Every few months we hear a little bit more about Google’s not-so-secret Fuchsia operating system. The project is open source, and first became publicly available on GitHub in August 2016.

Google didn’t bother announcing Fuchsia, but it has talked about the project a few times. After all, it is being developed in the open, although its importance is often blown out of proportion.

Bloomberg yesterday reported that the Fuchsia team, which now counts more than 100 engineers, has a main goal: create a single operating system that could replace Android and Chrome OS, as well as power all of Google’s smart home hardware. There’s even a timeframe: launch a connected home device powered by Fuchsia within three years and replace existing operating systems on larger devices like laptops and phones within five years.

Let’s make something crystal clear. Fuchsia is not going to replace Android or Chrome OS in five years, just like Google isn’t looking to merge Android and Chrome OS. These timeframes are merely goals — big targets to work toward, but not necessarily achieve.

At least, that was my initial reaction to the report. The company has indicated as much, though that is completely expected.

“Fuchsia is one of many experimental open source projects at Google,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “We’re not providing additional details about the project at this time.”

Instead of becoming Google’s shiny new operating system that replaces all its predecessors, it’s much more likely that the company will use bits and pieces of Fuchsia. That could mean actual code, design concepts, and user interfaces, but more importantly, learnings from building an operating system from scratch.

There’s precedence for this approach — Microsoft Research’s Singularity OS was developed between 2003 and 2010. It ultimately went nowhere.

I’m not saying Fuchsia OS is dead on arrival. I’m merely saying, don’t hold your breath.

One of Bloomberg’s sources describes Fuchsia as “a senior-engineer retention project.” That makes plenty of sense — 100 engineers is laughable when it comes to building an operating system. But that’s still 100 engineers working, learning, and developing what an operating system can be at Google, rather than at Apple, Microsoft, or even Amazon.

Fuchsia is an experiment, until Google says otherwise.

In the meantime, you can check out Fuchsia’s detailed documentation or try it yourself over here.

ProBeat is a column in which Emil rants about whatever crosses him that week.


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