In the past few months, especially during Google I/O, we’ve learned a great deal about Google’s Fuchsia OS and the types of devices it’s currently expected to run on. While Hiroshi Lockheimer urged fans to consider the possibility that Fuchsia may not necessarily be for smartphones, new evidence has come to light indicating that the Fuchsia team is working to support the Snapdragon 835 processor, found in phones like the Google Pixel 2.
Two years ago, our first real look at Fuchsia’s UI came from a demo app available for Android. Seeing that the Fuchsia team, at that early stage of development, was considering mobile devices and preparing a UI, it seemed likely that Fuchsia could be a successor to Android. A report from Bloomberg further alleged that Fuchsia would replace Android within five years.
However, up to this point, the overwhelming majority of hardware supported by Fuchsia has been IoT devices like the Google Nest Hub and more traditional computers like the Google Pixelbook. The only Android-related exceptions, the Honor Play and the Pixel 3 XL, were created by third parties, not Google itslef.
A new commit, posted last night to the Fuchsia Gerrit source code management, is set to change all of that. The commit, created by the same Fuchsia team member responsible for most currently supported hardware, is labeled to bring “Initial support for msm8998.” This may not sound familiar, but it’s actually the name of the processor portion of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC.
It’s somewhat strange that they’ve chosen to support the Snapdragon 835, as the chip is now two generations behind. Thus far, many of the chips in devices Google has developed Fuchsia support for had not even hit the market when development began. Perhaps supporting the Snapdragon 835 will act as a stepping stone toward newer chips like last year’s Snapdragon 845 or this year’s Snapdragon 855.
In any case, there’s no way to know for sure what device Google’s Fuchsia team is intending this Snapdragon 835 support to be used for just yet. The only other clue in the code is that our mystery device has 4GB of RAM. This lines up perfectly with the most obvious Snapdragon 835 phone for Google to bring Fuchsia to, the Pixel 2, but also matches a handful of other devices like the Galaxy S8 and the Essential Phone.
That being said, don’t expect to be running Fuchsia on your Pixel 2 (or other Snapdragon 835 phone) any time soon, unless you’re a hardware development expert. For the time being, according to the commit message, only the internal serial console is supported. This means important aspects of a smartphone like the display and the touch screen don’t work yet.