Facebook is developing an Android replacement since it doesn't trust Google

Facebook is developing an Android replacement since it doesn't trust Google
You don't need to be a Chinese smartphone manufacturer cut off from the Google Play services version of Android to start developing an alternative operating system. You can also be a large global social-media company headquartered in the U.S. that seeks to control all personal data and aspires to world domination. The former, of course, is Huawei whose placement on the U.S. Commerce Departments entity list prevents it from accessing the U.S. based supply chain that it spent $11 billion on last year.

Without being able to include the Google Play Store on its new phones, Huawei's new handsets cannot run Google's core Android apps like Search, Maps, Gmail and more. That doesn't matter in China where most Google apps are banned, but does hurt Huawei's international shipments. The company developed its own operating system called HarmonyOS as an alternative to the licensed version of Android. Ironically, the OS is not for smartphone use, at least not yet. So for now, Huawei is using an open-source version of Android for its phones.

Can you guess the second company we outlined in the first paragraph? If you guessed Facebook, you're 100% correct. According to The Information (via TechCrunch), the company is building a new campus where it will design new hardware. And to make sure that it is completely self sufficient, Facebook is working on making its own Android replacement; the social media giant has named Mark Lucovsky as General Manager of Operating Systems; Lucovsky was part of the team that developed Windows NT for Microsoft. Facebook also wants to design its own chips and create a new virtual assistant. Currently, its Portal smart display uses Amazon's Alexa to handle complex tasks thrown at it by users.

Facebook can afford to spend money on its whims and that makes it dangerous


While Facebook will continue to offer Android-based apps, the problem is simply a matter of trust. Ironically, the company that allowed 87 million user profiles to be used without permission (resulting in a violation of a signed FTC consent decree and a $5 billion fine) says that it doesn't trust that other tech companies like Google will work with it. Facebook’s VP of hardware, Andrew 'Boz' Bosworth said, "We really want to make sure the next generation has space for us. We don’t think we can trust the marketplace or competitors to ensure that’s the case. And so we’re gonna do it ourselves."


Facebook is also concerned that if it has any issues with Google, it could lead to product delays and other issues. Facebook is said to be is extremely concerned about the augmented reality glasses that it is developing. And by using its own hardware and software in a range of products, Facebook could make it difficult for the government to force it to spinoff some of its acquisitions. For example, if Facebook decides to use the Instagram name on its AR glasses as rumored, it could be harder to request that Instagram be spun off as an independent outfit if it is using Facebook's parts in such a device.

Facebook hasn't proven yet that it can produce a smash hit tech device. Besides the Portal smart display, sales of its Oculus VR headsets are not exactly soaring. Still, the company is taking its self-sufficiency seriously as seen by discussions it reportedly held to acquire Cirrus Logic. The latter makes digital signal audio chips (DSP) for Apple and has a market cap close to $4.7 billion. And that is the problem with Facebook. The firm has billions of dollars available for it to spend on its most devious plans. Consider that the company has a brain-scanning system that uses optical scanning to figure out what words someone is thinking of and turn it into text. And Facebook has been shrinking the size of this down to that of a handheld device and hopes to eventually include it on smartphones.

But hasn't that been Facebook's goal all along? The social media company wants to know exactly what you're thinking at all times and profit from this knowledge.

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16 Comments

1. domfonusr

Posts: 1101; Member since: Jan 17, 2014

When it comes to mobile OS competitors, I'll say for Facebook exactly the same thing I said for Huawei: the more the merrier. There needs to be more competition in the space than just iOS versus Android... I would like to see what Harmony OS becomes, and the same goes for Facebook's potential mobile OS. I really wish that Windows Phone and/or BlackBerry 10 had taken off, and gotten the support they needed, but there is no time machine to go back and bring them into the future, so I'll take whatever I can get in the here-and-now.

2. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3186; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Hey Zuckerberg, call Satya Nadella in Redmond, Washington. He's got a fully developed mobile OS that he'll be glad to sell you sometime next month when they take it off life support.

3. MsPooks

Posts: 304; Member since: Jul 08, 2019

No way in Hades I'd trust Facebook any more than Google, but I'm with domfonusr: the more, the merrier. Frankly, I'd be happy if Huawei could guarantee no more Google on their phones. It would be nice to see Samsung really get behind Tizen as well.

4. PhoneCritic

Posts: 1382; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

not going to happen because of market forces we have all seen this play out before in almost every new industry from oil to automobiles, health care, Movie studios, computers and mobile etc. There are always a bevy of companies that start out and then it whittles down to either the big 4 or three. Hence Verizon, T-mobile, Sprint- Ford, GM and Chrysler, McDonald, Burger king, Wendy's, Kentucky, Chik filets, PoPye, Domino's, Little Ceasers, Pa Pa Johns Samsung, Apple Ios, Android etc.. the list goes on it always comes down to four, three or some times just two. We humans like choices but not too many we want it to be manageable and it is always a thing of this side or that side this tribe or that tribe. So I don't see FB being able to bring out something that can catch at this point because we all have narrowed it down to Ios And Android.

7. MrMalignance

Posts: 351; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

@phonecritic: I agree with most of your point 100%. The only part I can't get behind is the food analogy, there are tons of chains and more on the way. The carriers and car manufacturers are a more accurate comparison

10. TS020

Posts: 71; Member since: Feb 16, 2019

Gonna happen in streaming as well; needing 6 different subscriptions just to watch the sows you want is gonna turn a lot of people off.

5. Rocket

Posts: 730; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

Doesn't trust Google? who trust Facebook, for real?

6. seantn4

Posts: 66; Member since: Dec 11, 2018

Do it. I'd try it at least once. Always good to expand your horizons. Plus, Facebook already spies on us. Might as well get some advantage out of it.

8. ZEUS.the.thunder.god

Posts: 1183; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

No company is a saint when it comes to data and privacy, including Google and Apple however, I don't think there's another company as rotten as Facebook.

9. digitaldude

Posts: 2; Member since: Dec 19, 2019

I believe it's less nefarious than it seems. I don't believe it's a matter of trusting evil google. It's more Facebook/Oculus needs this change done to get X feature working. I'm not sure that Google/Android will make it a high priority to fix or update Android. John Carmack spoke about issues working with Samsung in the past while developing for the Gear VR, and he's mentioned, "why is this done in Android this way instead of another way." Facebook is betting billions on AR/VR and mobile. You need to have the best optimization when working on mobile. Milliseconds can mean having excellent or nauseating experiences in VR. The only way to make sure that you can get the highest quality optimizations is to control the hardware and software at the lowest levels. There's a reason you don't see that many mobile Oculus Quests competitors with 6dof head and controller and finger tracking with a 2-year-old snapdragon processor. In order for headsets to become lighter faster with decent battery life, you're going to need to optimize like crazy, and it's going to be easier if you control the hardware and software and not be at the mercy of another company to make updates or improvements with their OS.

11. Vancetastic

Posts: 1866; Member since: May 17, 2017

I don't think I could run away from a Facebook OS quickly enough.

12. kanagadeepan

Posts: 1284; Member since: Jan 24, 2012

Google is into data mining as well, but it is NOT as filthy + rotten as FaceBook for sure. With latest Android OS taking sincere steps towards Privacy and granular permissions, this is expected from FaceBook. I can guess the phone with ALWAYS ON Camera (more like hidden camera) feature. Good luck to those who trust FB and buy FB's phone with FB OS.

13. Pureviewuser1

Posts: 162; Member since: Mar 28, 2016

Crispin_Gatieza I completely agree with you it would be an excellent idea which would really take off and create a a 3rd viable os

14. AlienKiss

Posts: 314; Member since: May 21, 2019

I've been rooting Android smartphones for years now and I have to thank fb for it. The desire to delete their app from my phone made me study programming :)) Now, I wouldn't even get close to one of those fb phones, not to mention pay for one.. :)) PS: if their os will not be open-source, it will be a total failure.

15. shafayatsohail

Posts: 50; Member since: Jan 14, 2016

Go back to Windows 10

16. digitaldude

Posts: 2; Member since: Dec 19, 2019

This isn't going to be a traditional OS that people are used to. It may become that depending on how AR/VR evolves. I'm sure 99% of the people here wouldn't know what OS is on their home security systems.

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