Android Things is a managed operating system that provides developers with the SDKs to build every kind of Google-certified IoT device.
The company announced the concept in December 2016, as a comprehensive IoT platform to make it quicker and easier for software and hardware developers – including those working on smart displays, cash machines, kiosks, and digital signage – to build IoT products using Android APIs.
“The goal is to enable them to be built faster, cheaper, and more secure,” said Venkat Rapaka, product management director at Google, as the platform was taken out of Beta, a day before the start of the I/O event.
The news may have been released early to steal Microsoft’s thunder, as it announced a range of connected-product, AI, and edge computing initiatives at its competing Build 2018 conference in Seattle, yesterday.
Android Things is also being positioned as a means of coding device applications with functions such as video and audio processing, with plans to include optional onboard machine learning via TensorFlow, Google’s open-source software library for machine intelligence.
Three years of free updates
Android Things competes with Amazon’s Greengrass and Microsoft’s Windows IoT. When Google announced the platform in 2016, it said it would be secured through direct updates. Google has now said that it will provide three years of free security patches to hardware manufacturers, with paid-for support options available after that time.
Google already has a number of hardware and software partners in place for Android Things, including Intel Edison, NXP Pico, Raspberry Pi, Qualcomm, and Sophos.
At the end of last year, Google released a developer preview of the platform (DP6), which fixed some bugs and offered new features. The DP6 update included an ‘IoT launcher’, which enabled users to see the current state of a device and change its settings using a touchscreen or USB input device. A final preview update was released last month.
• Additional reporting: Sooraj Shah.
Internet of Business says
In recent months, Google/Alphabet has faced a growing challenge from Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS), with the perception being that Google is losing ground in the IoT – at least when it comes to the cloud.
With a range of enterprise technology providers, including Microsoft and Dell, all now focused on the edge IoT environment with multibillion-dollar strategic investments, Google now has an opportunity to raise its profile in the IoT with Android Things.
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