Facebook is developing its own operating system that could one day reduce the company’s reliance on Google’s Android, according to a new report by The Information. Development is currently being led by Mark Lucovsky, a Microsoft veteran who co-authored the Windows NT operating system.
The report provides a limited amount of information about how the new operating system could be used, but it notes that both Facebook’s Oculus and Portal devices currently run on a modified version of Android. According to one of Facebook’s AR and VR heads, Ficus Kirkpatrick, “it’s possible” that Facebook’s future hardware won’t need to rely on Google’s software, which would reduce or remove entirely the control Google has over Facebook’s hardware.
“We really want to make sure the next generation has space for us,” Facebook’s head of hardware, Andrew Bosworth, told The Information. “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.”
Along with Oculus and Portal devices, Facebook is also working on augmented reality glasses. According to Bosworth, these glasses, codenamed “Orion,” could arrive as early as 2023. For those keeping score, that’s the same year that Apple is expected to come out with a pair of AR glasses of its own. Facebook is also working on a brain control interface for its glasses, which could allow users to control them with their thoughts.
The report suggests that Facebook is hoping to eventually take a similar approach to Apple with its hardware in the future. As well as developing its own OS, The Information corroborates reports from Bloomberg and the Financial Times earlier this year that Facebook is working on its own custom chip hardware, alongside the voice assistant that it confirmed it’s working on earlier this year.
It’s worth pointing out that Facebook’s last attempt at producing its own OS did not go so well. The attempt resulted in a forked version of Android that ran on an HTC-produced phone back in 2013. Flooding a phone with Facebook’s social feed was wildly unpopular even back before Facebook’s brand was tarnished with numerous privacy scandals. Facebook will have an uphill battle on its hands if it wants people to give its software another shot.