Will Google replace the Android operating system with “Fuchsia”?

We haven’t heard from Google’s ominous Fuchsia operating system for a long time. But now, for the first time, a device has appeared on which the system is supposed to run. Is the market launch imminent now?

Although Google is mainly known for developing the Android operating system, it also has other OS projects such as Chrome OS for Chromebooks and WearOS for smartwatches. For several years the company has been working on another operating system: Fuchsia. The cross-platform OS should be able to run on smartphones as well as tablets and smart devices. Now a new device has been registered with the Bluetooth SIG (Interest Group), on which Fuchsia is apparently installed.

Fuchsia appears for the first time as an operating system on a Google device

The new entry can be found on the certification page of the Bluetooth interest group since May 4th, 2021 . Manufacturers register their devices there in order to be able to receive the Bluetooth seal. The device is a Google Home Hub from 2018. Actually, the device was named Nest Hub in 2019. It is therefore a bit surprising that Google chose the old name for this entry.

Usually an adapted form of the Cast platform runs on the Nest Hub, on which devices like the Chromecast are based. According to the entry, however, Fuchsia version 1.0 is running on this Google Home Hub. Google has already created a Bluetooth entry for the operating system. However, this was only the Bluetooth software solution for Fuchsia, not a stand-alone device.

However, it is very unlikely that Google will offer Fuchsia for its smart hubs or other devices in the near future. Presumably, the company is only testing how well the operating system works on a smart speaker with a screen. It is also conceivable that Google would like to boost the development of Fuchsia and therefore provide the platform for developers. It wasn’t until late 2020 that the company expanded Fuchsia’s open source model to allow for public contributions .

A successor for Android?

Android remains highly fragmented despite Google’s efforts over the past few years. Almost every manufacturer of Android smartphones and tablets has its own interface on top of Android, which makes updates difficult. When a new version of Android is released by Google, manufacturers first have to adapt their interfaces to it – and that takes time. Often the effort is too great for them. For the user, this simply means: No more updates.

Fuchsia could mean the break here. It is loud “9to5Google “ be with Android apps compatible. Although the files are packaged differently, there is a specially developed version of the Android runtime environment (ART) that enables the apps to run. Android users would not even have to be prepared for major changes. This is not surprising, after all, Android is the world’s most popular operating system and a successor, whatever it is, should be able to make use of the huge pool of existing apps.

There is still a little damper for those who are already hoping for fuchsia. Android and Chrome boss Hiroshi Lockheimer confirmed  according to “The Verge”  at Google I / O 2019 that Fuchsia is not being traded as the new Android or the new Chrome OS. Rather, it is a test environment in which modern and novel technologies can be tried out. Google wants to use the knowledge gained from this to improve other products. In what form fuchsia will find its way onto smartphones, tablets and other devices is still completely unclear.

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Fuchsia is meant to be cross-platform

Fuchsia is an open source project, similar to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), which appeared on the developer website GitHub in 2016. With Fuchsia, Google is attempting a comprehensive platform that can run on smartphones, tablets, laptops, smart speakers and embedded devices, among other things. It is thus following an approach that Microsoft and Apple are already using in their operating systems. 

Windows 10 runs, for example, on desktop PCs and laptops as well as tablets and automatically adapts the display to classic control by mouse or input by touching the screen. Originally, Windows smartphones should also run Windows 10 before Microsoft completely crushed this division. Apple also enables cross-platform use of apps with its new macOS Catalina and iOS operating systems. In plain language: Apps that run on the iPhone should also come to the MacBook and Mac.

Fuchsia is more in the direction of Windows, with a uniform operating system that is displayed differently on different device types. If Fuchsia were to replace Android, Chrome OS and Co., there would only be one operating system that Google would have to take care of.

From the ground up from our own development

While Android is based on the Linux kernel, Fuchsia uses a completely new kernel called “Zircon”. Zircon is developed by Google itself and gives the company more control over the new operating system. The modern kernel is able to adapt the operating system to almost any area of ​​application and is therefore compatible with a large number of device classes. The kernel also runs on all processor architectures, be it 32-bit, 64-bit, ARM or 64-bit X86.

A central feature of Fuchsia is the additional layer between the kernel and apps, which prevents apps from permanently accessing the kernel. Not only does this improve security, it also prevents OS updates from leading to incompatible apps. Google has already found a solution with “Project Treble” to wrest at least fundamental kernel innovations from the responsibility of the smartphone manufacturers, but they are often unwilling to implement Treble. With Zircon, however, Google can deliver new updates to all devices at the same time and guarantee smartphone owners a seamless and simplified user experience.

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What does fuchsia look like?

Fuchsia can already be viewed in a web demo on the GitHub page . You can log into the demo with a guest account and see the main screen with a search bar and Google maps. There are currently only three maps available: email, recipes and maps. The cards are probably customizable and can also display other content, including messages and reminders.

The Google Assistant is at the heart of Fuchsia. The search function is already prominently placed at the top of the main screen. However, it can be argued how representative the demo is of the final version. Finally, Inbox by Google is used as the e-mail client, which was crushed by Google itself a few months ago.

Fuchsia’s surface uses the material design already known from Android, but has its own render engine called Escher, which relies on shading. This creates the impression of depth in the surface.

Fuchsia includes two different surfaces for smartphones, smart screens and laptops. “Armadillo”, which adapts Fuchsia for smartphones, swipes the Android home screen and instead shows the Google feed and recently opened apps. The apps can be positioned by drag & drop and even placed next to and below one another. “Capybara”, the desktop-like version of Fuchsia, has a similar structure, but has a control center in the middle that looks very similar to the notification bar in Android.

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