What is An­droid Things?

With the IoT in its in­fancy, Google has re­leased its own soft­ware plat­form for de­vel­op­ers. Mar­tyn Casserly re­ports

Android Advisor - - Contents -

Google re­cently an­nounced the re­lease of a new IoT (In­ter­net of Things) plat­form that utilises the power of An­droid and will al­low de­vel­op­ers to eas­ily cre­ate new smart de­vices.

An­droid Things is its name and there’s a real chance that the plat­form could be a very big deal. We take a quick look at what is An­droid Things and why it mat­ters.

What is the In­ter­net of Things?

There’s been a lot of talk about IoT over the past few years. This is due to the fact that tech­nol­ogy has now reached a point where small, low power, in­ter­net en­abled cir­cuitry can be cheaply in­te­grated into a num­ber of prod­ucts. This ex­plains the growth in in­ter­net se­cu­rity cam­eras, door locks, ther­mostats, lights and, yes, even smart fridges.

The prin­ci­ple of the IoT is that th­ese prod­ucts use the web to com­mu­ni­cate with each other and their owner (usu­ally via a smart­phone app) and take care of sim­ple tasks au­to­mat­i­cally or via remote com­mands. Es­sen­tially it al­lows you to turn on the heating be­fore you ar­rive home or be re­minded to pick up some milk be­cause you’re run­ning low. Of course Red Dwarf did warn us of a fu­ture where we were ter­rorised by talk­ing toast­ers, but hope­fully we have heeded those lessons well.

There are still a few fun­da­men­tals to be worked out as the IoT be­comes a main­stream re­al­ity, prin­ci­ple of which is what soft­ware plat­forms the var­i­ous de­vices will sup­port. Google’s re­lease of the An­droid Things de­vel­oper beta will be wel­come news to those who pre­fer the An­droid way of life, while Ap­ple’s al­ready preva­lent HomeKit op­tion cur­rently caters for those with iOS de­vices. There will no doubt be a fair amount of cross­over in re­gards of prod­ucts, but the real ground will be taken by those who make it easy

and prof­itable for de­vices to be made and run on their side of the fence.

What does it do and who is it for?

An­droid Things en­ables An­droid de­vel­op­ers to cre­ate new smart de­vices that use Google’s ex­ist­ing ser­vices and An­droid APIs to ac­com­plish tasks. This is bol­stered by Google pro­vid­ing reg­u­lar se­cu­rity up­dates for the plat­form.

Ini­tially the sup­ported hard­ware will in­clude In­tel Edi­son, NXP Pico, and Rasp­berry Pi 3, all of which – ac­cord­ing to Google – can be scaled up to large pro­duc­tion runs.

The new soft­ware builds on Google’s pre­vi­ous IoT pro­ject Brillo, in­cor­po­rat­ing sev­eral use­ful tools from that ex­pe­ri­ence. Th­ese in­clude Google Play Ser­vices, Google Cloud Plat­form, An­droid Stu­dio, and the An­droid Soft­ware Devel­op­ment Kit. The com­pany is also up­dat­ing the Weave plat­form to make it eas­ier for de­vices to con­nect to the cloud and in­ter­act with the new central part of the Google smart sys­tem – Google As­sis­tant.

There are al­ready a num­ber of big name com­pa­nies adopt­ing Weave – in­clud­ing Belkin WeMo, TP-Link, Philips Hue, Honey­well, and LiFX – so we would ex­pect to see some An­droid Things en­abled prod­ucts ap­pear­ing be­fore too long and fo­cused on the Smart Home mar­ket.

It’s good to see Google fo­cus­ing on the IoT area, as it feels a very nat­u­ral place for the search gi­ant’s ex­per­tise to re­ally shine. Now a great first step would be to re­lease Google Home in the UK, so we can all get a taste for the cloud-based world of to­mor­row.

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