Last month, US president Trump revealed the blacklisted Chinese firms that are not allowed to do business in American territory. The reason for the ban was arguably the trade war between the industrial nations. Huawei was, unfortunately, present in the list, it should be noted that Huawei phones were already banned for sale in the United States due to “security” reasons. As a result of the ban, many US companies, including Google, ARM, and Qualcomm, stopped doing business with the Chinese tech giant.
We reported that Google was the first firm to announce that Huawei’s phones will stop getting further Android updates. Later it was announced that only the upcoming Huawei phones would be the ones affected as those that are in the market already will keep getting the required security and services updates. Huawei did not release a word at the situation at the start. The company took to media later and announced that they are working on an alternate OS to replace Android OS. The HongMeng OS will be able to run Android apps and will have a custom market place for the apps. Huawei further announced that the OS is at its final stages and will be available soon.
Now, the sources from The Bell report that Huawei’s CEO Guo Ping had a meeting with Konstantin Noskov, minister of communications, digital development, and mass media of Russia. He discussed the possibility of using Aurora OS, the Russain build of Finnese Sailfish OS on Huawei devices. Sources also point that Huawei has already started testing the Aurora OS on its devices. They also discussed on partially moving Huawei’s production facility to Russia. The production facilities will work on chips and devices development. It is also worth noting that Huawei is sponsoring the 5G services in Russia through Rostelcomm. Another remarkable acquaintance is Grigory Berezkin, who is a Rostelcomm business and an owner of the developers behind the Aurora OS.
All this does seem to confirm that Huawei may use the OS in their devices supposedly to buy some time for its own OS. It might not help in developing the HongMeng OS but Huawei needs a cushion time.
Sailfish OS is a Linux based distribution that was developed by developers of Nokia’s late MeeGo OS. It comes pre-installed in only four devices released by the parent company called Jolla. It can also be installed on Sony XA series. Until the availability of in Sony’s devices, the Sailfish OS was plagued by inferior hardware. The XA series too isn’t powerful enough to compete with the high-end Android or iOS flagship devices, but the hardware is capable enough to test the OS in its full swing.
Like the base Android, Sailfish OS is also open source ; anyone can play around with it. Its most compelling feature is Android app compatibility. You can run almost any Android app on the OS, services like Aptoide are already available on the OS. If you want to use the Google Play services, there’s a ‘way‘ to install the PlayStore as well. The main attraction of the OS is privacy. Jolla only collects the information it needs to improve the OS, that too only if the user allows it to collect data.
Is Sailfish OS worth it?
Coming to our problem at hand. Is Huawei’s move to shift on an already developed operating system worth it? Sailfish OS has its own challenges and advantages.
The fact that Jolla is able to run the OS on devices with inferior hardware smoothly is fascinating and shows that the OS is very lightweight. It has a gesture-based navigation system which is vastly superior to what Android offers. It may seem wrong, but the OS had gesture-based UI since it was launched years ago. They have refined it in such a way that even a novice with little knowledge can get around with the UI. Multitasking is another feature the OS managed to develop despite inferior hardware. It is regarded as the only smartphone OS with true multitasking capabilities. The apps do not suspend at the background rather they keep working as they should. Although Huawei might tweak that for better battery life.
The users who have extensively used the OS regard it as a battery killer. Many even went to say, “try finding a battery that does not void the warranty before installing Sailfish.” Battery optimization has been a problem of the OS since its arrival. The leading cause of it is ‘true multitasking’ which Jolla cannot lose as it is one of the main features of the OS. Another major problem with the OS is the lack of third-party apps. Android apps are compatible, but the apps regarding security, payments, and services don’t work this way, they require native compatibility. That is why many users claim that the OS is not suitable for today’s online systems.
The use of Sailfish OS may turn out to be a life-saving strategy for Huawei if and only if they manage to tackle the disadvantages of the OS actively. Developing a native payment app could be the starting point. Battery optimization is another thing to worry about.
It might give Huawei some time to develop their own OS. It is indeed a risky bet, due to the fact the OS is not widely popular. We’ll have to wait and see how well Huawei integrates sailfish OS (if they end up doing so).