Things you must know about Google’s experimental OS Fuchsia
Fuchsia is an operating system currently being developed by Google. It's appeared publically when the project appeared on GitHub in August 2016, but without any official announcement.
According to the GitHub project, Fuchsia can support many platforms - from embedded systems to smartphones, tablets, and also for personal computers.
The users can install Fuchsia parts on Android devices because it offers cross-platform opportunities.
In May 2017, Fuchsia was updated with a user interface, along with a developer writing that the project was not a "dumping ground of a dead thing", prompting media speculation about Google's intentions with the operating system - including the possibility of it might be replaced Android.
In October 2018, it was reported that the recently announced Google Home Hub may be a known Fuchsia OS test device, code-named "Astro". And, in January 2019, a Fuchsia "device" was added to Android.
A special version of Android Runtime for Fuchsia will be developed. It will run on machines with this system from a FAR file, the equivalent of the Android APK.
Two developers recently managed to get Fuchsia running in the Android Studio Emulator, giving us another look at it, but all it showed was that the OS is still very much in its nascent stages.
At Google’s I/O 2019 developer conference, Hiroshi Lockheimer, a senior vice president of Android and Chrome, offered a little more information during a live recording of a new podcast of what is happening with Fuchsia.
Hiroshi explained, “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. It's 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. It’s not just phones and PCs. In the world of [the Internet of Things], there is 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.”
A pair of indie developers have managed to piece together some of Google’s work-in-progress efforts to demonstrate Fuchsia running directly in the Android Emulator.
The first glimpse at what appears to be the Ermine shell, a replacement for Fuchsia’s original Armadillo UI. This new UI is far less flashy, which makes sense considering it’s designed for developers, not the average user.
So, what's new in Fuchsia?
Fuchsia is based on a new microkernel called Zircon. Zircon is derived from Little Kernel, a small operating system intended for embedded systems. "Little Kernel" was developed by Travis Geiselbrecht, a creator of the NewOS kernel used by Haiku.
Google changed the UI of Chrome OS to be more palatable on a tablet – bringing it closer to a unified OS across different families of devices. Whether it relates to Fuchsia remains to be seen, but we look at it as a step in the right direction.
Fuchsia's user interface and apps are written with Flutter, a software development kit allowing cross-platform development abilities for Fuchsia, Android and iOS. Flutter produces apps based on Dart, offering apps with high performance. Flutter also offers a Vulkan-based graphics rendering engine called Escher.
Google Fuchsia, then, is a hybrid OS that is still very much in development. The entirety of Fuchsia OS is comprised of two distinct but connected user interface (UI) - one is a phone-centric one codenamed ‘Armadillo’, and the other is a traditional desktop UI known as ‘Capybara’ internally. Fuchsia is laden with Google’s Material design found all over its Android and Chrome OS products.
It's also heavily focused on a card-based interface, in which every app you open appears inside one of these cards – plus, you can place multiple apps into a single card. This orients the user around tasks at hand rather than apps.
Fuchsia will see the implementation of a new analytic program called ‘Cobalt’ which will collect information on how you use apps within the OS. Cobalt is supposedly a part of Google’s security-minded approach to the OS, but encryption hasn’t been worked in yet.
Everyone has a question in mind is what devices Google is planning to use it on. There are many speculations that Fuchsia might replace Android but again it is important to remember that as of this point there are no official statements from Google.
So, regardless of what the final product is, or whether or not Google Fuchsia ever makes it to the public, be sure to stay tune, as we’ll update it with any new information comes our way.