Is Google Developing a New OS?


Does Google have a new operating system in the works?

Although the search-engine giant has yet to formally announce the OS, codenamed “Fuchsia,” its developers have begun posting the relevant code on GitHub as well as its own code repository. “Pink + Purple = Fuchsia (a new Operating System)” reads the slogan on GitHub.

Google already has Android, its operating system for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, and Chrome, its OS for PCs. So what role will Fuchsia play in Google’s software ecosystem? That’s a good question, with a couple possible answers.

After picking through the Fuchsia code, The Verge suggested that the operating system will power embedded systems, likely making it an OS for the Internet of Things. The publication based that hypothesis on Fuchsia’s reliance on Magenta, a micro-kernel designed for use with embedded systems.

Other publications have speculated that Fuchsia is the beginning of a new virtual-reality platform, although that would contrast somewhat with Google’s existing plan to have Android power its VR apps.

Last (but certainly not least) is the theory that Fuchsia is intended to eventually unite Chrome and Android into a unified environment capable of operating on a wide range of devices—similar in some ways to what Microsoft is doing with Windows 10, which can run on devices and screens of all sizes. Rumors have circulated for years that Google eventually intends to merge its platforms together, although the company has remained characteristically tight-lipped on that particular subject. Certainly an operating system that combined the best elements of both Chrome and Android would prove a powerful competitor in the OS wars.

There’s also the possibility, however remote, that Fuchsia is simply a bunch of Google engineers tinkering with code, and that the software is never intended to reach production.

Whatever the case, the speculation over Fuchsia has hinted at a rising need for new operating systems that can effectively deal with virtual reality, the Internet of Things, and other emerging technologies. In some ways, it’s reminiscent of the rise of the mobile market a decade ago, when new form-factors and use-cases demanded the creation of iOS and Google Android. Nonetheless, it could still be quite some time (if ever) before Google actually reveals what it’s doing with Fuchsia.