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Huawei aims at software independence with HarmonyOS: Key things to know

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Huawei on Friday launched homegrown ‘Harmony OS’ aka ‘Hongmeng OS’ in a bid to reduce dependence on Google for mobile operating system. The new software comes shortly after the Chinese telecom giant narrowly escaped from losing access to Google’s Android owing to US-China trade tensions. Huawei said ‘Harmony OS’ is now ready for commercial launch and can abandon Google anytime it wants to.

At the company’s developer conference in China, Huawei’s consumer business head Richard Yu said HarmonyOS is different from Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS operating systems. The company said HarmonyOS will be available for a wider range of hardware platforms including phones, PCs, and eventually on wearables and head units of car.

According to tracking platform statcounter, Google’s Android holds about 76.08% of mobile OS market share whereas Apple’s iOS has 22.01%. KaiOS is at a distant third with 0.81% share.

Open-source
Open-source is one of the primary reasons why Google’s Android is so popular among the developers and OEMs. Huawei will borrow Google’s open-source focus with HarmonyOS. The company plans to setup an open-source foundation and community to help developers build apps for the new platform. Huawei said it will also share core capabilities of the software in areas such as cameras, connectivity, cameras, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Huawei’s operating system supports apps from all major platforms including Linux, HTML 5, and Android.

Cross-platform
Huawei’s HarmonyOS aka Hongmeng OS is based on a distributed architecture and virtual bus technology. This will allow developers to build across platforms without needing to deal with the complex technology under-the-hood. Huawei claims Harmony OS apps can seamlessly work on different devices while delivering a collaborating experience.

Security
HarmonyOS has a new microkernel design that is said to deliver better security and lower latency. “

This microkernel was designed to simplify kernel functions, implement as many system services as possible in user mode outside the kernel, and add mutual security protection. The microkernel itself provides only the most basic services like thread scheduling and IPC,” said Huawei in a release.

“HarmonyOS is the first OS to use formal verification in device TEE, significantly improving security. In addition, because the HarmonyOS microkernel has much less code (roughly one-thousandth the amount of the Linux kernel), the probability of attack is greatly reduced,” it added.

First wave of devices
Huawei’s first wave of homegrown OS will come to ‘smart screen products’ which are scheduled to roll out later this year. The first iteration, Harmony OS 1.0, will soon be available for a broader range of products such as wearables, Huawei Vision, and even cars.

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New Apple Watch ceramic, titanium models leaked, set to launch alongside iPhone 11

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Apple iPhone 11 launch is just a few days away and leaks and rumours are in full swing. While the smartphones are certainly going to hog the limelight, Apple may also introduce some other products. Ahead of Apple’s rumoured September 10 event, new details about the new Apple Watch models have emerged online.

Brazilian website iHelp.br said it has discovered references to new Apple Watch in the latest watchOS 6 beta. The website says Apple’s next smartwatch will come with premium titanium and ceramic casings. The revamped Apple Watch will be available in 40mm and 44mm sizes same as Apple’s Watch Series 4.

It is worth noting that Apple used to offer ceramic casings for Series 2 and Series 3 watches but it skipped the material with Watch Series 4. The ceramic models came with premium price tags and just two black and white colour options. As far as titanium goes, this will be the first time Apple will be using the material for Apple Watch. The look and feel of titanium version of Apple Watch is said to be similar to the company’s Apple Card.

The new design could come with Apple’s Watch Series 5 but some reports also suggest the new models could be part of the company’s existing Watch Series 4 lineup.

Apple introduced Watch Series 4 in September last year. The smartwatch comes with improved design as it delivers larger screen without increasing thickness. The digital crown now supports haptic feedback on apps like podcasts and calendar while speaker is now up to 50% louder than the older generation. Some of the key highlight of Apple Watch Series 4 includes ECG support, dual-core S4 processor, and GPS. Apple Watch Series 4 is available in India at a starting price of Rs 40,900.

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WhatsApp now tells users when a message has been forwarded many times

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WhatsApp has begun rolling ‘frequently forwarded’ feature for its users in India. As the name implies, the label helps users spot a message that has been forwarded multiple times on the platform. Such forwarded messages will come with a special double arrow icon. Users will also receive a notification when they’re sending these frequently forwarded messages to others.

The ‘frequently forwarded’ feature has been under testing for quite some time. The new label appears when a message has been forwarded for more than five times. WhatsApp says the number of times a message has been forwarded is end-to-end encrypted.

WhatsApp is also now going to truncate long text messages such as chain messages. Users, however, will have the option to tap to see the full message. The company hopes the new features will help make the experience better on the platform, especially in group chats.

“We’ve recently introduced an update to our forwarded message label that helps people identify when they’ve received messages that were previously forwarded several times, such as a chain message. These highly forwarded messages will be marked with a double arrow icon and users will receive a notice when they are forwarding such a message,” said WhatsApp spokesperson.

The latest feature is in addition to WhatsApp’s ‘forwarded’ label for messages which was introduced last year. Available to users worldwide, the label appears above every forwarded message. WhatsApp has also limited the ability to forward a message to a maximum of five chats.

WhatsApp’s new features are aimed at combating fake news and spread of misinformation through its platform. Over last few months, WhatsApp has launched in-app features and run awareness campaigns.

WhatsApp is currently gearing up to launch its payment service, WhatsApp Pay, in India. WhatsApp Global Head Will Cathcart said that the company was aiming to roll-out the service by the end of this year. “To boost digital inclusion in India, we can launch the (Pay) service across the country later this year after meeting regulations,” he said.

WhatsApp has 400 million active users in India

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TikTok parent Bytedance confirms it’s developing a smartphone

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Chinese social media firm ByteDance Ltd said on Monday it is developing a smartphone, following a deal it made with device maker Smartisan Technology. The plans come as the tech firm expands into new sectors beyond video and news apps.

In a statement, a ByteDance spokeswoman said a smartphone had been part of Smartisan’s development plans before the deal it made with ByteDance.

“The product was a continuation of earlier Smartisan plans, aiming to satisfy the needs of the old Smartisan user base,” the spokeswoman added.

On Monday a sub-division of Chinese financial news outlet Caijing reported that the phone had been in development for seven months. The effort is being led by Wu Dezhou, a former executive at Smartisan, the outlet added.

Earlier this year ByteDance acquired a set of patents from Smartisan. Some Smartisan employees also transferred to ByteDance, as part of what the latter company called a “normal flow of talent.”

Smartisan is a niche player in China’s smartphone sector and is best known for its flamboyant founder Luo Yonghao.

ByteDance has risen to become a leading player in tech, rivaling the likes of Baidu Inc and Tencent Holdings Ltd in influence.

Douyin, the company’s app for streaming short videos, has more than 300 million monthly users in China, ByteDance marketing manager Zhi Ying said in June. TikTok, Douyin’s global-facing counterpart, has also grown popular in North America.

ByteDance has recently begun investing in sectors not directly related to social media. The company has hired several staff from London-based startup JukeDeck, which specializes in AI-generated music, Reuters reported in July.

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