For a company that started life as a search provider, Google has a surprising number of operating systems under its belt. There’s Android and its many permutations, there’s Chrome OS, and now the company has quietly launched an entirely new alternative: the mysterious Google Fuchsia Operating system ( Fuchsia OS).
Google is officially rolling out this new operating system to consumers. And is certainly getting a quiet, anti-climatic release, as it’s only being made available to one device, the Google Home Hub, aka the first-generation Nest Hub. And although the Nest Hub will swap its current Cast OS for Fuchsia OS the experience is likely to be almost identical, and most users are unlikely to even notice the switch.
Fuchsia OS is most certainly is in the early phase and for now it’s just for IoT devices. At first, this idea sounds like a letdown. I mean The collective mind of the internet seemed sure that Fuchsia was the replacement for Android or part of a larger merging of Android and Chrome to power all things Google. Well, that’s still true as Fuchsia will at some point in the future replace Android and ChromeOS.
But before I get there let me explain what Fuchsia OS is and why it matters.
You see unlike Android and Chrome OS, Google Fuchsia is not based on Linux, but rather Google’s own new microkernel called “Zircon” which means unlike Android, Google has total control on this operating system. This gives Google the 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.
Fuchsia’s real promise lies in the fact that it is scalable. A unified operating system to rule them all from household appliance territory to Desktop territory.
Fuchsia OS will support Android apps, but it will have an app store of its own and arstechnica points out that Fuchsia’s primary app-development language is Flutter, a cross-platform UI toolkit from Google. Flutter runs on Android, iOS, and the web, so writing Flutter apps today for existing platforms means you’re also writing Fuchsia apps for tomorrow.
This means that developing apps for Fuschia OS isn’t hard at all for developers because Google could just get coders to write in Flutter and build an app ecosystem and then it could seamlessly swap out the operating system. So rest assured Fuchsia will not fail because of lack of apps the way windows phone did.
This all sounds intriguing but the question remains will Fuchsia OS replace Android?
Well, Google itself has clarified a while ago that they have no plan to replace Android with Fuchsia anytime soon. But the company didn’t completely deny it either. Personally, I think the Fuchsia OS will surely make its way onto more hands-on devices like phones or Chromebooks but that may take years.
Seeing as Android is the world’s most popular operating system, it wouldn’t make much business sense to fragment that market by asking users to make this leap into the unknown any time soon. But when Google sees a financial benefit to doing it then we’ll see a unified operating system.
Interestingly, though An old Bloomberg report from 2018 has absolutely nailed the timing of the Fuchsia launch, saying that Google will ship the Fuchsia OS on connected home devices “within three years”. It’s 2021, Google has officially launched Fuchsia OS on Nest hub. The 2018 Bloomberg article also says the Fuchsia will expand to smartphones and laptops by 2023. Will we see that actually happen, I guess time will tell.