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Huawei CEO says its Android alternative is 'likely' faster but needs its own app store

The Chinese electronics giant is working on its own operating system so as to not rely on Google.

Huawei isn't relying on Google for its operating system.

Ian Knighton/CNET

In late June, Donald Trump said he'd ease the restrictions that forbade US companies from doing business with Huawei, a Chinese tech giant. When exactly that will happen remains unclear, as Huawei appears to still be blacklisted by the Department of Commerce. Most damagingly, the ban means Huawei can't use Google's Android software. But it looks like Ren Zhengfei, Huawei's founder and CEO, isn't banking on being welcomed back into the Android family. 

Zhengfei recently spoke to French publication Le Point about HongMeng OS, an operating system Huawei is creating to minimize its dependence on Google's Android operating system. Zhengfei reportedly said Hong Meng OS is "likely" to be faster than Android, pointing to a report from the state-operated GlobalTimes that said it was 60% faster.

While Zhengfei boasted that HongMeng is designed to connect across multiple devices, including phones, cars and data centers, he did concede that Huawei lacks a serious alternative to Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store. Huawei is now working to create that alternative.

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The CEO's comments mean that, regardless of whether Huawei is lifted from the Department of Commerce's blacklist, Huawei is likely to push on with its own operating system. Though some of the company's phones use Qualcomm chips, most of its flagship phones contain Huawei's own Kirrin CPUs. The company's spat with the US government looks to ultimately make it more self-reliant than ever -- if HongMeng can compete with Android, that is.

A Huawei spokesperson didn't comment on Zhengfei's statements, but did say: "Today, we are still committed to Microsoft Windows and Google Android. But if we cannot use that, we will prepare a plan B to use our own OS." Last Monday a company executive said Huawei "will wait for guidance from the Department of Commerce" regarding Android.

News of Huawei building its own operating system broke in late May, shortly after it was blocked from using Google's software. In June it began trademarking the HongMeng name and invited developers to publish their apps on its AppGallery app store.