Google’s Fuchsia OS, An Android OS Replacement?

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I have always wondered what will happen when we get to Android Z and if Google will start from Android AA or something or even figure out a way to name the versions of Android OS. But Google being Google has already planned ahead and readied themselves for that. From the look of things and the way the development is going, we may not even get to Android Z as Google is already planning and may replace the Android OS and also the Chrome OS with an all in one operating system called the Fuchsia OS.

What Is the Fuchsia OS?

Google‘s Fuchsia OS is a hybrid OS based on a microkernel (let us just say it is very light) called Zircon and it is capable of running on smartphones, embedded systems, tablets and personal computers. Though still in development, the OS is promising as it has proven its compatibility with present Android devices making it possible for users to install parts of the Fuchsia OS on Android devices and also Pixelbooks.

Unlike Android, the Operating System is not based on Linux, but Google developed Magenta which is aimed at modern phones and personal computers with faster processors.

The Fuchsia OS is divided into two parts internally: Armadillo, a mobile based User Interface and Capybara User Interface, built for a traditional desktop. By having the same OS running both devices seems like Google is borrowing a leaf from Microsoft over Windows 10 which scales depending on which hardware it is being used.

Fuchsia UI

Fuchsia UI is made with Google’s Material Design giving it more depth. Also, Google has reportedly ditched the App drawer for the Cards based Interface, and every application opened appears in one card. Below is a video from last year showing the Fuchsia OS UI on a phone.

The screen is a big scrolling list, and it has your profile, date and battery icon and also suggestions and story cards.

Recent apps can be dragged around and dropped anywhere to organize and personalize the home screen. Multiple applications can be placed in one card can create a split screen mode, and two apps in one card can be opened to offer a combined action, offering a split screen or tabbed interface with up to three apps.

While there is more test being carried out on a mobile device, there are instances of the Fuchsia OS being tested on Pixelbooks.

Fuchsia OS
Image Courtesy ArsTechnica

Fuchsia is designed to accommodate Google Assistant as everything you have done, and everything you can do is visible to google assistant (according to current Fuchsia documents). This I bet is all in order to make the device user experience more flexible as the Google Assistant can help monitor your actions and probably open up suggestions or complete a task faster.

Fuchsia for Developers

For the code freaks, Google’s Fuchsia is offering a lot as it reaches out to developers of all background. The UI is mostly written in Dart (this is a language developed for Java and Javascript developers as it feels familiar to them) through Flutter framework (Google’s mobile app SDK for crafting high-quality native interfaces on iOS and Android in record time.)There is also support for Rust and Go, and Google is also rumoured to be targeting Apple’s developers with its introduction of the Swift Support.

Why Fuchsia Anyways? Isn’t Android Good enough?

Originally built as an operating system for digital cameras, Android has come a long way after being repurposed for phones. This doesnt mean that problems were resiolved as android still faces a lot of challenges.

From Linux legal issues over bugs and vulnerabilities to the use of Java, the one that seems to hurt Android more is the fragmentation of Google’s Android OS. The Android OS is open source thus manufacturers tinker with it and load it into random hardwares, this creates different custom versions of Android, givinng us an adulterated OS instead of the latest purest version we so much deserve.

Even the annual release schedule for Android updates takes years to fully inundate the android market as OEMS will have to tinker with the updates again since Google cant directly push updates to these devices.

Though Google has introduced Project treble (in order to seperate Android OS framework from OEM’s implementation to make the process of rolling in updates faster), the OEMs (yes, OEMs again) are reluctant to include it in their devices leaving users vulnerable to exploits that have been patched. Also, the project treble will not solve all the problems as it is limited to Android O and beyond.

Here is where the Fuchsia OS comes into play. Since it has its own custom kernel which is designed to be consistently upgradeable, applications are isolated from having direct kernel access thus providing an extra layer of security and also solve the apps incompitibility problems that results after systems upgrade, a problem presently on Android.

Fuchsia OS is more then just a replacement but a window into the future of Google’s plans as the present Android OS will not be able to accommodate Google’s dreams. That is not to say Google is abandoning Android OS, never considering the amount of revenue the OS is pulling in.

Fuchsia may also be Google’s answer to Microsoft’s Windows 10 and Apple’s iOS-to-macOS Sierra Continuity which have been scaled to run on multiple devices.

Should we have any worries?

Data mining is part of Google’s formula for building targeted ads and some persons are already worried if their details and activities would be monitored by Google Assistant thus breaching privacy. Well, Google would be shooting themselves in the foot if they should try that and I am sure they will try not to mine our data by introducing policies like they did with Google Classroom. Besides, taking updates off OEM’s hands would mean we will be able to get regular updates easily and fast without any parts of the OS being tweaked. Trust is the key here.

When will Fuchsia be Released

Fuchsia itself is still in active development and still has a long way to go. Though since it is still in development, there can be changes and more features maybe ditched or added as per the consumer’s requirements. But you can check out an early release bundled in an APK by SlashGear and HotFixIt which can be downloaded here. Mind you; this is just a UI test version so don’t expect anything to work.

With major brands like Samsung, LG, OnePlus and the rest relying on Android, change may still be far off but then again Google may have made enough progress but is likely keeping everything under wraps. Who knows, we may see a consumer phone soon.

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