More than 100 Google engineers have been quietly working on software known as Fuschia, which is planned to eventually replace Android in the next five years, according to a Bloomberg report.
Google began posting open-source Fuschia code online back in 2016, allowing outside app developers to experiment. The aim of the project is to overcome the limitations of Android—such as better accommodating security updates, voice interactions, and consistent screen displays—as users connect with more devices, the report noted.
The company has started testing applications for the system, including interactive screen displays and voice commands for YouTube, according to Bloomberg. However, the ultimate plan will be to create a single OS that can run all of Google's own devices, such as Pixel phones and Google Home speakers, along with third-party devices that currently use Android and Chrome OS.
SEE: Encryption policy (Tech Pro Research)
Bloomberg's sources said that engineers are planning to embed Fuschia on connected home devices within three years, and then move on to laptops and larger machines.
The goal to fully replace Android within five years is ambitious, as the OS currently powers more than 75% of the world's smartphones, compared to Apple's 15%. However, Apple's iOS offers more advanced performance, privacy, and security, along with integration across Apple devices, Bloomberg noted. Apple users also tend to quickly update their phones with new versions of the OS when made available, while less than 10% of Android users do so, Bloomberg noted.
It appears that Fuschia will incorporate tighter security measures: Encrypted users keys are built into the system in the code posted online, which would ensure information is protected each time the software is updated, the report found.
It should be noted that there are no official Google services running publicly on Fuschia as of now. Moving away from Android will also likely take a long time, as many developers and device makers, including Samsung and LG rely on the OS, so Google will not be able to stop supporting it right away. There are also internal concerns regarding security and ad sales: Google's ad business currently relies on targeting users based on location and activity, which Fuschia's security features would likely block, Bloomberg noted.
In the meantime, Android users should be sure to consistently update devices to stay secure. Android P, now out in developer preview, includes a host of new security features and APIs, which could make the OS more appealing for enterprise users.
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- In 2016, Google engineers began working on project Fuschia, which the company plans will replace Android in the next five years.
- Fuschia will likely include tighter security measures and easier ways to update devices.
- Special report: Cybersecurity in an IoT and mobile world (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Here's how Android P promises to protect your privacy (ZDNet)
- Mobile malware: Cheat Sheet (TechRepublic)
- Android Oreo vs Android One vs Android Go: All their differences, explained (ZDNet)
- These Android smartphone OEMs provide the fastest security updates to users (TechRepublic)
Alison DeNisco Rayome has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.