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Report: Google's new Fuchsia OS could replace Android -- or not

Update: CNET has learned there's no five-year plan for Fuchsia just yet.

Fuchsia, Onagraceae, Vescovana, Veneto
A Fuchsia flower.
DEA/V. Giannella via Getty Images

It's no secret that Google has been quietly working on Fuchsia, a new experimental OS for tablets and phones.

Here's the secret, according to a Bloomberg report Thursday: Fuchsia could replace Android and Chrome OS within the next five years. 

Mind you, that's just the ambition, according to the report -- and Google disputes that specific part; CNET understands there's actually no five-year plan yet. Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Android/Chrome boss Hiroshi Lockheimer reportedly have yet to sign off on any road map. In a brief statement, Google said Fuchsia is just "one of many experimental open-source projects" at the company, but declined to comment further.

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The Fuchsia team's own engineers seem to believe they can start small by bringing Fuchsia to smart home devices like the Google Home smart speaker first within three years, then move on to laptops and eventually phones, according to Bloomberg's sources. But Google isn't sure when or where the tech might actually appear.

Why this idea is so intriguing anyhow

It could be a way for Google to build a single operating system across phones, tablets and PCs, which Google has been dreaming of for years, as well as a way to avoid future lawsuits with Oracle (since Fuchsia isn't based on the same code as Android) and a way for Google to address the Android fragmentation problem (meaning users can't count on their phones to have the same features) that's dogged Google for many years.

But it's not going to be easy to just ditch Android, and one of Bloomberg's sources actually suggests the company may not be that serious about the idea -- calling it a "senior-engineer retention project" designed to keep Google's talent busy so they don't go and join rival companies.

Originally published July 19, 9:46 a.m. PT.
Update, 10:50 a.m. PT: Added Google's brief statement and additional items that CNET has learned.

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