Google launches developer preview of Android Things

Google launches developer preview of Android Things [Image: chombosan via iStock]

Google has launched a developer preview of Android Things, a new operating system designed for the Internet of Things (IoT).

Wayne Piekarski, developer advocate at Google, called it “a comprehensive way to build IoT products with the power of Android, one of the world's most supported operating systems”.

Explaining the development, he said Google took into consideration the feedback from Project Brillo to include tools like Android Studio, the Android Software Development Kit (SDK), Google Play Services and Google Cloud Platform.

Project Brillo was an OS announced in 2015. It was hoped that it would be the platform to launch the IoT.

Writing in an Android blog, Mr Piekarski said: “We're releasing a developer preview of Android Things, a comprehensive way to build IoT products with the power of Android, one of the world's most supported operating systems.

“Now any Android developer can quickly build a smart device using Android APIs and Google services, while staying highly secure with updates direct from Google.”

He went on to say that in the coming months, Android will provide developer preview updates. These will bring developers the infrastructure for securely pushing regular OS patches, security fixes, and your own updates, as well as built-in Weave connectivity and more, according to Mr Piekarski.

Many analysts have said that the biggest problem with the IoT at present is that there are too many individual platforms, leading to confusion and a lack of interoperability. Google hopes to eliminate this problem by allowing connected devices to be controlled by Android smartphones. Android Things is intended to improve functionality.

Google has also added support for Weave in Android Things. Weave is an independent IoT platform, which will allow devices to connect to Google services and to communicate with other gadgets. This includes Google Assistant, recently announced with the launch of the company’s Pixel smartphone.

Manufacturers currently working on the Weave platform are Philips Hue and Samsung SmartThings. It has been reported that Belkin WeMo, Honeywell, Wink, LiFX, TP-Link and First Alert are implementing it.

According to Mr Piekarski, Weave provides “all the cloud infrastructure”, which allows developers to focus on building their products without having to invest in cloud services. He added that Weave also includes a “Device SDK for supported microcontrollers and a management console”.

Currently, the Weave Device SDK supports schemas for light bulbs, smart plugs and switches and thermostats. Google intends to add support for additional device types, custom schemas and traits as well as a mobile application API for Android and iOS.

Mr Piekarski said that there are “several turnkey hardware solutions available” for developers to begin building products with Android Things immediately. These include Intel Edison, NXP Pico, and Raspberry Pi 3.