Fuchsia gives Android the Cut Direct

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The ever increasing demand for better processing speed led to the advent of Real Time Operating Systems (RTOS) during the 1980s. While General-Purpose Operating Systems (GPOS) provide superior functionality to manage processing of huge amount of data, RTOS provides more responsiveness, determinism, portability, scalability and processing support. RTOS… (Featured image is for representational purpose alone and has been sourced from https://www.pexels.com/photo/office-working-app-computer-97077/)

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The ever increasing demand for better processing speed led to the advent of Real Time Operating Systems (RTOS) during the 1980s. While General-Purpose Operating Systems (GPOS) provide superior functionality to manage processing of huge amount of data, RTOS provides more responsiveness, determinism, portability, scalability and processing support. RTOS is commonly used in embedded systems such as robotics, cameras, complex multimedia animation systems and communications.

Let’s consider a new turn-by-turn navigation app. The app will have a waypoint shown in the field of view, with an arrow pointing to the next waypoint. The app has to ‘stick’ in a virtual location that corresponds to a physical one. This is not possible with existing Android APIs. It appears that Google plans to create a new API for this purpose and a whole new operating system.

Google’s Fuchsia is an open source lightweight RTOS that the software major is exploring. It is being developed on a non-Linux platform called Magenta. Magenta, compared to other Microkernels, provides additional features such as first class user-mode support, an object-handle system and a capability-based security model.

Google wants RTOS to reduce system processing time and predict latency. It will treat Fuchsia like Samsung treats Tizen, a lightweight OS used on hardware which is not suitable for a full-blown Android. Google is working on embedded hardware such as OnHub router and Google Home. Fuchsia might be a part of such development. It also seems logical for Google to create a new OS based on open standards for better industry acceptability. It is possible that Google might just be aiming to provide a single “IoT standard” for compatible devices to rely on.

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Ever since the first code for Fuchsia appeared on the internet, tech enthusiasts and coders across the globe are tinkering with its inner workings. One such technologist, Kyle Bradshaw, used the Fuchsia UI code to run UI on the smartphone on Hotflix. Known as Armadillo user-interface, the UI provides unique features to a tablet-based interface such as a split screen, newly styled suggestion panels, power controls, drag and drop functionality, a keyboard with the custom Fuchsia interface and story cards.

Since Fuchsia is still under development with no consumer level distribution or installation, everything needs to be built from its raw source code. The use of Dart scripts to build apps based on Flutter SDK opens up Fuchsia for IoT, AR/VR and AI applications. Fuchsia also supports graphics rendering through Escher and can run on multiple platforms such as Raspberry Pi3 and x86/IA-64. The use of Mojo type runtime features extensive language support including C/C++, Dart, Go, Java, Python and Rust.

Since there is no official statement on Fuchsia’s development, speculations are rife about Google’s reasons to develop an operating system from scratch using a lightweight, non-Linux kernel.

A few possibilities include:

Greater Control Google is developing Fuchsia as an in-house OS using its own Flutter software development kit. Applications developed with Flutter are written using the Dart programming language, a proprietary version of the JavaScript language that Google has developed to create high-performance mobile apps. This will allow Google to enjoy greater control over licensing behind its distribution agreements.

Virtual/Augmented Reality Escher, combined with Fuchsia, can be used to build a UI layer for Google’s Material design language. Dart is the language for GUI apps; Flutter provides widgets; Escher renders layers; and the underlying application framework is Mojo. This makes it easy for Google to build upon AR displays and other similar 3D environments.

Replacement for Android and Chrome OS – Magenta is meant for embedded systems, for devices such as a router or a watch. Google’s documentation states that Magenta supports smartphones, PCs, user modes, graphics rendering and a capability-based security model (not supported in Linux). This indicates that Google might have Material Design in mind or that it aims to replace Chrome OS and Android with Fuchsia one day.

Tackle Competition by Innovation – Commercially Fuchsia may be developed to compete with the rising number of specialized lightweight systems that operate in a space between a full platform and an RTOS such as VxWorks, ARMs mBED OS, Tizen OS, Lite OS and other open source alternatives.

Ride on Android – An article from Wireless Watch states that Fuchsia could conceivably be the basis of something like Android 7.0, or rather the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) component that underlines the OS itself.

Google Fuchsia Server – The least likely possibility is that Fuchsia might be focused on Google’s server needs. Google uses oodles of Linux in its server environment, along with a lot of specialized stuff. Fuchsia might be used as a core element of Google’s plans for server space in the future. Fuchsia can make Google’s servers hum along better and faster with greater reliability.

Fuchsia indicates a new wave of inventions for future smartphones and IoT. It may be a new server OS, an OS for the evolving IoT space or simply Google’s attempt to create something big – yet, it shows promise to usher in related bigger revolutions.

Prakhar Singhal
Prakhar Singhal

Prakhar is a tech geek who pursues technology with passion and enthusiasm. When not eyeing the latest technology, he enjoys playing cricket and basketball.


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