As for WearOS, Google’s wearable tech operating system, while the platform delivers a fit-for-purpose UI, it’s become known for devices with terrible battery life. Some options like the Oppo Watch offer dual modes, with a basic power-saving feature, but that’s a hack on Oppo’s part, and the low-power functionality is a glorified sleep tracker.
And so, it does make some sense for Huawei to fix glaring holes in the competition with its debut of HarmonyOS 2.0, while it develops its take on smartphones, which are actually pretty great.
Starting with tablets, Huawei announced three of them: the MatePad 11, MatePad Pro 10.8, and MatePad Pro 12.6. All three share the same interface and look instantly familiar (to iPad users) when you fire them up.
At the bottom of the MatePad UI sits a shortcut tray, with a recent apps section on the right side, and docked apps o the left, virtually identical to Apple’s slate. Swipe down from the top right, and there’s a Control Centre (Apple’s naming), while a swipe down further left brings down notifications. Huawei’s Assistant screen is also Apple-inspired, with dynamic widgets displaying battery info and an editable grid, versus Google’s single-purpose news feed.
Huawei hasn’t just taken inspiration from Apple for its tablet version of HarmonyOS. It’s also nabbed some Windows 10 flourishes. For example, hover the tablet’s M Pen over an icon in the tray, and a preview window showing all instances of the app pop up. This means, as with a PC, you can work across multiple windows of the same app (if the feature’s supported). The MatePads also allow working across floating windows, in addition to split-screen multitasking. That means you can use up to four apps on-screen at once.
There are also a host of elements exclusive to HarmonyOS, with the most notable being projection modes. The MatePads can act as second screens for Windows 10 computers, offering similar functionality to Sidecar on an iPad matched with MacOS Catalina.
Either mirroring your Windows display or extending it, combined with Huawei’s M Pen, the feature turns a HarmonyOS tablet into a Wacom Cintiq-esque graphic design tool, complete with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity.
What makes the MatePads even better, especially the largest 12.6-inch version, is that tablets are less reliant on apps than phones. With such big displays, they can run like browser-based ChromeOS devices. We were having Google Meet calls, editing Google Docs, and uploading YouTube videos in our time with the tab through a browser, something we wouldn’t dream of doing on a phone.