Surprise: The first device to get Huawei’s Android alternative isn’t a phone

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Ahead of releasing its operating results next week covering the first half of the year, Huawei has finally revealed the first device that will be based on its proprietary operating system that once seemed destined as the company’s Plan B for losing Android access as a result of the US ban. However, the first device getting the company’s Hongmeng OS won’t actually be a phone, as once assumed — it will instead be a TV with a smart screen, the company announced at a launch event Friday for its first 5G phone in China.

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Richard Yu, the CEO of Huawei’s consumer business group, said as part of Friday’s announcement that the company wants the new TVs it’s formally calling “Smart Screens” to be the central entertainment and communications hub in consumers’ living rooms. And these TVs based on Huawei’s Hongmeng operating system will launch next month.

The beleaguered Chinese electronics giant hasn’t revealed too much at this point about the OS that they quickly touted as a defensive measure after the US ban was put in place. The company said it had actually been long at work on a replacement for Android if one was ever needed, then trademarked several names for such an OS including Hongmeng and Ark.

However, Huawei earlier this month seemed to reverse course a but when a company executive said that, actually, the company preferred to stick with Android for its phones and was hopeful the US ban would be lifted. It had been assumed the company was keeping Hongmeng waiting in the wings for its phones, but today underscores reports from recent days that, actually, the Hongmeng OS would be used to power connected devices and internet of things products.

Despite the US ban, meanwhile, analysts estimate that far from being irreparably hampered Huawei is actually selling so many smartphones in China that it’s making up for any business lost as a result of the ban, which has been in place since May. Still, various effects of the ban are still being felt, as Chinese state media reported on Friday.

China is continuing to investigate FedEx, for example, over its handling of Huawei packages, which the US-based transportation giant previously said has been a result of ambiguity from regulators concerning the ban. Indeed, FedEx in recent weeks took the unusual step of suing the US Dept. of Commerce over this issue. Meanwhile, state media in China reported on Friday that regulators in the country think FedEx has ultimately held back and declined to ship more than 100 packages Huawei was trying to send to China.

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