Android and Chrome OS may be Google’s best-known software ventures, but the company is actually working on a third operating system. It’s called Fuchsia, and when it was first discovered in 2017, it only popped up as a single command line. Now, however, we know a lot more about the operating system.
Fuchsia looks totally different than any other mobile operating system we’ve seen, including Android, but that could be the point. The fact is that there’s currently a ton of mystery surrounding the operating system.
We don’t know what it’s for, if it’s aimed at eventually replacing Android, if it’s just an experiment by Google, or when we should expect to see the new OS at Google I/O.
“What will happen to Android?” is one of the major questions asked of Google’s Fuschia. It’s entirely possible Google intends for Fuschia to replace Android — and that seems even more likely now, as it’s seemingly been confirmed Fuschia will support Android apps.
The news comes courtesy of news sites that noticed a new file had been added to the Android Open Source Project. The file concerns the addition of a special version of ART to Fuschia.
ART — or Android Runtime — would essentially allow Fuschia to run Android apps, making a theoretical swap over to Fuschia from Android rather more painless.
Fuchsia is a little different from Android and Chrome OS in that it’s not based on Linux. Instead, it’s based on a new Google-developed kernel called Magenta. According to Google, Magenta is aimed at “modern phones and modern personal computers,” so it wouldn’t be surprising to one day see Fuchsia appear on our smartphones.
Not only that, but Google has even added Apple’s programming language, Swift, to the operating system — though we don’t know why just yet.
Because Fuchsia is written using the Flutter SDK, which runs on Android, chunks of Fuchsia can be run on an Android device. This version of Fuchsia appears to be called Armadillo, and it completely reimagines the home screen.
The screen, according to testing by Ars Technica, is basically presented as a big scrolling list, with a profile picture, the date, your city, and a battery icon all placed at the center. Above that, you’ll find “Story” cards or a list of recent apps. Below, you’ll see a list of suggestions for you, which acts kind of like Google Now.
Try Fuchsia OS For YourSelf
As of early May, you can actually try out Fuchsia for yourself. SlashGear, in partnership with HotFix Computer Repair, has put together a downloadable Android Package Kit (APK) that you can install on your phone to check out the OS. The APK is kind of like a preview version of a launcher of the alpha version of what’s currently dubbed Armadillo. Armadillo is basically the version code name for Fuchsia, which is the operating system — kind of like Nougat, which is the version name, for the OS known as Android.
Head over to HotFixIt to download it for yourself, but before you do keep a few things in mind. Fuchsia is currently in its very early days, and as such don’t expect to be able to use it as your daily OS. While it should be relatively safe to use on most Android phones, you should generally only download the highly experimental software if you know what you’re doing.
Fuchsia’s user interface and apps are written with Flutter, a software development kit allowing cross-platform development abilities for Fuchsia, Android and iOS. Flutter produces apps based on Dart, offering apps with high performance that run at 120 frames per second. Flutter also offers a Vulkan-based graphics rendering engine called “Escher”, with specific support for “Volumetric soft shadows”, an element that Ars Technica wrote “seems custom-built to run Google’s shadow-heavy ‘Material Design’ interface guidelines”.
Due to the Flutter software development kit offering cross-platform opportunities, users are able to install parts of Fuchsia on Android devices. Ars Technica noted that, while users could test Fuchsia, nothing “works”, adding that “it’s all a bunch of placeholder interfaces that don’t do anything”, though finding multiple similarities between Fuchsia’s interface and Android, including a Recent Apps screen, a Settings menu, and a split-screen view for viewing multiple apps at once.
The second review by Ars Technica was impressed with the progress, noting that things were now working, and was especially pleased by the hardware support. One of the positive surprises was the support for multiple mouse pointers.
Source : Engadget, AOSP, Wikipedia