Google has launched Android Things, an Android-based device OS for the Internet of Things. Combined with Weave, this software will play a crucial role in Google’s IoT strategy.
Android Things heats up the device market with a new OS. Microsoft is pushing Windows 10 IoT to hobbyists and OEMs. Though Amazon doesn’t have a device OS, it is making AWS Lambda available to IoT developers. AWS is partnering with device manufacturers to bundle Lambda Greengrass, a local version of AWS Lambda that can be installed in IoT devices and hubs.
Mainstream cloud providers – Amazon, Google, and Microsoft – are banking on the IoT strategy to drive traction for their respective cloud platforms.
Android Things is the latest attempt from Google to connect the dots between the cloud and devices.
Here are ten things to you should know about Android Things.
- Android Things is a rebranded version Google Brillo, an OS that Google announced in 2015. Though the core of Brillo was Android, the development and deployment experience was significantly different from regular Android development.
- Brillo used C++ as the primary development environment while Android Things targets all Java developers with or without mobile development experience.
- Developers can use the toolkit to target IoT devices. Android Studio, the popular IDE for Android based on JetBrains’ IntelliJ IDEA, supports IoT development through Android Things. The lifecycle of application development almost remains the same as mobile development.
- Android Things OS supports a subset of the original Android SDK. APIs that require user input or authentication credentials such as AdMob, Maps, Search, and Sign-In are not supported.
- Like the OTA updates for Android Phones, developers can push Google-provided OS updates and custom app updates using the same OTA infrastructure that Google uses for its products and services.
- Google recommends Raspberry Pi 3, Intel Edison, and NXP Pico for the initial prototyping and developing. Additional certified devices will be added by the general availability of Android Things.
- Google Cloud Platform components including Firebase can be easily integrated with Android Things. Developers will be able to utilize various cloud services for storage, state management, and messaging.
- Android Things is integrated with Weave, the communication platform for IoT devices. Weave Server, the cloud service handles device registration, command propagation, storing of states, and integration with Google services like the Google Assistant. Weave SDK will be embedded in the devices for local and remote communication.
- Nest Weave, a protocol used by Nest devices will become a subset of Weave. Both these protocols are based on Thread, an IPV6 networking protocol that was originally designed for creating local wireless mesh networks.
- Weave can be used with or without Android Things. It’s an independent protocol that can be an alternative to Zigbee, Z-Wave, and Bluetooth Smart.