Google developing Fuchsia, a new OS that may replace Android

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Google has been developing a new open source operating system called “Fuchsia” for smartphones, tablets and other devices, which could be unveiled as early this September. Little has been revealed about the new OS since it first came to light last year.

Fuchsia will apparently move Google away from its long association with Linux as it is based on a new microkernel called “Magenta.”

Google plans to dump not only the Linux kernel but also the General Public License, one of the most popular licenses in the free and open source software universe. The default user interface for Fuchsia, called “Armadillo,” is based on the mobile app Flutter’s software development kit and split into two separate apps — Armadillo and Armadillo user shells.

Inspection of the code posted on GitHub shows its capability to run on universal devices, including “dash infotainment systems for cars, to embedded devices like traffic lights and digital watches, all the way up to smartphones, tablets, and PCs. This could be a game changer in software development as google seeks to increase its dominance in the tech industry.

The Fuchsia team reportedly includes Travis Geiselbrecht, who worked on the Danger Hiptop smartphone, NewOS, Jawbone, BeOS and other projects; and Brian Swetland, who worked on Danger and BeOS. Both previously worked on Android as well.

Google’s rationale for Fuchsia may be related in part to an epic US$9 billion legal battle between Google and Oracle. “As the Oracle case revolves around the copyright of Oracle APIs used in Android, it could be a contributing factor in Google’s decision to build another platform,” said Stofega, a tech analyst.

While Google emerged victorious in a ruling last year, the case has sent a chill through the open source community. It’s conceivable that Google decided to move further away from the use of Linux to avoid future legal challenges. It’s also possible that Google simply recognizes the need to move to an OS that works better across multiple platforms.

“There’s been a lot of discussion, as it relates to going from TV to smartphones and Chromebook,” Stofega said.

“At the end of the day, as the world has changed and not necessarily become PC-centric but just mobile-centric, maybe some of the things that brought it to fruition in terms of the Linux-based OS can no longer be part and parcel of the new world,” he remarked.

The main issue is that the Linux community did not have a user experience in mind and could not agree on a single, unified user experience as it matured. Fuchsia may still be a command line interface, but it’s clearly being designed with all of the integrated services needed to support a modern UX.

Google may be building a real-time OS that spans small connected things to large connected data centers, one code base that can be pared back if the UX isn’t needed, but also scales to varying U.S. requirements.

“The development of the new OS is driven in part by security concerns that potentially could cost Google billions of dollars if they aren’t brought under control,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. “They want to better control both the quality and timing of updates to their OS. While Linux got them to market quicker, they now feel complete control is far more important.

Google has however denied that the new OS will replace Android. “Fuchsia is an early-stage experimental project. We, you know, we actually have lots of cool early projects at Google. I think what’s interesting here is it’s open source, so people can see it and comment on it. Like lots of early stage projects, it will probably pivot and morph. There’s some really smart people on it, people we’ve worked with who are great. and so, kind of exciting to see what happens. But it’s definitely a diff– sort of independent project to Android. and yeah, that’s basically it,” said Google’s VP of engineering for Android, Dave Burke. To get a feel of how the new OS works you can download the apk file from here

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Melissa Daniels
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