The Nest Hub Max may soon switch to Fuchsia – Google’s in-house operating system – as internal testing intensifies.
Update: Upgrading Nest Hub Max to Fuchsia is becoming more likely as more evidence emerges.
Earlier this year, Google took the bold step of updating existing first-generation Nest Hub smart displays from their Linux-based Cast OS to the long-in-development Fuchsia OS. This marked the operating system’s official debut, though it was done largely without fanfare, if only to prove that Fuchsia could replace Linux under the hood on some devices without most people don’t notice. The launch wasn’t without its problems, but Google has finally got things under control for Nest Hub owners.
Prior to that debut, we reported that Google had started testing Fuchsia on the Nest Hub. The term “dog food” comes from the phrase “eat your own dog food”, which basically means “prove to customers that your product is good by using it yourself”. Within Google, dog food is usually the last stage of a product’s internal testing before members of the public get their hands on it.
Before dogfood, there are two more testing phases, teamfood and fishfood, both of which involve testing with smaller groups of Googlers. Dogfood, on the other hand, is usually a much larger test, involving Google employees who are not involved in the development of a particular project.
According to a comment on a Fuchsia code change, Google has started testing the Fuchsia OS on the Nest Hub Max – codenamed “Sherlock”. Google has also confirmed 9to5Google that this test started well.
This cherrypick at f6 must occur before ~Sunday 12/19, otherwise we will miss getting the necessary PatternCheckFailed instances of sherlock f6 dogfood from Monday 12/20 to 1/3.
For a quick explanation of what we’re seeing here, an issue has been discovered in the most recent version of Fuchsia – version 6 or “f6” – which appears to be preventing Nest Hub Max devices on the new OS from reporting other potential issues with smart displays during Google holidays. Here, a Googler was trying to put together a fix and roll it out to devices before this break.
The important part here is that dogfood testing has begun, which means the Nest Hub Max could soon be updated to run on Fuchsia, making it the second retail device with the OS. That’s no surprise, as the Fuchsia team has been working on and with the Nest Hub Max since before it arrived.
Updated 01/13/22: A new Google product has appeared in the list of Vulkan-compliant devices and software. Vulkan, for reference, is a cross-platform 3D graphics API used in Fuchsia, among many other places. What’s important here is the listing itself, which lists “Fuchsia” as the operating system, confirming our suspicions that Google is preparing to update another device to Fuchsia or launch a new one with the operating system.
Digging a little deeper, while the product name is “undisclosed”, there’s still a clue in the listing that helps narrow things down. Specifically, the mysterious Fuchsia product is listed as using the “ARM Mali G52” as its GPU. In today’s Project Fuchsia, there are actually only two devices with this particular GPU: the Khadas VIM 3 (a Fuchsia-compatible developer test card) and the Nest Hub Max.
Knowing that Google has already started large-scale internal testing of Fuchsia on the Nest Hub Max, it seems this new Vulkan listing is just one more formality on the way to updating the smart display to use. Google’s latest operating system. That said, it’s worth noting that no such Vulkan listing has ever appeared for the original Nest Hub before or after it was updated to Fuchsia last year.
At this point, there’s no way of knowing how long it will be before retail Nest Hub Max devices update to Fuchsia, if at all. If things follow the model of the original Nest Hub, Fuchsia will first be made available to those in the preview program in the Google Home app.
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