Google is officially launching a new consumer operating system called Fuchsia. The publication is a little hard to believe at this point, but Google has confirmed the 9to5Google message, and several members of the Fuchsia team have confirmed it on Twitter. The official start date was apparently yesterday. Fuchsia is sure to get a calm, anti-climactic release as it is only available for one device, the Google Home Hub, also known as the first generation Nest Hub. No changes to the user interface or functionality of the Home Hub are expected, but Fuchsia is out there. Apparently, Google just wants to test the operating system in a consumer environment.
Fuchsia’s only boot device was originally called the Google Home Hub and is a 7-inch smart display that responds to Google Assistant commands. It hit the market in 2018. The device was renamed the “Nest Hub” in 2019, and only that first-generation device, not the second-generation Nest Hub or Nest Hub Max, gets fuchsia. The Home Hub’s operating system has always been an odd duck. When the device hit the market, Google introduced an intelligent display hardware ecosystem to partners based on Android Things, a now defunct Internet of Things / kiosk operating system. Instead of following the recommendations to hardware partners, Google instead loaded the Home Hub with its in-house Google Cast platform – and then undercut all of its partners on the price.
Fuchsia and Flutter
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Fuchsia has long been a secret project. We first saw the operating system as a pre-alpha smartphone UI that was ported to Android in 2017. In 2018 we ran the operating system natively on a Pixelbook. After that, the Fuchsia team stopped working outdoors and removed all UI work from the public repository.
There is no blog post or any fanfare whatsoever to celebrate the launch of Fuchsia. Google’s I / O conference was held last week, and the company didn’t look at Fuchsia there either. Really, that ultra-quiet, invisible release is the “fuchsia” release that is possible.
Fuchsia is something very rare in the world of technology: it is an operating system built from the ground up that is not based on Linux. Fuchsia uses a microkernel developed by Google called “Zircon”. Developing an operating system from scratch and bringing it to production sounds like a daunting task, but Google has done just that in the past six years. Fuchsia’s primary app development language is Flutter, a cross-platform UI toolkit from Google. Flutter runs on Android, iOS and the web. So if you’re writing Flutter apps for existing platforms today, you’re also writing Fuchsia apps for tomorrow.
Switching the Nest Hub to Fuchsia is interesting because it should be so invisible. It will be the first test for the future-oriented Flutter app support of this fuchsia – the Google Smart Display surface is written in Flutter, so that Google can take the existing surface, tear out all the Google Cast guts underneath and import exactly the same interface code down on fuchsia. Google watchers have long speculated that this was the plan all along. Instead of having an annoying OS switch, Google could just get Coder to write in Flutter and then seamlessly swap OS out. advertising
So don’t expect a dramatic hands-on post from Fuchsia running on the Nest Hub unless we’re lucky. There’s probably not much to see or do with the new operating system right now, and that’s exactly how Google wants it. Fuchsia is more than just a smart display operating system, however. An old Bloomberg report from 2018 has so far absolutely hit the timing of Fuchsia and says that Google initially wanted to ship the operating system to connected home devices “within three years” – the report will be three years old in July. The report also set out the next steps for Fuchsia, including an ambitious expansion to smartphones and laptops by 2023.
Taking over the Nest Hub is one thing – no other team at Google really has an interest in the Google Cast OS (you could actually argue that the Cast OS is on its way as the latest Chromecast moves to Android). Moving the operating system to smartphones and laptops, however, is an entirely different matter as the Fuchsia team would rush into the Android and Chrome OS departments. Now you’re getting into politics.