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Grow Your Business Technology

What Google Fuchsia OS Means for Business

Google Pixelbook

Android and Chrome are two of Google's well-known operating systems. They are powerful, mature products many of us use daily to run our businesses. Android runs on smartphones, Chrome runs on Chromebooks, like the Google Pixelbook, and devices made by Acer and Samsung. But those aren't the only two operating systems Google is working on.

A new operating system called Google Fuchsia OS may be the future of computing – at least, if you believe some of the early reports. Experts say the operating system is now capable of running in a limited fashion on the Pixelbook. Further, there are documents available in code repositories to help you write Fuchsia OS development code, if you're into that sort of thing.

Another report from last May presented some screenshots of the user interface, although it's hard to tell if this was just an experiment that leaked or the real thing (or both). The OS uses "cards" similar to Android. The user design paradigm is exactly how it sounds: cards that contain information. The look and feel seems like a weird mixture of Android and Chrome, and it's possible Fuchsia could replace both someday.

But here's what's important about Fuchsia OS: While Google reps did not confirm or deny that this is an early-stage project, it makes sense for Google to work on an in-house, proprietary operating system that is entirely open-sourced (meaning, other users can take part in development efforts) and will run on devices that may not exist yet.

Here's an example. Many popular smart home products run a version of Linux OS that is not exactly available to the masses. You can't download it and run the OS on your phone, for example – at least not without a lot of effort. Yet, what if there was an OS that operated roughly the same on all of those security devices, streaming gadgets, and remotes we use at home?

The same is true in robotics. Today, there isn't a standard OS for products like the Jibo, but Google could make something that is more standard for fringe devices. Fuchsia might be a unifying operating system that is designed for future gadgets.

From a business standpoint, it gets even more interesting. If Fuchsia is not just a future version of Android or Chrome, it may be intended to run on devices like printers, copiers and other business products that use a proprietary (and often hard to understand) user interface. It wouldn't be at all surprising if Fuchsia was for "everything else" beyond phones and gadgets; perhaps an OS for your car that runs similar to Android Auto but with more features.

And then there's the idea of combining a laptop with a smartphone. As we know from devices like the Moto Keyboard for the Moto Z smartphone, there's a push to make your phone seem more like a laptop – something you can use on a plane or in a hotel room to stay productive.

Google may be working on an OS that works on a future device that is a combination of a phone and laptop. It might use a similar fold-out keyboard, allow you to place phone calls easily, run powerful apps like Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Word, and have a fold-out display – a single device that does it all and keeps you productive.

These future gadgets may have different requirements as far as storage, RAM allocations and even how the screen operates (if it is made of a thin film material). Google is likely experimenting with an OS that can handle vastly different user interface scenarios, such as a 4K video conference or high-speed 5G network access.

This is the future of computing, though. Making gadgets easier to use, streamlined, using similar interfaces, offering voice as an option, and reducing the complexity are all goals for the next few years, especially for major tech firms like Google.

What do we really know about Fuchsia OS? Google has not confirmed anything, but we do know they are experimenting with operating systems that will power the gadgets we will use in the future.

John Brandon

John Brandon is a technology expert, business advocate, and columnist. He has written over 12,000 articles in 16 years. His first articles appeared in LAPTOP magazine in 2002.