Google announced its Android Things platform for the Internet of Things

Android Things and Weave logos (Image courtesy Google)
Android Things and Weave logos (Image courtesy Google)

Google announced its own platform for the Internet of Things, called Android Things. In fact, it’s Brillo project, introduced in May 2015, in which the company included several new features requested by the developers who had the opportunity to test it. The presence of the Weave communication protocol is confirmed.

Google has been developing a minimal version of Android for some years, initially oriented to home automation to evolve into Brillo when the goal became broader with the development of the Internet of Things. Brillo was left in a sort of limbo, in the sense that it remained in a close phase in which only the invited developers had access to its tools. Evidently, it was a sort of incubation period.

Now obviously the project leaders are convinced that their operating system for the Internet of Things is ready to take a step forward. Probably for branding reasons, they changed its name and decided to emphasize the fact that it belongs to the Android ecosystem.

There are also major changes such as adding tools linked to the “normal” version of Android such as Android Studio, the Android Software Development Kit (SDK), Google Play Services and Google Cloud Platform. In short, the former Brillo really becomes a specialized version of Android, but what about the resources needed to run it?

One of the strengths of Brillo project was the fact that it could run on hardware very limited in terms of available memory. This choice was due precisely to be able to use it on boards that are very cheap but also with hardware limitations commonly used for applications for the Internet of Things. Adding tools from the basic version of Android could change things.

Google announced the availability of a Developer Preview of Android Things that will run on platforms known in the field of the Internet of Things such as Raspberry Pi 3, Intel Edison and NXP Pico. The Weave communication protocol was updated to allow all devices to connect to the cloud and also interact with services such as Google Assistant. Several manufacturers are already implementing it so in the future it could become a standard.

Soon there should be a public release of Android Things source code. Honestly Google tends not to be very clear about the licensing of the various Android componentswith the Linux kernel being free and the rest is up to Google. The question also concerns security, a sore point in the Internet of Things: Android Things is supposed to represent a step forward from this point of view with continuous updates. If all the instruments were free / open source, security-related controls would be easier for developers.

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