After years of developing an operating system from scratch, Google has now surprisingly made Fuchsia OS available to the public through its Google-made devices, i.e, the first-generation Nest Hub smart display in a new update, reports 9to5Google. Google’s Fuchsia OS (possible Android replacement) first come to public notice in 2016 for not being based on a Linux kernel, and for using a microkernel called Zircon.
Development of Fuchsia since 2016, started from an ambitious experimental UI to running on Google’s many internal testing devices, approaching the full range of Google’s smart home and Chromebook lineup. Since then, the OS has steadily progressed and recently started a steady release schedule.
And as spotted by 9to5Google, Google has announced that an update will roll out to owners of the first-generation Nest Hub, which was first released in 2018. For a fact, this update will not affect the functionality of the Nest Hub, but inside, this update will swap “Fuchsia OS” with its current Linux-based “Cast OS”. Practically, the experience with the Nest Hub should be identical. This is made possible because Google’s smart display experience was built using Flutter, which is designed to consistently bring apps to multiple platforms, including Fuchsia.
The Fuchsia-based update for the Nest Hub will roll out gradually over the course of the coming months, starting with those in the Preview Program, before becoming more widely available.
As the interface and experience will be unchanged, it’s unlikely that Nest Hub owners would even notice they’ve been switched over to Fuchsia OS. That being said, Google appears to be moving carefully with this rollout, while moving over the course of months, as switching operating systems is not a simple update.
All of this makes us wonder about what exactly Fuchsia OS is meant to achieve. Google calls it a “production-grade operating system that is secure, updatable, inclusive, and pragmatic.” While we know that the OS could eventually power laptops and smartphones, but Fuchsia is not meant to be a spot-on replacement for Android or Chrome OS.
Android and Chrome chief Hiroshi Lockheimer said in 2019 that “Fuchsia is about just pushing the state of the art in terms of operating systems and things that we learn from Fuchsia we can incorporate into other products”. Google’s smart display is most likely not the last device to receive an update to Fuchsia OS. That said, the smart home is just one of the many avenues that Google has explored for Fuchsia.
“It’s not just phones and PCs. In the world of IoT, there are increasing number of devices that require operating systems and new runtimes and so on. I think there’s a lot of room for multiple operating systems with different strengths and specializations. Fuchsia is one of those things and so, stay tuned,” said Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google SVP of Android, Chrome/OS, Play, and Photos