Updated: Google and Huawei set divergent paths for Android

27 Jun 2016

Android is in for an interesting end to 2016 amid rumours of a surprise new Google phone, as well as Huawei’s rumoured plans to build its own OS.

Google’s Ara modular phone is expected next year, marking the company’s first independent foray into phone manufacturing. It looks interesting and, in theory, will compete with the iPhone on the premium end of the market.

Now, a surprise story in The Telegraph hints at a Google device being revealed later this year, meaning a mid-range smartphone could be a precursor to the Ara roll-out.

Future Human

According to the report, the 2016 release will see Google “take more control over design, manufacturing and software”.

Meanwhile, this news comes amid rumours of Huawei’s own plans to move away from Android.

Given that it’s the most dominant OS across all mobile devices globally, that’s some decision to make. But, similar to Google’s decision to venture into manufacturing, Huawei wants to be master of its own domain.

The company has hired former Apple designer Abigail Brody to drive its alternative OS, according to a report on The Information.

Initially briefed with the task of improving Huawei’s Android skin, Brody and her colleagues are now working on “secretly developing an alternative mobile operating system”, according to The Information.

Huawei denies this, though. In a statement which the company sent us, Huawei said Google’s Android OS and ecosystem have “greatly boosted” device manufacturers as well as consumers.

“As long as Android remains open, Huawei will continue using the Android OS and ecosystem. Based on this, we will continue to optimise the performance and interfaces of the system, such as our EMUI, to better meet the demands of consumers across the globe,” reads the statement.

Huawei is putting a lot of focus on its current Android service, with Changzhu Li, vice-president of its mobile business, recently saying a slimmed-down, faster, more intuitive version will be out in the coming months.

Update: This article was updated on June 29 at 16:30 to reflect the statement received from Huawei

Android image via JD Hancock/Flickr

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic