News around Android, Google and new operating systems like Fuchsia in this case, cause a lot of furore. After all, the development of an operating system is very time-consuming. Who wants to reinvent the wheel today – and Google wants that with Fuchsia partly – must consider many things. But let’s start at the beginning!
Android has many problems
Since its inception, Android has increasingly been struggling with security issues, as opposed Apple. On the one hand, this can be due to the large market share of Android and thus to the large area of attack or design decisions that cause a lot of uncertainty.
Probably the biggest problem is the distribution of Android on devices of many manufacturers. Each manufacturer puts its own stamp on the operating system. As a result, even with a current device, it may take weeks or months for security-critical updates. In some cases, current devices will not receive any updates after one year. If a device is older than two years, the device usually no longer receives any updates. The update problem is not applicable to iOS devices, because there is one software for the devices and one manufacturer, namely Apple.
What makes Fuchsia different?
Fuchsia could solve this and other problems with its modularity. Each manufacturer can offer its own user interface and updates can be installed on the corresponding modules. This does means that the entire operating system does not have to be updated and changed every time but little components, either from the manufacturer or from Google to provide security updates on lower layers. The apps in Fuchsia are likely to have a modular structure and be combined with each other to form individual processes. Fuchsia is also the first operating system in a long time, which is not based on Linux.
Is Fuchsia the future of Android?
Whether Google Fuchsia will really replace Android or only supplement it, is not yet clear. Google is currently very covered on the subject. There is speculation that iOS and Android applications could run in parallel on the new operating system. With the project “ Flutter Google is taking a first step in this direction. Flutter also shows the new “Stories”. These are likely to replace classic apps in Fuchsia and can be modularly combined. They look like “cards” as the following screenshot shows.
Potentially Fuchsia could replace not only Android in the long run, but also Google’s desktop / tablet operating system Chrome OS and run on IoT devices. This would bring Google a step closer towards an “all-in-one” operating system.
In the documentation on Fuchsia, one part is still completely undocumented, but it is very interesting with regards to future technologies. The “Intelligence” section in the documentation suggests that the Google Assistant will be an integral part of the operating system. It is conceivable that the AI predicts which story is most likely to be used next and provides it automatically.
The module ledger is also exciting. Ledger is a distributed store that shares the status of an app across all the user’s devices, allowing a seamless transition from mobile to desktop. This is another indication of Fuchsia’s need to be “always on” to really work. This will probably lead to discussions, because Google is able to collect more user data if a user is always dependent on the online function. Another point of controversy will be the in-depth analysis of utility behavior:
Analyzing user behavior on the device is likely to be done using the tool Cobalt , The privacy of user data is to be ensured, for example by the fact that “memory used by a user” is recorded only once every five minutes. If and to what extent this will actually be implemented will be shown by the first official release of Fuchsia.
How about cybersecurity in Fuchsia
The future will show if Fuchsia will replace the Android operating system. Until then it will be exciting to see Google working on the documentation and codebase. Especially IT security topics, such as cryptography are so far completely unknown and undocumented within the Fuchsia docs.
Google’s recent full-disk encryption concept Adiantum would fit in with Fuchsia’s modular approach and the intention to store data modularly and fast on any device and yet to encrypt it completely. However, this is speculation and confirmed by no source.