The old adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is generally true in the tech world as well. When it comes to finding things that work, tech companies in the past have built systems that worked really well for the time, and held on until the ship went down. Companies like Blackberry prove that it’s hard to innovate when the tech world has already passed you by. But this last week a new user interface (UI) from Google made headlines as a potential and forthcoming replacement for the Android OS (Fuchsia OS). Perhaps Google isn’t an old dog after all.
The Android operating system was built in the early days of Google’s meteoric rise to tech powerhouse. Built originally as an OS for cameras on a Linux platform, and later tweaked to be used as an OS for smartphones, Android has been leveraged by Google across multiple platforms. However, this ‘jack of all trades’ model hasn’t failed Google. The versatility and simplistic brilliance of Android has allowed it to grow into the single most widely used mobile OS on the planet with well over a billion users. The OS, though, has done this because, though it’s piecemeal and patched, it serves the purpose across so many hardware profiles.
The new Fuchsia OS is far more than a simple Android reboot, or an OS update. It’s a complete reworking of the Google system. The key to this rework is a new programming language that is Google native, along with a new kernel (called Magenta) that Google has developed. The company is effectively eliminating any dependence on the Linux system as well as Java and the sordid relationship the two languages have had. Google would effectively bring the entire production, programming and development workload completely in-house, virtually eliminating any third party dependence. To cut this many chords at once an a system that is a billion users wide is a project akin to building the Hoover Dam with soup spoons.
But Google is forging ahead. The reasons for this are obvious. First, the new OS will be Google-centric. Built with Dart (Google’s own high-performance language), Google will be able to provide users with widespread OS updates and maximize the smoothness of it’s interface. The old Android has failed in both these respects. Further, the OS will provide Google with a way to maximize it’s presence on more than just mobile phones and tablets. As the technology changes rapidly, new OS’s are necessary to keep up with the demands of new hardware, and Google will be able to work within it’s own system to keep up with these industry changes.
Fuchsia OS may not be out for a while. It took Google five years to release Android, and it may take that long to get Fuchsia OS up, beta tested, and out. But the key to the whole adventure is that Google, though huge and dominating, is not an old dog. The tech giant seems to be full of new tricks.