Google has released two main operating systems out into the world, and both of them have found success. The first is obviously Android, which is currently the most widely used mobile operating system on the planet. As of May of last year, Android counted more than 2 billion monthly active users across smartphones, tablets, and other devices. By contrast, Apple counts about half that across all of its platforms, including iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. And beyond Android, Google has the Chrome OS platform that has become increasingly popular on laptops in recent history, particularly in the education space where value is the primary concern.
Of course, no platform stays on top forever. Just ask Nokia how its once-dominant Symbian smartphone platform is doing these days. Google is always thinking about the future, and it has a mysterious project in place that just took an interesting turn. A very early version of Fuchsia OS, the new open source Google platform we first learned of last spring, was just quietly released to developers.
We first learned of Google’s Fuchsia OS back in May 2016, and at the time we had no idea what Google’s intentions might be for the new platform. The bad news is that we still have no idea what Google intends to do with Fuchsia. But the good news is that we should learn plenty more about it in the coming weeks and months now that Google has released a new version of Fuchsia to the developer community.
To rewind for a moment, Fuchsia is a brand new mobile operating system that is being built from the ground up. Where as Android and Chrome OS are built on Linux kernels, Fuchsia is built on Google’s own Zircon kernel. It even uses Google’s in-house programming language, so the platform is 100% Google from top to bottom. As for what Google has said about the platform publicly, this snippet from Google’s vice president of Android engineering Dave Burke is just about all we have to go on for the time being:
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 its open source, so people can see it and comment on it. Like lots of early-stage projects, it’s gonna probably pivot and morph.
You can see a video of a very early version of Fuchsia in action on a smartphone right here, but this new build that was just released is intended solely for Google’s Pixelbook.
Chrome Unboxed was first to report that the new Fuchsia build had been made available to developers, and the blog offers some insights into exactly what Google released. Make no mistake, this is am extremely early build of the OS and it’s definitely meant solely for the developer community. It takes two machines just to install Fuchsia on a Pixelbook, and you won’t even know what to do with it once you get it installed unless you’re a programmer.