Google Fuchsia: Why This New Operating System Solves a Huge Coding Problem

A mysterious project by Google.

Google is already hard at work on the replacement for the two operating systems that currently power its mobile and desktop platforms. This replacement is called Fuchsia and it has the potential to revolutionize the way mobile, laptop, and desktop devices all interact with one another.

The Mountain View-based company currently sells two operating systems, Android — for smartphones and tablets — and Chrome OS, which is for laptops and desktops. While both are marketed as distinct products for different use cases, Google has demonstrated that both systems could be incorporated to, say, seamlessly run Android apps on Chrome OS. The yearly Google I/O conference currently splits its time between these two systems, but in a few years, developers could take the stage to discuss Fuchsia updates and Fuchsia updates only.

Developers demonstrated Android software running on Chrome OS during the 2014 I/O conference, sparking rumors that the desktop operating system could be folded into Android. But while Google is looking to better integrate the two systems, SVP of Platforms Hiroshi Lockheimer made it clear in a 2015 blog post that “there’s no plan to phase out Chrome OS.” Though, to be sure, a lot has changed since that could make the case for integration stronger.

Fuchsia would enable developers to code apps, programs, and tools that could work on all of Google’s platforms, without the need for the time-consuming process of optimization. That means coders would be able to create a messaging app that would work on smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and even smart home devices from the get-go.

The Android and Chrome OS interfaces we've grown used to could one day be replaced with one operating system.

Unsplash / Suika Ibuki

Here’s everything you need to know about Google Fuchsia:

What Will Google Fuchsia Do?

Think of Fuchsia like the great tech unifier. Unlike, iOS and MacOS that only operate on compatible devices, every device would be compatible with Fuchsia. It’ll be a hybrid that offers mobile-designed views and traditional desktop interfaces.

The mobile layout has been code-named “Armadillo” and the other view has been dubbed “Capybara,” reported 9to5Google. Both sides of Fuchsia will work together using a tab system that will make up a majority of the user experience.

Mockup of how Fuchsia's card system might look like.

Jovan Petrović

Users will be able to interact with apps designed on Armadillo and Capybara that are displayed as cards on a home screen. This framework will enable multitasking, allowing you to collapse different apps into each other and work on them using a split-screen interface.

How Will Google Fuchsia Look Like?

Fuchsia is still very much a work in progress, so the final product could look entirely different upon release. Google has made the operating system’s code available online allowing the most curious users boot it up on their devices if they want an early look.

ArsTechnica and 9to5Google have provided glimpses of how the early versions will OS look. Most of Fuchsia is all placeholders at the moment, but these early looks have revealed how users will be able to navigate their way around the system.

The app home screen demoed by 9to5Google looks a lot like the tabs menu in Apple’s iOS Safari app. While the ArsTechnica showed how the users will be able to toggle between mobile view and desktop view at the click of a button.

Render of how the Fuchsia home screen could look like.

Aditya Dubey

The potential for a new era of app integration across platforms shouldn’t be overlooked, but there’s still a lot of work to be done before Google has a polished product.

How Will Google Fuchsia Work

At the heart of every operating system lies a computer program, known as a kernel. This program controls every aspect of how an OS runs by instructing the central processing unit (CPU) how to process data. Both Android and Chrome OS are based on Linux kernels, while Fuchsia will be based on new microkernel called Zircon.

This will supposedly make it easier for apps to be upgraded over time, making it so certain programs won’t be obsolete when the whole OS is updated.

When Will Google Fuchsia Come Out?

There is no release date for Google Fuchsia. Everything we’ve seen regarding the OS suggests it is still in its formative stages.

Apps for laptops and phones could be seamlessly integrated with Fuchsia.

Unsplash / rawpixel

As it stands it’s more concept than product and it likely won’t be rolled out for at least another few years.

How Long Has Google Fuchsia Been In The Making?

Fuchsia’s existence was first discovered in August 2016, when multiple news outlets caught wind that Google had uploaded its open-source code to GitHub. This discovery prompted a flurry or rumors of when it might be released, all of which turned out to be false. But Google has since shown signs that it is still set on making Fuchsia a reality.

In May 2017, Fuchsia’s user interface was updated to the one we today and its developers reassured interested users that it isn’t a “dumping ground of a dead thing.”

Most recently, in February Google’s former head of Android security moved to the Fuchsia OS team.

The high profile management shift was interpreted as a sign that the wheels are definitely turning. But with no clear launch date in sight, we’ll have to wait until the next I/O conference, likely in May or June, or for more information to slip through the cracks.

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