back to article Huawei's Watch GT snubs Google for homegrown OS

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 …

  1. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Pareto analysis suggests that 20% of apps are those used 80% of the time. Therefore, if this thing does notifications and fitness stuff well, it might not need that many extra 3rd party apps. Having few apps available has killed phone platforms in the past, but this dynamic might not apply to this generation of smart watches - especially if they piggy back off phones.

    I've noted here before that Linux, good though it is, isn't the best starting place for all OSs. I made said remarks on a thread about QNX - which, like Huawei's LiteOS, is a Real Time micro Kernal OS. Unlike LiteOS, QNX is both battle tested (used in industrial control since the 1980s) and proprietary (bought by BlackBerry a few years back).

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      All modern kernels provide the underpinnings that a smart watch requires and stripped down would have similar memory and power footprints. There is nothing special about QNX which would make it magically work better than the same watch running a Mach, Linux, NT or some other kernel.

      What matters *far* more is what the operating system above the kernel is doing with itself and the active display on the device. The display alone might eat up 80-90% of the power.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        https://software.intel.com/en-us/articles/embedded-development-qnx-or-linux

  2. D_awesome_beast

    "The OS looks like a straight rip of Google's WearOS"

    There are only so many ways to skin the cat with a wearable, something is always going to look like something else.

  3. Unicornpiss Silver badge

    2-week battery life

    Even though in reality it's likely to be more like 10 days or less, it still got my attention. This was one of the reasons I haven't bothered with a smart watch--who needs yet one more thing to remember to recharge daily or every few days? If it's reasonably rugged and water resistant, I might give it a go.

    1. Sampler

      Re: 2-week battery life

      What it really needs is wireless charging to get me engaged, if a watch can be charged by placing it on a pad on the night stand without any faffing around pulling out a rubber grommet and orientating a cable (or such) then it doesn't matter too much if it last two weeks, ten days, or three, so long as it gets from being picked up in the morning to comfortably enough left over in case I don't make it home that night then it's fine.

      But two weeks is still an interest, I get a bit over a week with my Tom Tom Runner 3, same as a I did with the v1 I had for two years, but, after two years that bit over a week was becoming half a week, so, it should last a few years if the batteries great out of the gate, I'd like to see where the iWatches are that barely last to the next day are in a few years after the batteries been charged/discharged a fair few times...

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: 2-week battery life

        The problem with wireless charging and the like it's when you're traveling - bring with you everything needed to recharge several devices, or choose devices that could survive a few days without having to recharge them every night.

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: 2-week battery life

      Seems to me it would be easier to remember to charge something nightly than to remember to charge it every 10 to 14 days. You'd get in the habit of taking it off and charging it each night. Most people are already doing that with their phone, so it is just another thing to hook up before you go to bed.

      You'd lose the ability for sleep monitoring though, if you care about that sort of thing.

      1. Steve the Cynic

        Re: 2-week battery life

        Seems to me it would be easier to remember to charge something nightly than to remember to charge it every 10 to 14 days. You'd get in the habit of taking it off and charging it each night. Most people are already doing that with their phone, so it is just another thing to hook up before you go to bed.

        Doug speaks truth.

        So what if my (Apple) Watch runs down to 67% during the day? It goes on the wireless(1) charging doobrie every night just like my phone goes on the end of a Lightning cable. 67% is enough spare that I can stay out for a night, and the charger is small enough that for a planned outing, I can take it along.

        Sleep monitoring? There's an app for that on the phone, although it can't monitor heart rate and stuff, of course.

        (1) That is, no wire to plug into the Watch. Of course there's a wire from the pad to the mains socket.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 2-week battery life

          Charging overnight is great, but some of us would like to have a smart watch, but not one that we have to take yet another charger for if we go away for a weekend, or a week business trip.

          I miss my Pebble which had a week-long battery life and could do just that.

          This Huawei thing might at last be the replacement I have been looking for.

          I don't care about having a full OS on my phone (or fitness tracking, GPS or receiving phone calls for that matter) just notifications.

          Same reason a smartphone with 2 days battery > 1 day battery. Sure, most days you put it on to charge overnight, plus during the day at the office, but occasionally you stay a night away from home unplanned and it's good to know your phone will last an extra day.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 2-week battery life

        "Seems to me it would be easier to remember to charge something nightly than to remember to charge it every 10 to 14 days."

        Back in the days before phones became "smart" you did only charge them every 10-14 days and people rarely forgot and ran out of power. It's no different from putting petrol in your car: you do it when it is getting low or because it's a convenient time.

        1. Monty Cantsin

          Re: 2-week battery life

          "Back in the days before phones became "smart" you did only charge them every 10-14 days and people rarely forgot and ran out of power. "

          What? People were constantly forgetting to charge their phones back then. In my experience, a lot of people didn't actually plug them in until they had run out. And with the plethora of proprietary chargers that each manufacturer employed (sometimes even different models by the same manufacturer used different chargers), it was often bloody difficult to blag one off someone else when you were caught short.

          Like the poster above, I charge my phone and watch every night, regardless of what power is left. Simple habit to get into, and it always leaves me with contingency capacity. No interest in sleep tracking - I'm quite glad to have 8 hours of my day that isn't monitored by anyone, even me.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 2-week battery life

            "What? People were constantly forgetting to charge their phones back then. In my experience, a lot of people didn't actually plug them in until they had run out."

            This is true. I remember when my wife was out with three friends and managed to, not get a puncture, but actually de-rim a tyre. Not one of them had enough charge in their phone to call the AA. The lesson was duly learned. (The lesson was "there is a charged spare battery for your BlackBerry in the glove compartment", but the principle applies.)

        2. Tigra 07 Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: 2-week battery life

          "It's no different from putting petrol in your car: you do it when it is getting low or because it's a convenient time"

          Don't you refuel cars as often as you would charge an iphone? Every 8 hours.

    3. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: 2-week battery life

      I'm still using my Pebble Time Steel. It's a bit scuffed but otherwise works fine. Battery life is still quite decent too.

      1. Nick Stallman

        Re: 2-week battery life

        Another happy Pebble user here too. Pebble Time, little scuffed and the battery isn't quite a week anymore but it's fantastic.

        This is the first watch that makes me think about replacing it. Nothing short of a week battery will satisfy me - sleep tracking is occasionally useful no matter how much the Apple watch users say its not.

  4. Ralph the Wonder Llama
    Joke

    "urban explorers"

    People lost in cities, then.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Photo, or it didn't happen.

    El Reg may not consider the release to be newsworthy, but a photo of said watch wouldn't have hurt. Here it is:

    https://consumer.huawei.com/en/wearables/watch-gt/

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Photo, or it didn't happen.

      "This watch is resilient to accidents because of its ceramic bezel design, stainless steel shell and DLC coating"

      DLC coating? Fucking microtransactions in everything these days...

      1. navidier

        Re: Photo, or it didn't happen.

        >> "This watch is resilient to accidents because of its ceramic bezel design, stainless steel shell and DLC coating"

        > DLC coating? Fucking microtransactions in everything these days...

        But, seriously folks, if El Reg decides to investigate DLC here's a reasonable place to start:

        https://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/4415

  6. Ron Swanson

    Common platform is sometimes better

    What a lot of people are not aware of is how revolutionary some of this tech can be. I have type 1 diabetes and have always had problems with controlling my blood sugar levels. I have now got a glucose sensor called a Freestyle Libre embedded in my arm. This is connected to a Bluetooth NFC reader called a Miaomiao which transmits my glucose level every 5 minutes to my Ticwatch Pro (Wear OS) watch to an app called XDrip+. This has changed my life. I now have a near constant reading on my watch of my glucose level and the watch and my phone will even ring/vibrate when I am running high or low, thus preventing me going hyper/ hypoglycaemic. This would not be possible with a bespoke OS as the XDrip+ creator made it for Wear OS so that as many watches as possible could support it. So while I applaud new thinking to improve battery life, sometimes the need for a common platform is greater for some of us (And developers I guess!)

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Common platform is sometimes better

      By that logic we would still be stuck with DOS, or Mac OS9, or win3.x /Win 9.x

      Android is after many years still a work in progress and Wear OS is poor cut down version. We need better.

      Developers will port for any platform that succeeds, =has worthwhile user base. Partly Google cheated with Android by using an unlicensed version of Java based on the desktop version. Simple Symbian apps were written in a mobile Java, thus easy to port.

      We do need OS innovation because the current popular platforms are not very good. Security, low power consumption and "sleep" are fudged in after thoughts.

      Too much effort goes into GUI tweaking, often making it worse (excessive skeuomorphic OR "flat" are equally bad), the Ribbon and Win 10 being prominant examples. One to rule them all doesn't work. Watches, phones, big tablets with keyboard options, TV sets/setboxes (screens more than 1.2 m away and 28" to 56") and desktop/laptops all need different GUIs. Pocket gadgets with long battery life, secure switches/routers, phones, desktops/servers/setboxes and IoT may need different OS.

      MS has tried the the Common Platform (CE with Desktop GUI on 320 x240 was stupid, Win 8 on desktop using phone GUI was stupid). Java was from the beginning a write once run everywhere, except it wasn't because embedded things (web interface only), phones, desktop/Laptop and setboxes/TV needed radically different GUI.

      I'm glad about your app. Single platform isn't the reason you have it.

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Common platform is sometimes better

        "Android is after many years still a work in progress"

        Three guesses who's never used Android before. Even Android 1.6 was/is famously able to do more than iOS.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Windows

    I'd like to see a phone version

    I still think there's a place for something between feature and smartphone for business use - secure messaging and email, calendar sync, phone calls and long battery life are all I need - add enough apps to get me directions and HTML5 browser and I'm happy.

    1. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: I'd like to see a phone version

      I still think there's a place for something between feature and smartphone for business use - secure messaging and email, calendar sync, phone calls and long battery life are all I need

      The problems there are twofold, firstly everyone's list is slightly different and secondly the wishlist is often created without any regard for the costs of of what is being requested. Oh, and if at this point you start whining about "inefficient software" or "incompetent developers" you are part of the problem: slimming things down dramtically means making hard choices rather than shifting the blame.

      Firstly the kichen sink attitude - "This is an app I need, therefore everyone else needs it too or it is useless for everyone." Like some of the comments here on the Punkt phone the other week - Oh, it's useless for business without WhatsApp... seriously? For business? I can sympathise slightly more with another user's demand for Slack even if I don't use it myself but adding that it starts to look more like a conventional smartphone. Added WhatsApp as well, well we may as well call it a smartphone.

      The second is user expectations: basic plain text email is easy so we'll have that. You want HTML formatting? That adds bulk. Want to be able to read that attached PDF or Word document? Bang, you're back at a smartphone.

      I think the only way you could do this is to ask not what you can remove but start from scratch and ask what it an absolute must have. Calls and SMS - well if it doesn't have those it wouldn't be a phone. Something email-like even if it has to be curated via some proprietary server to simplify the client, like e.g. like Blackberry was. A web browser is itself a major chunk of software these days thanks to the layer upon layer of technology on the modern web, but a cut down version cut be provided serving mobile-targeted content, a modern WAP if you will. For bespoke business applications some database front end targeting a remote server so people can submit timesheets, delivery notes or whatever it might be for that particular organisation.

      Start looking at it that way and you have reduced the requirements enough to make a noticeable difference to the requirements of the handset rather than fiddling at the margins. However it's also looking like a WAP-enabled feature phone from 2005. People have moved on since then. I really do hate to say it but it appears people are in general willing to put up with the limitations of modern smartphones if they can be promised all the services they have on that modern smartphone.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    price, or it didn't happen...

    200 or 250 euros depending on model

    1. rmason Silver badge

      Re: price, or it didn't happen...

      I don't think the majority will be purchased alone.

      I read elsewhere they will be "bundling" it with whatever the upcoming flagship "pro" phone is. I imagine the majority of them shipped will be acquired in this manner. IIRC samsung did the same with the first "gear".

    2. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: price, or it didn't happen...

      Or £350 when it launches in the UK...

  10. slesser800

    NFC Payments outside China

    If UnionPay has no real scale how will Huawei offer NFC payments through their new GT watch? I know there are companies in the US that can white label, but is the route they will go (garmin does it with fitpay)? Hard to believe they would wait on Unionpay to grow.

  11. IsJustabloke
    Happy

    Hmmmm....

    I really liked my Huawei watch... it did all I wanted it to do plus a bunch of stuff I had no interest in.. (making a phone call from it, play music with it) but in the time I had it (2 months) wearOS updates broke it twice. The last time permanently nothing I could do would repair the phone integration. The Huawei stuff like fitness tracking all worked brilliantly and the companion app was superb as well.

    I've got a Garmin Vivoactive 3 and have found it to be flakey as fuck in comparison. I might take a look at one of these.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Half story

    lots of facts about how big kernels are on one side, and other geeek specs, and then vagueness about Android Wear.

    Don't you just love uncited, made up stories.

    I wouldn't touch a Huawei watch, after seeing how badly they broke Android power management on their own Android devices.

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

      Re: Half story

      The Huawei-built Nexus 6P was competent and quite good. The batteries were shit and plagued by issues, but everything else was good about them.

  13. wolfetone Silver badge

    "Diamond-like Carbon"

    So, it's a Cubic Zirconia then?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Diamond-like Carbon"

      No, diamond-like carbon would be diamond, because there's only one allotrope of carbon with that structure. Cubic zirconia contains no carbon.

  14. Dexter

    I used a device with sleep tracking for a while.

    I think it's a bit of a gimmick; it looks like it's giving you lots of info, but it basically tells you that you slept badly or slept well.

    Funnily enough I already know that when it comes to time to get up in the morning.

    1. detritus

      Clearly what's needed in that case is an app that wakes you up periodically to inform you on the quality of your sleep.

  15. Dan from Chicago

    Gets killed by Garmin

    There are hundreds of apps and widgets available for Garmin watches, its charge is good for 2 weeks of non active-sport activity and a charge can be topped off (from 50% to 100%) in about a half hour.

    The integration with cloud based analytic apps, phone, and 3rd party platforms like Strava is extensive and seamless.

    The performance is due to using a purpose built OS for portable device hardware vs. accepting the power and performance baggage of any general purpose OS.

  16. Tommy Pock

    I have a Huawei P20 and a Huawei Band II watch. You can't poo-poo these guys, they know what they're doing.

  17. Rol Silver badge

    Heart Attack Monitor

    Hi Folks

    My great great niece, who is four years old, has had three heart attacks so far, and has been preliminarily diagnosed with CPVD.

    I'm desperate to find something like this product that we can strap on her wrist to monitor for a heart attack, and then scream for help.

    During the day, she is always around people aware of what to look out for, but she is no less likely to suffer an attack during the night, and this is when she and her sleepless parents need help.

    Fitness monitors just don't cut it and the bed monitor available through the NHS is totally unsuitable for a restless child. The rest are aimed at geriatrics, with built-in fall sensors, which would be ringing up false positives every thirty seconds, as she bounces around like most other four year olds.

    If you have any suggestions I'd be very grateful to hear them.

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