Fuchsia looks totally different than any other mobile operating system we’ve seen, including Android, but that could be the point. The fact is that there’s currently a ton of mystery surrounding the operating system. We don’t know what it’s for, if it’s aimed at eventually replacing Android, if it’s just an experiment by Google, or when we should expect to see the new OS at Google I/O.
Now creating a new OS from scratch may sound like a foolish thing to do, especially, with so many OS including Windows Phone failing, one feature that can make Fuchsia a success is its native support to existing android apps.
The GitHub project suggests Fuchsia can run on many platforms, from embedded systems to smartphones, tablets, and personal computers. 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 replacing Android.
Fuchsia is a little different from Android and Chrome OS in that it’s not based on Linux. Instead, it’s based on a new Google-developed kernel called Magenta. According to Google, Magenta is aimed at “modern phones and modern personal computers,” so it wouldn’t be surprising to one day see Fuchsia appear on our smartphones. Not only that, but Google has even added Apple’s programming language, Swift, to the operating system — though we don’t know why just yet.
Because Fuchsia is written using the Flutter SDK, which runs on Android, chunks of Fuchsia can be run on an Android device. This version of Fuchsia appears to be called Armadillo, and it completely reimagines the home screen. The screen, according to testing by Ars Technica, is basically presented as a big scrolling list, with a profile picture, the date, your city, and a battery icon all placed at the center. Above that, you’ll find “Story” cards, or a list of recent apps. Below, you’ll see a list of suggestions for you, which acts kind of like Google Now.
The idea that Fuchsia would replace Android is one that’s been around for a while, and Ars Technica has an interesting take on this. As it notes, Android was built long before the iPhone was released, and was originally intended as an operating system for digital cameras. After the launch of the iPhone, Android was re-purposed for phones, but Google is still stuck to commitments it made with Android many years ago. The company faces a lot of challenges with Android — for example, it struggles to get updates rolled out across the entire ecosystem of devices — and it’s possible that Fuchsia would help to solve some of these issues.
However, it’s likely that abandoning Android is a long way off yet — if it happens at all. Google CEO Sundar Pichai and deputy Hiroshi Lockheimer have yet to sign off on any sort of future plan for Fuchsia, and it’s clear that such a change would be an enormous undertaking. Many huge manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, and LG depend on Android for their phones, making this sort of undertaking exceptionally difficult. However, if Google managed to switch to Fuchsia, the move could be huge for the smartphone world. The Flutter SDK used to code Fuchsia has been able to produce code for Android and iOS apps, so developers could build apps in Flutter to work across all smartphone operating systems.