How a Former Apple Designer is Updating Huawei’s Look

It’s an interesting turn of events: a Chinese company that wants to be like Apple hires a former Apple designer to make its smartphone software look less like Apple’s.

Last fall, Chinese electronics manufacturer Huawei brought in a former longtime Apple designer, Abigail Brody, to change the look of its smartphone software “skin,” which sits on top of Google’s Android mobile operating system. The Huawei skin has been criticized by Western phone review writers as ripping off elements of the iPhone, such as the way the app icons look.

Ms. Brody is expected to introduce features that look like those found on most Android phones, but with Huawei’s own flair. And to hedge its bets against Google’s control of Android, Huawei is also secretly developing an alternative mobile operating system, according to three people briefed about the project.

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In the phone interview, she said, “I died almost two times in this life.” She knows she doesn’t have unlimited time. So at Huawei, she said, “I’m not here to be a little designer. I’m here to change the world.”

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Huawei could become “the world’s No. 1, the most advanced and favorite ‘lifestyle-centric’ ecosystem, and without having to copy Apple at all, ever!”