Mobility

Google Fuchsia: A very, very early first look

Google's next gen operating system, assumed to be a replacement for Android, has been mostly mysterious. The UI exists, though, and one intrepid coder has delivered a demo.

If you follow news related to Google or Android you've probably heard of Fuchsia: It's the rumored mobile OS from Google that's going to merge Android and ChromeOS into one new system.

We've known for a long time that Google was ditching the Linux kernel of Android for Magenta, a "microkernel" they've built themselves. What we haven't known until recently was the look and feel of Fuchsia, which Kyle Bradshaw of Hotfix.net just revealed to the world.

Fuchsia's UI is called Armadillo, and it's vastly different from anything you've seen before.

The Armadillo emerges

If you want to try Armadillo for yourself you can install it as an app by downloading the APK that Bradshaw compiled. Don't get too excited, though: It's a very rough demo that even Bradshaw says only "demonstrates what Fuchsia might look like." (emphasis added). All you're getting is a basic look at Fuchsia's layout and behavior.

Instructions are also included on Hotfix.net for those who want to compile the APK themselves using the publically available Fuchsia GitHub repository, which contains everything you need to build a working Armadillo app.

SEE: Could Google's new mystery OS 'Fuchsia' replace Chrome and Android? (TechRepublic)

Fuchsia appears, at this point, to involve swiping up and down from a central homescreen. Stories and apps are reached by swiping down, while search and suggestions are reached by swiping up.

Stories, as stated in Fuchsia's GitHub documentation, are "apps and/or modules that work together for the user to achieve a goal." The only named app displayed in the Story list right now is email, and there's no way of knowing how access to other apps will work at this point.

It's worth a download, if only to see what the future of your Google-powered mobile device (and Chromebook) may look like.

Is the future looking Fuchsia?

zdnet-fuchsia.png
Image: ZDNet

Google has been a bit mum on actual Fuchsia details, but we do know its purpose. It's designed for "modern phones and modern personal computers with fast processors, non-trivial amounts of RAM with arbitrary peripherals doing open-ended computation."

That's a bit of a mouthful, but it essentially means it's intended to be THE future OS for current Google-powered devices like smartphones and laptops.

If you're not crazy about Armadillo it's time to start hoping Google is still experimenting. If not you're going to have to get used to this new, card-based, minimal operating system.

Luckily, you may not have to wait long to find out what Google intends: Google I/O 2017 is happening in a week's time and Fuchsia could take center stage. There's no mention of Fuchsia or Armadillo in the I/O schedule, though there are several events centering around Magenta (the Fuchsia microkernel) and Flutter (the language used to build the Armadillo UI).

Fingers crossed.

The three big takeaways for TechRepublic readers:

  1. Google's mysterious new OS, Fuchsia, has a user interface, and it's been compiled into an APK for interested parties to play with. Called Armadillo, all of its components are available in the Fuchsia GitHub repository.
  2. The APK isn't an official Google release and only offers the barest of features. It's radically different from other mobile operating systems currently in existence, opting for a Google Now-esque card interface rather than a homescreen with apps.
  3. Google I/O 2017 is a week away, where it's possible we may see an official announcement of Google's plans for Fuchsia.

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About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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