Huawei's Watch GT snubs Google for homegrown OS

Behold, a new Chinese platform?

Google's decision to shove Java everywhere it can may be as catastrophic as Microsoft's "Windows everywhere" from the 1990s.

Huawei unveiled a smartwatch today. This isn't really news, but Huawei making a smartwatch based on its own open-source embedded OS very much is.

The new Huawei Watch GT uses the open-source LiteOS with a tiny 10KB microkernel announced in May 2015. While Google's Android-based WearOS, for smartwatches and other wearables, runs apps written in Java, LiteOS is much more lightweight: it runs JavaScript, and executes native code right off the metal.

"LiteOS can be simultaneously activated (across all devices) in about 700ms, it consumes little power and only needs micro amperage," said president of Huawei's Honor brand George Zhou in December of that year.

LiteOS had made its way into Huawei's own IoT kit, but this is the first time it has appeared in such a sophisticated consumer product.

Huawei HQ

Huawei announces tiny 10 KB IoT kernel


Huawei's calculation is that the loss of an app ecosystem is worth the competitive advantage it will gain from dumping Google's Java-cosy OS, Android, for something with much longer battery life that's much more responsive. Although WearOS is a cut-down Android, it isn't cut down by much, and still has many of the disadvantages.

The dual-chip GT has a two-week battery life on average. A very low-power chip allows it to receive messages and calls for 30 days. This chip, Huawei said, uses around a sixth of the power draw of a conventional application processor. If you wish to use high-energy applications such as GPS and continuous activity tracking, the high-power chip kicks in and the battery life is shortened. It automatically turns this on and off as needed.

It's a monster in real life, in two styles: sports and classic. Both look like a normal watch with two conventional crowns and a ceramic bezel. The screen is of "diamond-like carbon" – something we'll investigate when we can. But there's also a six-LED sensor underneath providing, among other things, continuous heart monitoring. It's aimed at "urban explorers".

The OS looks like a straight rip of Google's WearOS: quick settings flick down from the top, and the app list is a circular dial, identical to Google's OS.

Apps just haven't happened on smartwatches – the category is only enjoying a modest rivalry as fitness specialists like Garmin and Fitbit have focused on the market. To compete in this category, Huawei clearly decided it could dispense with Google's wares.

But doesn't this mean it's far short of being an open, developer-friendly platform? Watch this space. "We're looking at how we extend that with other activity-tracking apps," said Huawei. ®

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022