Google today released version 1.0 of Android Things, letting manufacturers build and maintain Internet of Things (IoT) devices using its technologies. The first stable release of Android Things means IoT developers can leverage the Android partner ecosystem, Google Assistant, and Google’s machine learning capabilities.
Android Things is an Android-based embedded OS aimed to be used with low-power and memory-constrained IoT devices. It supports Bluetooth Low Energy, Wi-Fi, and the Weave protocol, which these devices use to communicate with other devices. Every Android device can automatically recognize any Android Things or Weave-using device.
This launch has been a long time coming. The first Android Things developer preview arrived in December 2016, an enhancement and rebranding of Google’s codename Brillo, which was first made available via an early access program for developers in October 2015.
Production hardware and software updates
Now that version 1.0 is available, Google is promising “a robust platform that does the heavy lifting with certified hardware, rich developer APIs, and secure managed software updates using Google’s back-end infrastructure, so you can focus on building your product.” The supported platforms page is worth examining in detail.
Also included in today’s announcement is three years of support for the newly announced production devices: system-on-modules (SoMs) based on the NXP i.MX8M, Qualcomm SDA212, Qualcomm SDA624, and MediaTek MT8516 hardware platforms. Google is guaranteeing support for three years, with development hardware and reference designs for these SoMs available in the coming months. Google is dropping support for the NXP i.MX6UL devices, while the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B and NXP i.MX7D devices will continue to be supported as prototype hardware.
The three years of support means over-the-air software updates, including stability fixes and security patches, with automatic updates enabled for all devices by default. Beyond three years, additional options for extended support will be available, and developers can still push app updates after support ends. In terms of noncommercial use, the Android Things Console only covers software updates for 100 active devices. For commercial products, developers have to sign a distribution agreement with Google to remove the device limit.
If you’re a developer interested in Android Things, you’ll want to check out the release notes and Build with Android Things for kits, sample code, and community projects. If you’ve used Android Things before, employ the Android Things Console to begin validating your devices for production with the 1.0 system image.
For everyone else, you can expect the first devices powered by Android Things to start hitting shelves “between now and the end of summer.” Google is promising smart speakers from LG and iHome, as well as smart displays from Lenovo, LG, and JBL, with Google Assistant and Google Cast built in.