Fuchsia, Google’s mysterious new OS, is making its way to more and more Nest devices, and if you happen to own the original Nest Hub, your display might already be running on Fuchsia, even if you don’t know it.
What’s so special about Fuchsia? It’s an open-source, long-in-development operating system that’s been percolating in Google’s development lab for years.
Crucially, Fuschia isn’t based on the Linux kernel, as are Google’s two other big OSes, Android and Chrome. Instead, it’s based on Zircon (formerly Magenta), which (as we detailed back in 2016) is a “combination microkernel” and “a set of user-space services and hardware drivers.” Magenta also packs Escher, a “physically based renderer” that allows the OS to generate graphical user interfaces.
Fuchsia has long been an object of fascination for Google watchers, namely because little is known about its purpose. There has been speculation that Google is teeing up Fuchsia as an eventual, unified, and non-Linux based replacement for Android and Chrome OS, although Google is staying mum on that point.
Back in May, we got word that Google was rolling out Fuchsia to Nest Hub displays enrolled in Google’s Preview Program, and now 9to5Google reports that the OS has begun to arrive on non-Preview Program Nest Hubs, too. We’ve yet to hear when Fuchsia may arrive on the second-gen Nest Hub or the Nest Hub Max.
So, can you tell that your Nest Hub is running on Fuchsia just by looking at it? Not really. The Nest Hub interface looks the same powered by Fuchsia as it does when running on the Nest Hub’s older, Linux-based OS (which, incidentally, is called Cast OS). 9to5Google even ran a series of tests on a Fuchsia-powered Nest Hub and found that the updated display performed more or less the same as the original.
Also, the Fuchsia update won’t arrive with any flourishes, nor will you need to do anything to initiate the update. Instead, your first-gen Nest Hub will—at some point, if it hasn’t already—download the update silently, then reboot itself to install it.
All that said, there is an easy way to find out whether your Nest Hub is now running on Fuchsia: Dig into its settings.
How to check if your Google Nest Hub is running on Fuchsia
- Swipe up from the bottom of the screen, then tap the Settings button (it’s the one that looks like a gear).
- Tap Device information, then tap Technical information on the next screen.
- You’ll now see details such as your Nest Hub’s current IP address as well as its software version and Cast Firmware version. The key entry, though, is Operating System Version; if you see that heading, your Nest Hub is running on Fuchsia. Don’t see the heading? Sorry, your Nest Hub hasn’t received the Fuchsia update yet. Sit tight.