After years of behind-the-scenes development, Google’s Fuchsia OS is making its public debut on the first-generation Nest Hub. The new operating system, which Google built from scratch, replaces the Linux-based Chrome OS currently found in Google smart displays. You probably won’t notice the change when it happens, but Fuchsia OS is a very big deal.
Unlike Android or Chrome OS, which Google built around the Linux kernel, Fuchsia OS is a unique piece of software built on a new microkernel called Zircon. While we don’t really know Google’s goal for the software, the company has tested it on laptops, phones, and smart displays, a sign that Fuchsia OS could one day become the premier operating system for all Google devices.
Such a move would make the Google ecosystem less fractured, speed up app and software development, and potentially improve the performance of Google products through better software optimization. But if Fuchsia OS becomes Google’s operating system of choice, it will happen very slowly, and the transition may be invisible to the average person.
You don't ship a new operating system every day, but today is that day.
— Petr Hosek (@petrh) May 25, 2021
First reported by 9to5Google, the Fuchsia OS is already rolling out to first-generation Nest Hubs in the Preview Program, and the software experience is identical to Chrome OS. Nothing is out of place and zero features are missing. Ironically, the Nest Hub’s biggest update will also be its quietest.
Switching to a new OS without pulling off a complete UI redesign may seem strange, but Google isn’t trying to throw away its work. Fuchsia OS is natively compatible with Android apps and works with Flutter, the UI toolkit behind software in Nest Hub and other Google products. If rumors are true and Fuchsia finds its way to phones, Chromebooks, and other products, the update may go unnoticed by most people—though such a rollout probably wouldn’t happen anytime soon.
Once the Fuchsia OS update completes its run through the preview program, it will slowly find its way to average first-generation Nest Hub devices. Google hasn’t announced plans to bring the OS to newer Nest Hubs, or any other product, for that matter. It seems that the company is trying to be cautious as Fuchsia makes its debut in the real world.