Report: Google’s Fuchsia to Focus on Privacy

Posted on July 19, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Android, Google with 30 Comments

Google has been working on a new operating system for as long as 2 years. The company’s new OS, internally codenamed Fuchsia, has been under development since 2016. Details on the new OS leaked before, and we even got to see how a very early version of the OS looks. For those unfamiliar: Google is making an OS that can work on different types of devices and adapt to different display sizes with Fuchsia, much like Microsoft’s OneCore initiative for Windows 10.

And now, Bloomberg is reporting some new details on Google’s Fuchsia OS. Privacy is a big focus for Fuchsia. In fact, the OS already includes multiple security and privacy features, with one of the leading security engineers for Android now focusing on Fuchsia. One of the privacy features includes encrypted user keys, which would presumably hide the user’s identity from third-parties. But that’s already caused some internal feud at Mountain View — Google’s advertising department isn’t happy with the engineering department over the security and privacy features of the OS–with the former teaming winning–likely because of Google’s reliance on its ad business revenue.

The company is reportedly focusing on new type of interactions with Fuchsia as well, keeping in line with its ambition for the future of computing. Voice-based interaction is apparently at the core of the company’s new OS, with Google Assistant likely being at the front and center of the OS. It’s unclear exactly how voice-based interaction will be incorporated into the new OS at this point in time, however. The company is also reportedly working on a YouTube app for the system, with integrated voice commands for the company’s video platform.

With more than 100 engineers working on Fuchsia day in day out, combined with support from CEO Sundar Pichai and leading staff like Martias Duarte–known for Material Design–working on the software, Fuchsia is a big investment for the software giant. Engineers working on the software plan to bring Fuchsia to connected home devices within three years, expanding the system to mainstream devices like laptops and phones later on. In the end, though, Fuchsia success will be underpinned by Google’s partners–including phone makers and careers–who played a key role in making Android one of the world’s biggest operating systems.

Fuchsia will ultimately replace Android and Chrome OS, but that’s not happening anytime soon. More interestingly, though: details of Google’s upcoming OS comes just a day after the firm got fined $5 billion over abusing its monopoly power in the smartphone market. Is that a coincidence? I think not.

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Comments (30)

30 responses to “Report: Google’s Fuchsia to Focus on Privacy”

  1. dcdevito

    I don't buy it - "internal feud" - this comes out a day after the EU fine reports....hmmmm........

    • lvthunder

      In reply to dcdevito:

      I would believe if engineers went privacy focused how the advertising department would object. Since advertising is how Google makes it money that side will win the debate.

    • Nicholas Kathrein

      In reply to dcdevito:

      In big companies there are always feuds between what one section of the company want's vs the other. At Apple it's the Marketing Department instead of the advertising department. This EU fine might move Google to charge for it's software which might lower advertising power in the next few years which is how long it will take to work it's way through all the appeals processes.

  2. christian.hvid

    I like this little nugget in Bloomberg's reporting: "Moving from Linux, though, could have upsides for Google. Android’s use of the technology, which is distributed by Oracle Corp., is at the center of a lengthy, bitter lawsuit between the two companies."

    I wonder if anyone told Linus?

  3. RM

    Good, Google can abandoned Android and Microsoft can continue to evolve it through open source, add Android app capabilities to the Microsoft Store. Then Google can work on apps for the new OS.

  4. Mark from CO

    In any event, most likely Google will have this out well before Microsoft's OneCore sees the light of day. Another in the list of Microsoft's well publicized vaporware products that first reach reality by another tech company. A shame...

  5. Daekar

    The fact that the marketing department isn't happy about privacy and security features is reason enough to dump anything with Google's tendrils in it as soon as possible. That's inexcusable in today's threat environment.

    Tell me again why there are only two modern OS vendors in the phone space?

    • Nicholas Kathrein

      In reply to Daekar:

      This is FUD. I want Google to know what I'm doing. It's makes the products better. It's makes the ads I'm going to get be something I might actually want. What's more annoying than ads are ads that don't apply to me. In fact I wish they knew what I bought so that ads of things I purchased wouldn't be following me around after I purchased them. Google is one of the best companies with security of their data. I'm not worried about Google getting hacked. They'd do a better job protecting my data than I can myself. If it's governments or state actors they have the money and people and power to do what ever they want to you. If your a big enough target nothing you do can stop them. They put cameras in you home, and tracking devices on you car. He'll they even kill people with no worries. Let's look at what Russia did to that couple in Europe. That's the one we heard about. There are surely more with "accidents".

  6. skane2600

    As is the case with speculation on the Surface Phone and Andromeda, speculation on Fuchsia seems to be of the everything to everybody variety.

    Also Google might find competing against Android with Fuchsia is just as hard for them as it is for their competitors. Yes, no doubt running Android apps on Fuchsia is already on the "everything" list.

  7. Winner

    Maybe it will be installable on most Android phones, proprietary, run Android apps, and totally blow the EU sanctions out of the water.

    One can dream!

  8. HellcatM

    Android is a monopoly? I know I hate apple and ios, but it is a big selling OS so Android can't be a monopoly. Now a duopoly yes yes, which is why Windows Phone and other OS' were important to be in the market, now they're gone.

    BUT about Fuchsia, it seems promising. I like that its based on privacy. Hopefully it'll have a smaller footprint and up less resources.

    • Demileto

      In reply to HellcatM:

      Android holds 85+% market share in pretty much any country not named United States. How is that not a monopoly?

      • HellcatM

        In reply to Demileto: Android may hold 85% but apple still makes more money and sells tons of ios devices. Its not like the way it was between Microsoft and apple where Microsoft sold 1.5 billion computers and apple only sold a handful compared and made far less money...remember Microsoft had to bail apple out. Now both Google and apple make tons of money so that to me doesn't sound like a monopoly...duopoly yes.

      • Nicholas Kathrein

        In reply to Demileto:

        Anyone can make their own Android phone using the free ASOP software of any current version of Android all the up to 8.

        • christian.hvid

          In reply to Nicholas_Kathrein:

          The EU ruling isn't specifically about Android's market share, but about leveraging Google Play to prop up (or rather, cement) their dominance in search. Like you say, anyone and their dog can build a phone based on AOSP. But without Google Play, it's pretty much dead in the water.

          • Nicholas Kathrein

            In reply to christian.hvid:

            It's not dead in the water because of Google though. It's dead in the water because of developers. They won't support another operating system. They don't have the money or the will. Microsoft could have taken Android ASOP for the last 3 years and came out with their version like Amazon did. Have their own store along with their apps preloaded. Why didn't they? Most likely they see that developers wouldn't have the will to put the apps in their app store. Why? Because it wouldn't be only an upload. Google develops their own tool to help making apps easier to code where you don't have to code every single thing. Google play services is Googles thing that isn't open source that carries the code library's for that and won't work if a developer just uploaded the app they made for the Google Play Store.

            This really comes down to the best things don't always win in the market place and developers carry as much or more power than the platforms. MS again could take ASOP and create a great phone with MS versions of everything from search to browser to app store but they'd need the app devs to make the apps to work with their version of Google Play services and they just won't do it.

            This isn't Googles fault and they should not be penalized for it. What is the goal of this? To take money from Google? I thought it was to make it easier for competition but how does this do that? MS isn't going to say "Thanks EU. Now we can do what Amazon did and make a version of Android that has all our stuff and know that devs will all choose to spend more time making apps for us too." Not going to happen.

            • christian.hvid

              In reply to Nicholas_Kathrein:

              Interestingly, Nokia used to have a line of Android phones that were based on AOSP but with a very Microsoft-y touch. The idea was that these phones would act as a gateway drug to the real deal, i.e. Windows Phone. Unwilling to play by Google's rules, Nokia set up their own app store and paid developers to port their apps. I didn't work out, and Microsoft killed the whole thing immediately after acquiring Nokia.

              IANAL, but I believe that extending monopoly power through leverage is illegal in most jurisdictions, including the US. After all, this was what almost broke up Microsoft in the nineties. That is why Google was penalized, and while we may or may not agree with the ruling, we should be thankful that antitrust regulations exist.

              If Google had offered manufacturers a fair choice - to install Play you must either make Chrome the default browser, or you must pay us a small fee - I don't think we would be having this conversation. And perhaps that will be the model going forward. In that case, it's not unreasonable to think that Microsoft will consider making their own Android version.

  9. jimchamplin

    Google has "decided" to "focus" on "user privacy" in their product that's going to replace Android, which they were found to be using to abuse monopoly power.

    Good thing these friendly and altruistic persons are so good as to offer us some privacy within their gleaming white panopticon.

  10. Awhispersecho

    The minute the words Google and Privacy are used together, every tech writer should immediately disregard and ignore the topic instead of writing about it. Seriously. Google and Privacy are like oil and water and it's absurd to think there is any privacy when using any Google product or service.

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