We review Huawei HarmonyOS ... in the car

We review Huawei HarmonyOS … in the car

We had the opportunity to test HarmonyOS in one of the most unusual places – the first co-developed Huawei AITO M5, which was reviewed by sister site ArenaEV.com. It’s great to see automakers take advantage of smartphone companies and their expertise to create seamless and seamless operating systems.

Huawei has gone beyond that and made sure to introduce their HarmonyOS for the first time in a vehicle that they jointly developed. In the center console is the giant 15.6-inch infotainment system that runs on HarmonyOS. Huawei calls the screen 2k, the actual resolution is 1,920×1,080px and the panel is 90% screen-to-body HDR.

Huawei HiSilicon Kirin 990A

  • CPU:4 Taishan V20 Lite (big core), 4 Cortex-A55
  • GPU:8 Mali- G76
  • AI/NPU:2 Ascend Da Vinci D110 Tiny, 1 Ascend Da Vinci D100 Lite
  • Miscellaneous: Support 5G network connection; computing power: 3.5TOPs

The 990A differs from the Kirin 990 chip in the aspect of consumer electronics, the Kirin 990A has fundamental changes in the CPU performance core, the number of GPU cores has been halved, and the NPU has made some changes in the number of cores. However, since the two chips are not used for the same platforms (one for cars, one for mobile electronics), there is no way to directly compare their performance.

Reports suggest that Huawei is considering making the chip a small, pluggable board, similar in size to a laptop’s RAM stick, allowing you to upgrade your hardware. That’s good news, given that a car has a much longer life than the chips that power its infotainment systems.

A quick review of the HarmonyOS infotainment system for the Aito M5

We’ll start by listing the main differences between Android Auto, Apple Carplay, and HarmonyOS:

1. By viewing the screen, a rich application ecosystem is immediately available. Most of the applications installed on the mobile phone can be used in the car, there is no problem to play big mobile games.

Getting around HarmonyOS
Getting around HarmonyOS
Getting around HarmonyOS

Getting around HarmonyOS

2. Phone video calls can be seamlessly transferred to the car when entering, and the in-car call can use the in-car camera, microphone and speaker. Two HarmonyOS-powered cars can make video calls.

3. The voice assistant has the ability to recognize the sound separation area and can control almost all devices in the car, including windows and air conditioners. In addition to that, it also has advanced functions such as continuous dialogue and visual to speak.

HarmonyOS
HarmonyOS
HarmonyOS

HarmonyOS

Using HarmonyOS in the car is a node in which Huawei can showcase one of the best and most practical IoT applications. Huawei has a comprehensive catalog of smart home products, ranging from smart cameras, smart locks/doorbells, TVs, etc., so after you log into your Huawei account, the same account products can also be controlled via car, voice control, etc. “Turn on the living room camera”, “Turn off the TV”, “Connect video to the living room TV” (Yes, that’s right! Huawei has a TV with a camera on top to allow direct video calls to it!), All this can be achieved through the information system and entertainment.

Settings menu
Settings menu
Settings menu

Settings menu

After using HarmonyOS for a while, we can say that the system works amazingly well, the whole system is very customizable and Huawei has definitely made it smart. The camera on the driver’s side can recognize faces and automatically change themes/homescreens for the driver as they enter the vehicle.

If it’s paired with Huawei phones, smartwatches, or something else in Huawei’s ecological surroundings, then everything links together seamlessly – want to go somewhere and get a location on your phone? Just send it to the car and it will open the Maps app for you.

Most things are intuitive, for example, the most commonly used controls for the driver will be on the left hand side making it easy to access and almost everyone who uses a phone will be able to use this infotainment without much difficulty. However, the very similarity to the phone/tablet experience made us scroll up from the bottom to go back to the home page a few times, instead of tapping the home button in the lower left corner as required.

Dashboard and home screen
Dashboard and home screen
Dashboard and home screen

Dashboard and home screen

The home screen contains what Huawei calls a “Smart Dock,” similar to the base of the apps on your phone. You can change and edit the applications you want to continue in the bottom row. There are also widget-style apps like Weather, Music, and News, which will show you the latest weather, news updates, and music playing in real time. This home screen is also what makes it so easy to pick up the system because it’s just like your phone.

Smart dock, assistant, home screen
Smart dock, assistant, home screen
Smart dock, assistant, home screen

Smart dock, assistant, home screen

The App Store is Huawei’s AppGallery, but apps must first be given the green light to be “car-friendly”. So the number of apps you can usually download on a Huawei phone has been significantly reduced, but there’s still a lot left to do by in-car infotainment standards. User experience is key here, if you prefer a specific music app or navigation app, download it and make it the default app. Even decent infotainment systems like Tesla’s can’t match HarmonyOS in terms of customization.

store
store
store

store

The important thing to note is that the Maps app is also in the Smart Dock. It’s on the driver’s left side for quick access but this is still less noticeable than in most other cars where Maps/Navigation is usually a standalone choice or the home page itself.

Does this affect the driver’s ability to use the infotainment? no. When you use the Maps app to navigate, and you want to open another app, a split screen will open where the navigation will remain on the left and the open app will be on the right. This split screen ratio can also be changed to different ratios and apps can be switched to either side.

What happens if you accidentally press the home button from the navigation afterwards? In the upper left corner, a medium-sized guiding device will appear to indicate the next turn, length of flight, etc.

In the Settings apps, under System, we can see that the car is running HarmonyOS build 2.1.0.109, and just like on your phone, storage management and a lot of system information can be accessed. Lots of things can also be tweaked – Huawei Assistant lets you customize the wake-up command for whatever you want and that’s miles better than other systems that require you to use a generic “hello ___”.

A quick review of the HarmonyOS infotainment system for the Aito M5

Then there are the usual settings you’ll see in other cars. Driving allows you to edit the driving profile, drive mode, auto press and ESC. Power shows you remaining miles, scheduled charging times, etc. Although we’ve used these settings in other cars a million times, when used in the AITO M5, they look refreshingly different – there’s no lag, it’s intuitive, and the user interface is fun to look at too.

Driving settings
Driving settings
Driving settings

Driving settings

One interesting pose I stuck with, that was the nap pose – with three settings – nap, meditation, and breathing. Sometimes when you have a stressful morning at work, you just want to relax. So hop in your HarmonyOS-powered AITO M5 and hit nap mode – the car makes gentle sounds of birds and water, and the driver’s seat reclines again to a near horizontal position. This function allows you to relax and immerse yourself, and we felt much more comfortable after using the “breathing” mode for only 3 minutes.

Now let’s talk about the voice assistant – as mentioned earlier, the alarm command can be changed and the assistant is able to “smart listen”, what this does when you wake up the assistant for the first time, you can have an ongoing conversation with him and he will listen to all the commands at a specific time. This is something other car voice assistants can do, too.

A quick review of the HarmonyOS infotainment system for the Aito M5

What sets this apart is the recognition rate, speed, and what you can do with the voice assistant. The voice assistant can control everything on the screen, “scroll down” in settings, say “display”, “set HUD screen brightness to 0”, and “set to 100%”. Voice commands are instant and you don’t need to wake up the assistant.

The way you handle context is also amazing, after setting the HUD brightness to 0 and then saying “set to 100%” you will turn the HUD brightness to 100, knowing that is what you mean. Having a random chat with your friends won’t disable the AI ​​either, it magically knows you’re not talking to it and it will ignore you – Smart Listening is timed 1 minute after you wake up the assistant, listen for 1 minute after the last voice control then go to sleep or You can cancel it at any time.

A quick review of the HarmonyOS infotainment system for the Aito M5

Overall, this version of HarmonyOS shows that Huawei has optimized it for car use and it’s great to see a lot of effort dedicated to ease of use and no hassles to use while driving. Although there are differences and some limitations on what can be done, the basic settings and user interface design are the same as on a Huawei phone.

A quick review of the HarmonyOS infotainment system for the Aito M5

HarmonyOS is tuned to be able to use the Kirin 990A chipset to its fullest with apps and other functions that have become completely user-friendly with absolutely no hiccups in our time. Some automakers like BYD and Geely have expressed interest in adopting the OS, so you may see a lot of it in the future.

Check out our full Aito M5 review at ArenaEV

2022-05-15 17:20:01

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