Fuchsia and Android

We’ve been very closely following the development of Google’s Fuchsia OS with the publicly available information in both the source code and code review. While this is often all we need to take a guess at how Fuchsia is progressing, we almost never see what happens behind closed doors at Google. A new report offers insight on Google’s plans for the open source OS, including upcoming devices and ambitions to replace Android.

The Fuchsia Team’s current plan for the OS, according to Bloomberg, is to first release a voice-controlled speaker in the next three years, followed by other devices like phones and laptops around two years later. This plan certainly lines up with what we’ve seen publicly, including evidence of an in-development smart speaker, codenamed Gauss. Three more years would be an appropriate amount of time for getting Fuchsia’s overall structure fleshed out, secured, and finalized enough to release a screen-less device. Two more years on top of that to get the visual UI polished and ready for primetime.

According to one of the people, engineers have said they want to embed Fuchsia on connected home devices, such as voice-controlled speakers, within three years, then move on to larger machines such as laptops. Ultimately the team aspires to swap in their system for Android […] The aim is for this to happen in the next half decade, one person said.

While this timeline is an exciting prospect, apparently it has not yet been signed off on by CEO Sundar Pichai. Despite this, he is said to be a supporter of the project. His hesitance is not related to belief in the project, but an abundance of caution in relation to rocking Android’s proverbial boat, as there are billions of dollars hanging in the balance.

The majority of that money is found in advertising revenue, which has reportedly led to at least one conflict between the engineering team working on new consumer privacy features and the advertising team working to keep Google’s coffers full.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen in-house disagreements related to Fuchsia. Last month, in a proposed code change to the Android Runtime in support of Fuchsia, two developers got into a minor disagreement about the way Fuchsia-related code should be included in Android. The Android team member saying “unless Fuchsia becomes a first-class platform, the ART team cannot take on the burden of ensuring your code will continue to function or even build.”

This all comes as no surprise. Just as some of the public don’t like the idea of Android being replaced by any OS, so also the tensions must surely run high internally between teams. It seems clear to me that Mr. Pichai must make the company’s plan for the future clear to its employees, if the company is to head in a unified direction.

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About the Author

Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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