These days, we all take Google’s Android operating system for granted. We just accept that Android is highly capable, customizable, and ubiquitous enough that it is installed on over 70 percent of smartphones sold around the globe. However, could you imagine a mobile landscape without Android? It appears that Google definitely is, and it may be pinning its future on Fuchsia.
We first learned about Fuchsia back in August, when the project was discovered on Google’s GitHub repository. At the time, we learned that this new operating system supports both x86 and aarch64 (ARM 64-bit) architectures and that it isn’t built using a variant of Linux.
Google recently updated its GitHub page for Fuchsia, adding to it the Armadillo user interface. Armadillo was built using Google’s Flutter tool, which is a mobile app SDK used create both iOS and Android apps from a unified codebase.
Since Google has tossed Linux in the trash bin for its latest project, Fuchsia instead makes use of a new microkernel named Magenta. Luckily for us, the folks over at Hotfixit were able to piece together Fuchsia and Armadillo to come up with a functioning piece of software that runs as an Android app (thanks to its Flutter roots).
In the video below, you can see how Fuchsia functions — in its current iteration — using the Armadillo UI.
The first thing that springs into view is a card-based system that immediately brings to mind webOS, which debuted with the now defunct Palm pre. These cards appear to take the place of home screen app icons. The interface in its current state is vertically-oriented, with users scrolling up and down through the cards to navigate through the OS and apps.
When apps are opened, they appear to “hover” over the underlying operating system. The time and battery icons, which are normally at the top of the screen in Android, swap places in Fuchsia, winding up at the bottom of the screen. And as you might expect from a Google product, the Google Assistant is alive and well in Fuchsia.
There’s no question that Android has been a huge success for Google from market share, mind share and financial standpoints. Three out of every four phones sold around the world are based on Android, but it appears that Google is rightfully looking towards the future. An operating system built from the ground-up to cater to mobile devices without any legacy attachments (or legal entanglements) to Linux, Java and GPL is a great next step.
Lest you think that this project will be eventually abandoned by Google, which as a company often seems to lack focus, Fuchsia developer Travis Geiselbrecht stated that the operating system "isn't a toy thing, it's not a 20% project, it's not a dumping ground of a dead thing that we don't care about anymore."
Well, it’s definitely a start…