and will see a full rollout in September.

  • First introduced in 2021, the Super Terminal feature is an integrated connection feature similar to a combination of Apple’s AirPlay, AirDrop, and HandsOff. It can connect a range of devices that run on HarmonyOS.
  • Whereas HarmonyOS 2.0’s Super Terminal could only connect phones, tablets, PCs, audio devices, watches, and monitors, the new version supports 12 types of devices, with new additions including electric vehicles, smart glasses, printers, TVs, and E-ink readers.
  • The feature allows connected devices can share information and send files to each other. For example, users can work on tablets and connect monitors and earbuds for a PC-like experience with a “pull,” a gesture to trigger a new connection with other devices. For drivers, the new HarmonyOS 3 adds support to connect phones and consoles in vehicles and the ability to use phone apps in cars.
  • Huawei has also updated its transmission technology, reducing the latency to 1 millisecond between devices and claiming 20% better performance in highly interferential scenarios. The new update also claims to be 50% faster when establishing a new connection.
  • The new Harmony operating system also incorporates more control of connected devices playing music or videos. For example, users can remotely control the playback and volume of TVs and stereos and can also share music with extra pairs of earbuds.

Context: In April, Huawei changed the name of its Consumer Business unit to Terminal Business, aiming to expand its focus from customer-facing business to enterprise and government businesses. The new HarmonyOS, along with new devices built with it, is part of this push to better serve customers with a variety of Huawei devices.

  • Huawei’s consumer business saw a notable fall of 49.6% year-on-year to RMB 243.4 billion ($36 billion) in 2021, accounting for 38.2% of its total revenues. However, its enterprise business increased by 2.1% to RMB 102.4 billion, according to its financial report.

Ward Zhou is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. He covers stories about industry of digital content, hardware, and anything geek. Reach him via ward.zhou[a] or Twitter @zhounanyu.