This article is from WeChat official account:InfoQ (ID: infoqchina), Author: Hezi Coke, Tina, title picture from: Google

On May 25th, Google took an important step.

After several years of exposure to the R&D plan, Google finally launched Fuchsia OS to the market: Starting from the Nest Hub, Google’s operating system can run on actual consumer devices. According to a 9to5Google report, Google has confirmed to it that Fuchsia OS will be introduced to the first-generation Nest Hub smart display released in 2018. The updated Nest Hub will not have any functional changes, but the bottom of the system will be changed from Linux-based Cast OS to Fuchsia OS.

Petr Hosek, the technical leader of Google’s Fuchsia OS project, celebrated the release of the new platform on Twitter: “Today is an important day, we are releasing a new operating system!”

Nest Hub updates based on Fuchsia OS will be rolled out in the next few months. Considering that the interface and experience will remain unchanged, users may not have direct perception. Since 2016, the development of Fuchsia has been receiving attention, starting from the experimental user interface, and running to some internal test equipment, including all products of Google’s smart home and Chromebook series. Today, Google has announced that it will push Fuchsia OS to users of the original Nest Hub smart display within a few months, indicating that it is ready to provide services on personal devices.

However, Fuchsia is more than just a smart display operating system. A report released by Bloomberg’s (Bloomberg) in 2018 has hit Fuchsia’s release plan so far. It mentioned that Google hopes to “in three years “Inside” first released the operating system on networked home devices. The report also pointed out Fuchsia’s next steps, including plans to expand to smartphones and laptops on a large scale in 2023.

Google has invested hundreds of people on Fuchsia OS. After more than five years of development, Fuchsia OS has begun to attract the attention of other industry giants. Recently, Samsung began to cooperate with Google to develop the project. Many people speculate that Fuchsia OS may completely replace Android and Chrome OS in the future, and Samsung may become the first mobile phone manufacturer to abandon Android and switch to Fuchsia OS.

1. What is Google Fuchsia OS?

Fuchsia is a brand new operating system, and its project positioning has been evolving.

As a new operating system, Fuchsia first appeared on Google Code Repository and GitHub in 2016. The project is completely open source: More importantly, Fuchsia is not based on the Linux kernel, and the Linux kernel is precisely Android(a mobile operating system created by Google) and Chrome OS(Google desktop and laptop operation) core foundation. Obviously, Fuchsia carries Google’s greater ambitions.

Google Android Engineering Vice President DHow ave Burke introduced Fuchsia in an interview in 2017: “Fuchsia is an early experimental project. As you may know, we have planned many very cool early projects at Google. I think the most interesting point is that Fuchsia is directly open source. Everyone can view the results and make comments. Like other early projects, Fuchsia will continue to evolve and change.”

In 2018, Fuchsia developer Travis Geiselbrecht emphasized through the public Fuchsia IRC channel that this operating system is by no means a “toy”, and the situation has become even more confusing. He confirmed that Fuchsia’s development progress has been quite impressive, and that Google developers participating in it are free to explore with interest at will. In his opinion, Fuchsia “is definitely not the kind of garbage project that is used and thrown away.”

Fuchsia stung in the next two years, until 2020 Google promoted again, hoping to attract more software development supporters through the open platform. At the beginning of 2021, the F1 branch of the project was first followed by the F3 branch. With the implementation of important code development steps, Fuchsia’s face and development direction began to become clearer. Facts have proved that this operating system has reached a series of important Development milestones.

Second, what is the meaning of Google Fuchsia OS?

Fuchsia is just a set of kernels. Google may want to use Fuchsia to prove its exploration of the future.

Unlike Linux-based Android or Chrome OS, Fuchsia is built on Zircon(formerly Magenta). The kernel started with C++ code. In order to achieve its security goals, it is now moving towards Rust (now reached 50%) . Google also added support for Swift to Fuchsia a year ago.

The current popular view is that Fuchsia should represent a new operating system, Which will be used to unify Chrome OS and Android under the same system in the future(Such rumors have always existed since 2015) . But according to the documentation, code, and UI that have recently surfaced, this operating system does not seem to be a fusion of Android and Chrome OS, or even a complete operating system. Currently, it is just a kernel project-that is, the core of the operating system.

Google pointed out in internal documents that Fuchsia is mainly targeted at “modern mobile phones and personal computer platforms” that use “high-speed processors” and “low memory capacity.” The document also clearly mentions that “Fuchsia is not Linux”. The names of two top embedded system developers appeared on Fuchsia’s GitHub page, one is a senior software engineer at Google, and the other is a former Android TV and Nexus Q project engineer.

In addition, Armadillo, an early user interface of card design, is built into Google’s Flutter SDK, which is specifically used to create cross-platform code that can run on multiple devices and operating systems. With Armadillo, users can drag different cards at will to split the screen, or use them in a tabbed interface.

At the same time, the core of Fuchsia OS is independent of hardware specifications and uses a modular approach, which means that it will no longer be a lot of code, but will be divided into multiple building blocks or “packages”, and manufacturers can Select the function of Fuchsia according to the device.

Modularity in Fuchsia OS, source: 9to5Google

Another advantage brought by Fuchsia’s modular framework is that it may add new features just by installing updated components. Starting from reality, modularity can not only solveThere may be bugs when the system is updated, and it can also speed up the update speed of the application. This modular approach is essential to the unified experience that Fuchsia provides.

Therefore, there are speculations, In the future, we may see Fuchsia merge with other emerging technologies to develop into a collective, interconnected device system, so that the operating system will not run on each device separately . Instead, this all-encompassing OS can be run as a decentralized instance on each device, and all these instances can work together.

3. Will Google Fuchsia OS replace Android?

The new system can indeed solve many problems in Android. But Android has been fully rolled out, why bother to reinvent the wheel?

Android was originally designed for smartphones with QWERTY keyboards, and then gradually adapted to touch screen control. And there is a saying that Android did not consider virtual reality or augmented reality in its design. Given that it has a history of ten years, if Google wants to meet the challenges of the next ten years, it may be a better way to start designing a new operating system than to modify the Android code.

The fragmentation problem of Android itself is still very serious. Of course, the root cause is that hundreds of devices launched by dozens of mobile phone manufacturers are using different customized Android versions. In addition, since the Android system is an open source project, there are also many conflicts in the update. Google has established an annual update release schedule for Android, but it will take some time before it is really rolled out to the entire ecosystem.

At present, Google can still only deliver the new version of Android to OEM manufacturers and telecom operators, and then install and load it on the target hardware. This system that cannot be directly controlled by Google will inevitably lead to increased fragmentation. In addition, Android is also based on the Linux kernel, which is currently not only facing many legal issues, but the kernel has also undergone a comprehensive adjustment, which greatly increases the possibility of bugs and security vulnerabilities.

Perhaps a new operating system platform can help Google solve all of the above problems, while also effectively avoiding expensive patent licensing costs. Since it was built from scratch, this set of modern operationsThe operating system will be safer, more reliable and more optimized. In addition, the new system can either adopt a modular design or emphasize uniformity to ensure a more comprehensive coverage of all types of equipment. But no matter how we look forward, we all need to answer the core soul torture: Android has been fully rolled out, why bother to reinvent the wheel?

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This article is from WeChat official account:InfoQ (ID: infoqchina), Author: Nuclear Cola, Tina