Google’s long-awaited Fuchsia OS is starting to quietly roll out on its first consumer device, the first-generation Nest Hub, 9to5Google reports. Google’s work on Fuchsia OS first emerged in 2016, and the open-source operating system is notable for not being based on a Linux kernel, instead using a microkernel called Zircon. “You don’t ship a new operating system every day, but today is that day,” tweeted a Google technical lead on the Fuchsia OS project, Petr Hosek.
While the rollout on the Nest Hub (which originally released as the Google Home Hub before being renamed) begins today, the whole release process will take several months. It’ll come to users in the Preview Program first, before slowly releasing more broadly. We’ve known for a while that the operating system has been tested on the Nest Hub, and earlier this month more evidence for a release emerged thanks to a Bluetooth SIG listing that showed the Nest Hub running Fuchsia 1.0.
You don't ship a new operating system every day, but today is that day.— Petr Hosek (@petrh) May 25, 2021
Although the Nest Hub will swap its current Cast OS for Fuchsia OS, 9to5Google notes that the experience is likely to be almost identical, and most users are unlikely to even notice the switch.
All of this raises the question of what exactly Fuchsia OS is meant to achieve. Google calls it a “production-grade operating system that is secure, updatable, inclusive, and pragmatic.” We know that the OS could eventually power laptops and smartphones (Google was spotted testing it on the Pixelbook back in 2018, and more recently it proposed a solution for how it could run Android and Linux apps), but Fuchsia is not meant to be a one-for-one replacement of Android or Chrome OS.
“Fuchsia is about just pushing the state of the art in terms of operating systems and things that we learn from Fuchsia we can incorporate into other products,” Android and Chrome chief Hiroshi Lockheimer said cryptically in 2019. Google’s smart display is unlikely to be the last device or even form-factor to receive an update to Fuchsia OS. But the exact implications for the switch might take longer to emerge.