Google is believed to be building Fuchsia as an operating system that will eventually replace Android and serve as a single unified operating system across all of its devices. While Google has not spoken about the operating system or what it aims to do with it, the search giant has kept the OS under wraps. At I/O 2019, Google is finally detailing Fuchsia and its ambition with a radical new operating system. Hiroshi Lockheimer, Senior VP of Android and Chrome, has shed more light on the secretive operating system and his comments does not sound like the OS is that ambitious after all.
During a live recording of The Vergecast, Lockheimer acknowledged that Fuchsia OS is still an experiment. “We’re looking at what a new take on an operating system could be like. And so I know out there people are getting pretty excited saying, ‘Oh this is the new Android,’ or, ‘This is the new Chrome OS’ … Fuchsia is really not about that. Fuchsia is about just pushing the state of the art in terms of operating systems and things that we learn from Fuchsia we can incorporate into other products.”
Fuchsia’s real promise lies in the fact that it is not another Android. While Android is built as an open-source operating system with Linux kernel, Fuchsia has a different kernel built from the ground up by Google. This gives Google more control over the operating system and ability to design the operating system as an interoperable software, one that works reliably on different device form factors, be it mobile, desktop, laptop, game console or wearable.
The comment from Android’s Senior VP suggests that the operating system might not be released to end devices. It is also not likely to replace Android, which has been rumored since Fuchsia appeared in the wild for the first time. “It’s not just phones and PCs. In the world of [the Internet of Things], there are an increasing number of devices that require operating systems and new runtimes and so on. I think there’s a lot of room for multiple operating systems with different strengths and specializations. Fuchsia is one of those things and so, stay tuned,” Lockheimer added.
Watch: Fuchsia OS on Google Pixelbook
To recall, Fuchsia first surfaced online in 2016 as a mystery open-source project on GitHub and had no official announcement regarding its link with Google. The project is based on a microkernel developed by Google called “Zircon” which added more interest to the project. The OS, unlike Android, is really scalable and is suitable for use on devices like smartphones, tablets as well as PCs. This scalable nature added credence to the rumor that it will replace Android on phones and ChromeOS on PCs.
The UI, as seen on an initial version found running on Google Pixelbook, is written using Flutter and its apps are based on Dart, which improves performance and graphical elements. It relies on Vulkan-based rendering engine called Etcher and the UI is capable of running at 120 frames per second. The Fuchsia OS in its current form can be run on Android Studio emulator and while Lockheimer’s comments don’t declare the OS as a natural replacement for Android, it does have the might for being the primary OS on IoT devices and could eventually extend to smartphones.