What it is: Google is working on a new operating system called Fuchsia but the company isn’t saying what it’s for.
Android is based partially on Linux and was originally designed as a BlackberryOS clone because at the time, Blackberry was the most popular smartphone on the planet. When Apple introduced the iPhone, they quickly changed the smartphone market so Google’s engineers redesigned Android to more closely mimic the iPhone.
However, Google is now developing a new open source operating system called Fuchsia, but they’re not telling anyone what it’s designed for. If it’s designed to be an Android replacement, that would mean Android apps would need to be able to run on Fuchsia for compatibility purposes or else Fuchsia won’t have any apps. That would make its adoption as slim as what Windows Phone went through. If Fuchsia is designed for something else such as for smart home devices, then Fuchsia still needs to maintain some sort of compatibility with Android.
Apple created iOS from macOS and then evolved iOS into watchOS and tvOS, but they’re all similar, which makes getting the different operating systems to work together fairly simple. Compare this with the nightmare that Microsoft created with Windows 10, Windows Phone, and Windows RT, essentially created multiple operating systems that only shared the “Windows” name.
If Google wants to promote Fuchsia, it will initially lack apps. However, Google recently hired Chris Lattner, who used to work at Apple. One of Chris’s creations while at Apple was designing the Swift programming language. Now that Chris works at Google, his job is to integrate Swift into Fuchsia.
Swift running on Fuchsia means all Swift programmers familiar with Apple’s operating systems could easily transfer their code and knowledge to creating apps for Fuchsia. That means in the future, it could be possible to write a Swift program for iOS and then port it to Fuchsia and run it with little or no changes. If Fuchsia replaces Android, that would mean Fuchsia could immediately have Swift support to help developers port their apps from iOS to Fuchsia. Now Fuchsia would suddenly have nearly as many apps as iOS (except for those apps written in other programming languages).
All this means that Swift is the language of the future regardless of the operating system. This also means that if Google adopts Fuchsia as its operating system, what will happen to Android? if Google doesn’t replace Android with Fuchsia, then they’ll be stuck working with Android and Fuchsia, making Google’s efforts more troublesome for the future.
Until we know for sure what Fuchsia is for, we won’t know how its Swift support will work. All we do know is that Fuchsia is Google’s attempt for a modern day operating system that’s likely more secure and reliable than Android. Essentially, Fuchsia could be Google’s version of iOS. If so, then Google will need to replace Android with Fuchsia and that’s sure to cause a huge amount of upheaval among both users and developers alike.
In the meantime, Apple will continue to grow and innovate, which means iOS will likely continue defining the smartphone and mobile market for the near future. Fuchsia may be new, but that doesn’t mean it will get adopted by the masses. All we know for sure is that if Google shifts away from Android, then they better have a more capable operating system to replace it.