Google’s Fuchsia operating system has taken a step further to be widely usable by gaining the full experience of the Google Chrome browser.
We’ve been following Fuchsia’s development for years, from a bold UI on phones and the Pixelbook, to a more streamlined experience, finally launching on the Nest Hub. At that time, it was difficult to recommend anyone to use Fuchsia as their main operating system, since it is still very early and lacks basic features like a proper web browser.
It’s been possible to access the web in a very limited way on Fuchsia for some time now through the operating system’s “Simple Browser” application – which was powered by the Chromium engine under the hood. Although usable, this “browser” did not offer the usual necessities like an address bar or tabs.
In the middle of last year, we reported that Google had started making efforts to bring the full Chrome browser experience to Fuchsia. First spotted by oldschool-51 of the Fuchsia Reddit community, these efforts have come to fruition in recent days, with Simple Browser replacing Fuchsia’s app list with “Chromium.”
For those unfamiliar, in addition to being the name of Chrome’s main browser engine, Chromium is also the name of the fully open source version of the Chrome browser (meaning it lacks integrations with some services google.)
As you’d expect, launching the Chromium app brings up the all-too-familiar Chrome design on the desktop. Due to some issues on my personal laptop, I wasn’t able to get things fully online, but otherwise the browser looks and works almost exactly as it would on Windows, Mac, or Linux. I say “almost” because there are still a few bugs to fix, such as context menus opening entirely off-screen and some bugs with multiple windows.
While Fuchsia has managed to successfully launch into the smart home, it was said by a Googler last year that “for all intents and purposes, Fuchsia is a desktop platform.” An IoT device like the Nest Hub can get by without much web access, but Chrome (or any other full-featured browser) is a necessity for desktops and laptops. With any luck, the arrival of Chromium could be an indicator of Fuchsia’s future beyond the smart home. Google has already suggested as such in a job listing.
Looking ahead, Google’s Chrome team is already working on experience improvements on Fuchsia. For example, work is underway to make it possible to open PDF files on Fuchsia devices. Clearly, Google intends for the Fuchsia version of Chrome to eventually be as good as other platforms.
If you want to try out Fuchsia for yourself, including its newly added web browser, the developer team behind dahliaOS (a fork of Fuchsia) offers a simple download to get the Fuchsia emulator up and running on your device. According to one of the developers, this package should be updated in the next few days to a newer version of Fuchsia, which will have Chromium out of the box.
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