Amazon is reportedly working on its own Linux-based OS to replace Android on its Fire TVs, smart displays, and other non-tablet devices.
—What’s that? This isn’t Ubuntu related? Oh I know that — but I’m excited!
Roettgers says he spoke to sources who say Amazon is building its own iOS/Android competitor and has tasked “hundreds of people” within the Amazon Device OS group with building it.
This includes former Mozilla engineer Zibi Braniecki, who tweeted earlier this year to say he is working at Amazon on a “next generation Operating System for Smart Home, Automotive, and other Amazon Devices product lines” (sic).
“Most of the OS development is already done,” Roettgers’ sources add. They say they expect Vega to begin shipping on Fire TVs early next year. An SDK is now being readied for release so developers have time to port their apps to Vega ahead of its debut.
React Native is a smart choice because it’s cross-platform, making it easy for developers who already build iOS/Android apps using it to bring them to Amazon Vega (don’t get used to the name btw, it’s possible it won’t be called this if/when announced).
Doesn’t Amazon Already Use Linux?
While Android is also a Linux-based OS, and Amazon’s own Fire OS an Android-based fork, Vega is apparently not another Android fork nor based on AOSP. It is all-new, proper Linux.
Amazon’s eventual goal is to move away from relying on Android for all new hardware devices, according to Roettgers’ sources.
Vega is primed for lower-power devices that struggle with the bloat that Android, ostensibly a mobile phone OS, comes with, meaning Fire TV, smart displays and smart speakers, IoT devices, and Amazon’s automative ambitions (when/if they materialise).
So despite the appetite for one, Vega isn’t going to be an Android-killer, won’t bring an influx of big name apps to benefit regular Linux distros, nor see Amazon do something crazy cool like create a new Linux tablet interface.
Also, we’re talking Amazon. They can (and have) canned stuff, even after putting considerable amounts of time, money, and resources into developing it.
But if Vega does make it out, if it works well, and if it proves a hit with consumers, who knows what it could support, power, or run on in the future.
Sidenote: after publishing this article I received an email from someone purporting to be working at Amazon on Vega OS, and they said “the latest version of Echo Show 5 and Echo Show 15 already run Vega. You might notice they’re much faster than previous generations”.
More Linux is a Win
Vega will certainly reduce Amazon’s reliance on Android (and to a degree Google ), enable it to innovate more rapidly (many Fire devices still run on Android 7), and give them an agile, lightweight, and unified platform across all their devices which they can, presumably, monetise.
Regardless of whether you would buy something with Vega OS on it, more Linux is always a good thing.