EMMAs

Google reportedly working on a replacement for Android

Tim Maytom

Google has been stealthily developing a full replacement for its Android mobile operating system for several years, and has plans to roll out the new OS within the next three years, according to report in Bloomberg.

The report, which cites engineers working on the project, claims that over 100 developers have been working on a project, called Fuchsia, that is designed to overcome the limitations of Android as more personal devices come online. The new OS will focus on better accommodating voice interactions, aim for a single cross-device design and UX, and allow for more frequent security updates.

Google has apparently posted elements of the code online, allowing third-party app developers to explore and experiment with it, and the tech giant is already trialing applications for the new OS, including voice commands for YouTube and interactive screen displays.

The push for the new OS was triggered by Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who has directed the firm's focus towards AI services that can connect consumers everywhere. This ambitious goal would require a more robust operating system, and while Android is massively widespread, powering three quarters of the world's smartphones, connecting with scores of hardware partners has also limited how quickly the OS can evolve.

While Fuchsia, or whatever it will eventually be called, has been in development since 2016, neither Pichai nor Hiroshi Lockheimer, senior vice president of platforms and ecosystems at Google, have signed off on a concrete road map for bringing the OS public. With Android supporting dozens of hardware partners and thousands of developers, any move towards a new architecture would have to be slow and well-planned. Add to that Google's recent fine by EU competitions authorities, and there's a whole other layer of regulatory and legal complications to contend with.

Still, the fact that the project has a team of over 100 engineers dedicated to it, including veteran software developers like Matias Duarte, suggests this is more than just a moonshot effort by Google. Fuchsia could well represent the future of mobile and more for the company.