Remember Fuchsia OS? Granted, there’s not really that much to remember, since Google has mostly been keeping the project under wraps. Well, senior vice president of Android and Chrome Hiroshi Lockheimer finally broke the silence at the last Google I/O.
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. Fuchsia is 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.
We’ll admit that’s a bit of a bummer and not exactly the development most of us were hoping for. Still, any information is better than no information. Plus, even without any clear possibility of a public Fuchsia release on end-user devices, we can at least put the myths of an imminent Android or Chrome OS re-write to rest, or at least on hold for now. Instead, we can focus on the really cool and forward-thinking aspects of the Fuchsia project. This clearly seems to be Lockheimer’s current mindset as well:
It’s not just phones and PCs. In the world of [the Internet of Things], there are 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.
And if you still find yourself wondering what this Fuchsia OS business is all about, here is a tl;dr. Fuchsia originally surfaced online back in 2016 as a mysterious open-source GitHub project that had no official announcement affiliated with it on Google’s end. It is a Google-developed OS that, unlike Android, isn’t based on a Linux kernel, but rather a microkernel called “Zircon”. The OS is really scalable, suitable for use on embedded systems, smartphones, tablets, as well as PCs. It’s UI, or at least what has been seen of it on certain early test devices, like the Pixelbook is written using Flutter, with apps based on Dart, offering high performance and impressive graphical fluidity. Flutter can successfully attain smooth UI performance at 120 fps and also includes a Vulkan-based rendering engine called Etcher.
If this is enough to spark an interest in the tinkerers among you, you can apparently run Fuchsia in the Android Studio emulator, getting the code straight from the repository and mixing in a few Android AOSP bits. There is a really nice guide you can follow here. And, naturally, we’ll be sure to keep an eye on any future developments with this ambitious Google experiment.
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