It’s not based on Android, the California-based technology company’s mobile operating system used in billions of smartphones around the world, nor does it build upon the Linux kernel.
The GitHub page is pretty sparse on explainers: Its description is simply, “Pink + Purple == Fuchsia (a new Operating System).”
There has been no official announcement from Google, and it sounds as if the open-source project is in its early days. “The decision was made to build it open source, so might as well start there from the beginning,” Google employee Brian Swetland said in an IRC chatlog shared on Hacker News.
“Things will eventually be public, documented, and announced, just not yet,” another person said. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Business Insider.
We then come to the billion-dollar question: What is Fuchsia actually for?
Short answer: We don’t know, but there is already plenty of speculation.
The tech blog Android Police, which was one of the first to report on the existence of the OS, thinks it might have applications in the Internet of Things. Linux (and Android) isn’t ideal for a lot of uses that don’t involve traditional computers; as wider technology becomes increasingly linked to the internet, it makes sense that Google would make a play with its own operating system, just as it did (with great success) in mobile.
It is worth noting that Fuchsia isn’t limited to the IoT: Android Police took a look at the OS’s documentation, and noticed that its “Magenta” kernel is designed to work on as varied systems as “embedded devices,” mobile devices, and desktop computers.
Some users on Hacker News (with little hard evidence) are guessing that it might be used for augmented reality. “You want an RTOS for loss and predictable latency. And current GUIs aren’t really suited to 3D environments you can walk around inside,” Ansible speculates. “This is Google’s next Android, with a low latency rendering pipeline for the next generation of mobile devices.”
It’s also possible that Google will use it to replace and unify Android and Chrome OS, the company’s two operating systems that run on mobile and laptops respectively. Over at PC World, Nick Mediati explores this idea: “One possibility I see is where Google uses Fuchsia instead of Linux as the underpinnings for next-generation versions of Chrome OS and Android. That is, both would use some form of Fuchsia — or the Magenta kernel — as the underlying basis of the two operating systems (as well as the operating system for other Google devices such as the Chromecast).”
Fuchsia could be nothing, an interesting project from Google employees that never makes it to a commercial release.
Or it could be the seeds of Google’s next major play: a unification of its existing operating systems and a push into the next generation of computing platforms.
One thing we know for sure is that it’s worth watching closely.