Fuchsia OS has been under the radar since its conception in 2016. Five years later, Google has started shipping its homegrown OS to the first-generation Nest Hub.
Given its newness in the market, you might wonder what Fuchsia OS is, its purpose, what devices will run the OS, and if it’s a replacement to the company’s existing operating systems—Android and Chrome OS.
Here’s everything you need to know about Fuchsia OS.
What Is Fuchsia OS?
Fuchsia OS is an open-source operating system created by Google. Fuchsia is the newest operating system on the market, still under active development. Since 2016, news of Google developing a new Operating System called Fuchsia has been slowly trickling to the public.
Fuchsia OS Under the Hood
Fuchsia OS runs on the Zircon kernel, which is also open-source. For the uninitiated, a kernel is at the core of every OS. The kernel is what provides the interface for the computer hardware and software to interact. While the OS provides you with an interface to interact with, among other things, the kernel is what does the heavy lifting.
According to Google:
“the Zircon Kernel provides syscalls to manage processes, threads, virtual memory, inter-process communication, waiting on object state changes, and locking (via futexes).”
Zircon is based on Little Kernel and aims to provide scalability and low resource consumption. It has a microkernel, a set of userspace drivers, services, and libraries required for the system to communicate with hardware, boot, load userspace processes, and much more.
On its existing operating systems, Android and Chrome OS, Google uses the Linux kernel, which currently powers many devices worldwide.
Google is developing Fuchsia OS from the ground up while paying attention to four major guiding principles; security, upgradability, inclusivity, and pragmatism. And since Google is the maker of Android and Chrome OS, it does understand the shortcomings of the Linux kernel.
Fuchsia is written in C++, although the user interface is written in Flutter, Google’s mobile UI framework. Flutter provides developers with an easy way to built cross-platform apps with an identical UI.
What’s the Purpose of Fuchsia OS?
Google says that Fuchsia is meant to fulfill the needs of the currently growing ecosystem of connected devices—the so-called “Internet of things,” or IoT for short.
Compared to Google’s current operating systems, Fuchsia OS may be the missing link for Google to penetrate different areas with a technological presence. As it stands, Google already has separate OSes for laptops, smartphones, smartwatches, and TVs.
Fuchsia OS Supported Devices
For now, Google hasn’t fully outlined which devices Fuchsia will run on. But borrowing some notes from its mission of powering IoT devices, we can get some idea of where it’s heading.
Google makes and sells a number of smart devices under the Nest branding, including smart speakers, smart displays, thermostats, and more. As of 2021, Fuchsia is available on the first-generation Nest Hub replacing Linux-based Cast OS.
Fuchsia OS doesn’t bring any changes to the functionalities on the original Nest Hub, however, let alone the user interface. The only notable differences come with speed, although there are no substantial differences.
With Fuchsia available on the original Nest Hub, Google may be testing the waters to see how Cast OS stacks against their newer OS before rolling out the same on their wider portfolio of Nest devices.
So far, so good. Fuchsia is running fine on the Nest Hub, and the fact that Google was able to replicate the Cast OS functionality without breaking anything is a big step. It’s easy to envision the future of Nest devices running Fuchsia OS.
Will Fuchsia Replace Android and Chrome OS?
To think that Fuchsia will replace Android and Chrome OS in the future is not out of the question. For now, that is a tough call given the huge popularity of those two systems.
Fuchsia is still in its early stages as well, so many of the functionalities available on Android and Chrome OS might not be achieved right now. With time, that might change, considering Google is in full control over Fuchsia.
The OS still has a long way to go before becoming a fully-fledged system. But by introducing Fuchsia on the original Nest Hub, the company is just taking baby steps in its long journey of making the OS a thing on the market.
And, who knows, you might see your future smartphone running Fuchsia OS instead of Android. As for the time it might take to hit your smartphone, the jury is still out.
The Pixelbook, Acer Switch Alpha 12, and Intel NUC mini-PC are listed as official testing devices for Fuchsia. Only time will tell whether this could be a step for Fuchsia to replace Chrome OS eventually.
Fuchsia OS and the Future
Now you have an idea of what Fuchsia OS is all about. The OS is still under “active” development, and certain things will certainly change from time to time. But the main guiding principles of security, upgradability, inclusivity, and pragmatism will be constant.
Remember, if you own the original Nest Hub and want to try out Fuchsia OS, you must enroll to Google’s Home Preview Program for Chromecast and Nest devices.
Join the preview program to preview new features on your Chromecast or Nest ahead of its public release.
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