Movable type printing, one of China's four great inventions, was studied by a printing craftsman named Bi Sheng during the Qingli period of the Northern Song Dynasty.
But many people may not know that before movable type printing was invented, smart Chinese people had found a solution to replace hand copying, that is, "block printing."
We will engrave words on stone tablets and wood to make printing plates, and then use rubbings to "copy" them on paper. This is also the prototype of early printing.
But why, only movable type printing has been put in a more important position? Even call it the greatest milestone in the history of printing?
The technical principle says it all.
In layman's terms, movable type printing actually subdivides the printing plate again, dividing the text into individual characters, and then the printer picks out the typeface according to the content and makes the printing plate.
After printing, the printing plate can be disassembled again, changed back to the font, and continue to arrange other content.
Therefore, the importance of movable type printing is reflected in this "live."
It is flexible, not fixed, and can be divided and combined. It also greatly reduces the time-consuming of the producer and achieves higher efficiency than engraving.
This kind of thinking of "I have three thousand weak points, take one scoop when I use it" has also inspired future generations and even opened up the design ideas of operating systems:
"If we can disassemble the system into modules, combine them as needed, and change the software and hardware forms and scenarios, can we also explore new possibilities?"
Huawei's HarmonyOS has incorporated this concept into it. Facing the coming era of the Internet of Everything, this highly flexible technical structure that follows the concept of movable type printing may also become the key to Hongmeng's winning the market.
In the past, operating systems were often born following a specific category of hardware.
We say that Windows was born in the PC era, and iOS and Android were born in the smartphone era. They can all get the best experience in the corresponding device category.
But once the equipment shape changes, the situation is completely different.
You will see that Android tablets have been very tasteless due to application compatibility.
Windows is difficult to use on small screens and touch screens because of its interface design.
Over the years, iOS has also indirectly limited the potential of iPad, otherwise Apple would not develop iPadOS and branch off.
It is foreseeable that with the development of the Internet of Things and the demand for intelligent equipment, more and more scenarios will be used in the future. However, due to the constraints of cost and manpower, it is impossible for us to design for every device An independent system.
How to solve the "commensurability problem" between the system and the equipment? This requires us to go back to the starting point and solve it from the source.
The fragmentation of the hardware ecology also forces the industry to conceive a new system that is more flexible and expandable, instead of continuing to conceive the existence of the system from a hardware perspective.
Hongmeng came to change the status quo.
You will see that Huawei does not position Hongmeng as a "single-device form system", but directly proposes a "1+8+N" full-scenario idea, with the intention of covering the entire Internet of Things.
Its system hierarchy is clearer and more modular, allowing developers to adjust system modules and flexibly change the size according to hardware processor performance and memory.
Under this design, it becomes very simple and convenient for developers to use the same system for various hardware.
But new problems have also emerged: There are also many cross-platforms of other systems on the market. Compared with them, what difference can Hongmeng bring? In other words, which ones are unique to Hongmeng?
This involves the use of distributed technology.
It sounds mysterious, but it is very important to Hongmeng. This is also the key to Huawei's attempt to create a "super virtual terminal."
Before talking about distributed technology, let's talk about two examples.
On the Huawei smart screen equipped with the Hongmeng system, you will see that when a Huawei mobile phone and a Huawei smart screen are linked, we can cast video calls and games on the mobile phone to the big TV screen, and vice versa. Likewise, the entire linkage process does not require any data lines, and is completely connected by wireless.
At this Huawei Developer Conference, Huawei also mentioned an example of the linkage of Huawei mobile phones, watches and smart cooking machines. For example, if you want to make a new meal, the mobile phone can not only function with the cooking machine, but the cooking machine can also obtain the user's body data from the wearable device and automatically recommend suitable ingredients.
These scenarios sound nothing special, just data transmission between different devices, but they contain Hongmeng's thinking and application of interconnected scenarios.
Just imagine, in the future, devices of all brands will be connected to the Internet, from home TVs, refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners, to watches, bracelets, light bulbs, and even door locks. They all need to be intelligent. How to coordinate, mobilize information, and provide users with truly useful functions?
Hongmeng's solution is distributed technology.
Specifically, the Hongmeng system disassembles the hardware capabilities of the equipment as a shared resource. When a user needs to call a certain capability, he can extract it from the hardware library at any time, use it across devices, and expand the boundary of the device.
Remember the flexible and variable principle of "movable type printing" we mentioned at the beginning? Distributed technology is very similar to it, which is also the most imaginative part of the Hongmeng system.
Under this logic, hardware such as mobile phones, TVs or speakers is no longer an independent existence for users. As long as you have needs, you can always use the TV screen as an extension of the mobile phone, or use the watch screen As an extension of the mobile phone.
For users at this time, what they experience is a "super virtual terminal" composed of multiple device capabilities. This is also a concept that Huawei often mentions.
This is like a user using a cloud device, and the local hardware is no longer determined by its own capabilities, but defined by software and scenarios.
In addition to the sharing of hardware capabilities, Hongmeng also uses distributed soft bus technology to simplify the connection process between Hongmeng devices and the interoperability of data.
For example, now relying on NFC "touch", you can directly complete the network distribution between Hongmeng devices, and the smoothness of the mobile phone to the large screen has also been enhanced. This is all based on the minimal protocol layer in the soft bus. It has achieved the characteristics of high bandwidth, low delay and high reliability.
At the same time, the communication data between different devices can also be managed by distributed technology, which not only makes cross-device data processing as convenient as local, but also the data can circulate smoothly between devices. What you do on one device Data changes can still be automatically synchronized to other connected devices.
In the end, the cross-device interconnection of the Hongmeng system has become very elegant and comfortable. It not only simplifies the preliminary network distribution process, the distribution and synchronization of data is also smooth enough, but also provides a stronger security authentication capability, which is a better part of Hongmeng than other systems.
After a better user experience is established, more consumers will naturally be willing to choose Huawei products.
If we say that Hongmeng has more or less demonstrated its advantages in terms of system composition and characteristics, but at the ecological level, Hongmeng has to face many difficulties.
The support of developers and the cooperation of hardware manufacturers are all indispensable components of a mature ecosystem.
In addition to this, Hongmeng needs to answer another question: Since the emphasis is on cross-platform, how to do application adaptation? How to make them run smoothly on screens of different shapes and sizes?
This is also the goal the entire industry hopes to achieve. For example, Apple has publicly expressed its desire to integrate applications on the iOS and macOS platforms in the past two years. Earlier, Microsoft's plan for unification in the Windows 8 era was also quite ambitious, but it eventually disappeared.
Regarding the ecological point, Hongmeng actually has no shortcuts, it is destined to rely on time accumulation.
But for applications that connect to different platforms, Huawei puts its foothold on the development end, providing a simpler and easier-to-use development tool chain.
For Hongmeng, this development tool chain is more important, because only with tools can Hongmeng have the opportunity to build its own ecology.
Just as Wang Chenglu, President of Huawei Consumer BG Software Department, said at the developer conference:
"If it hasn't become a programming framework, without a compiler, then there will be no tools and no operating system at all."
One is at the UI level. Hongmeng’s multi-terminal IDE tool can provide developers with a one-stop development environment, including automatic adaptation of screen layout and UI controls, as well as compiling, debugging, and burning, which is equivalent to automatic Help APP to be compatible, and the whole process is visualized.
Secondly, at the functional level, Hongmeng disassembled the application into independent units, divided into categories, and then allowed developers to freely assemble APP functions for different devices, and easily achieve cross-device migration of applications, and this is actually related to distribution. There are many similarities in style technology.
For example, the WPS application shown by Huawei, when it is linked between mobile phones and flat-screen TVs, it will automatically adjust the application display area according to the size of the screen, whether there is a camera, whether it can be connected to the Internet and other hardware characteristics, and allocate the capabilities of the application To the appropriate hardware.
There is also an example of the linkage between a Huawei mobile phone and a watch. On the mobile phone, the Didi taxi application basically uses all the capabilities, but it only needs to call a small part of the module to switch to the watch side.
Therefore, Hongmeng’s solution is very considerate to developers, and the simplification of the development process is also conducive to Hongmeng’s development of the ecosystem.
More importantly, now Hongmeng is more like a light installation. It has no burdens and no worries, so it does not need to worry about the price that may be paid for system unification like other operating systems.
At this year's Developer Conference, Huawei also responded to a sensitive issue: Hongmeng Open Source.
Huawei stated that the Hongmeng system will be open sourced by donating to the Open Source Foundation in the future. The OpenHarmony project will be the first to be donated to the China Open Atomic Open Source Foundation for incubation, and will be open to large screens, watches and cars in September 2020. Beta version.
In December 2020, Hongmeng will further open up a series of tools including SDK, development documents and simulators for mobile devices.
This also means that we will soon see the emergence of the Hongmeng system on the mobile platform.
Finally, what we want to say is that today's Huawei is already a huge company with an annual revenue of over 800 billion yuan, a top three global mobile phone sales, and nearly 200,000 employees. In this special period, it has no Necessary, and there is no reason to advance the operating system with a playful mentality.
Especially this year, Hongmeng has begun to land more equipment, not only Huawei's own, but also third-party partners, which indicates that Huawei has planned a very clear development path for Hongmeng system.
Therefore, instead of speculating about Hongmeng’s motives with malicious intent, it is better to be more patient and objectively evaluate what it is doing and what it may do in the future.
Doing an operating system is never immediate. Opportunities happen occasionally and challenges always exist. We don’t know how long it will take for Huawei to make Hongmeng’s system from zero to substantial maturity. Maybe it’s just to achieve the interconnection and interoperability mentioned above and to organically link people and equipment together. It took several years.
But what is certain is that this step taken by Huawei today is already trying to make up for the few remaining shortcomings in China's communications industry. Just as it will take several years to invest in the field of chip development, Hongmeng is also an ambitious project.
As long as it succeeds, it will not only change Huawei itself, but will create a new pattern in the era of the Internet of Everything.
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