In August of 2016, Google published a project on GitHub codenamed Fuchsia (now moved here). Google made no official announcement, but code inspection suggested this was a brand-new operating system. Why does Google take on to develop a new OS instead of perfecting Android? What it means for developers and when should we expect it?
Yes, you are not mistaken. Google decided to undertake developing an entirely new OS, instead of fixing the existing one (Android & Chrome OS). Personally, I am not in favor of this decision as they could spend these resources perfecting the Linux kernel and adopting it fully in Android. Instead, they choose to deliver a completely new OS to the market.
What is inside?
Fuchsia is not based on Linux kernel like Android, nor Darwin(BSD) like IOS. Rather, it uses the Zircon microkernel, developed specifically for Fuchsia. It is reported that Fuchsia will be able to run on many platforms, including smartphones, tablets, embedded systems, and personal computers. Google has already published instructions on how to run Fuchsia on Pixelbooks as well as other systems. Fuchsia uses its own Armadillo UI shell for GUI and Flutter as a primary SDK for app development. You can read more about Flutter in my other post and even follow a tutorial to create a todo app using Flutter. The good news is Flutter already works on Android and IOS so the transition should be relatively painless. Another good thing is that Google promises that Fuchsia will be able to run Android apps natively. We will have to wait until the launch to find out if Google lives up to its promises. Another great feature is that most of Fuchsia is open-source. It uses MIT and BSD licenses and you could examine their code and even take part in the development.
Is it going to end up at Google Cemetery?
Google Cemetery is a website that lists products and services abandoned by Google, 164 and counting. While it is nearly impossible to guess Google’s intentions, it is unlikely that Google will abandon Fuchsia. Firstly, I quote Fuchsia’s developer Travis Geiselbrecht, “[Fuchsia] isn’t a toy thing, it’s not a 20% project, it’s not a dumping ground of a dead thing that we don’t care about anymore.”, and this sounds promising. Secondly, with the rise of IoT, Google realizes that Android is not a perfect fit for it, as well as for many other things. One concrete proof-of-work of Fuchsia is Google Home Hub.
When should we expect a release?
Difficult to tell. Back in February of 2019, people noticed there was a release candidate branch on Fuchsia’s Git repository. While release candidate builds usually suggest that the product is almost ready for production, it is definitely not the case with Fuchsia. Some people think it was just the test of the ability to make releases, having nothing to do with an actual release. But these are still rumors. On the latest Google I/O, Hiroshi Lockheimer, Senior Vice President of Android, Chrome, Chrome OS & Play at Google, talked publicly about Fuchsia for the first time, but still not giving any concrete details on when to expect a release. He suggested, though, that Fuchsia was only a testing polygon for trying out new concepts.
This is all the relevant info I could gather around the internet about Google’s brand-new OS, Fuchsia. If you have any more insight or think I missed something vital, do not hesitate to post it in the comments or reach out to me.