From 2 billion objects in 2006 to a projected 200 billion by 2020, the Internet of Things (IoT) market is experiencing an unprecedented growth and those who miss on capitalizing on it are likely to become irrelevant in the near future. That’s not something Google can afford to let happen. The company has recently launched a new version of the Android operating system, Android Things. This time, it’s target are smart, connected devices and the IoT market in general.
What Is Android Things?
Unlike other operating systems from Google, such as Android Wear or Chrome OS, Android Things isn’t an operating system that you can see. Launched on 13 December 2016, Android Things is designed to work in the background, allowing smart devices to process complex tasks without relying on remote servers for processing. We are talking about larger connected products such as printers, ovens, locks, speakers, routers, and security cameras, just to name a few.
Android Things isn’t an entirely new creation. Google has announced new “underlying operating system for the internet of things,” called Brillo, at Google I/O 2015. Back then, Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President, explained how they stripped Android to its bare essentials while still preserving all much-needed functionality, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy, and others. Since that announcement in 2015, we haven’t heard a word from Google about Brillo, and it’s not clear why.
During the same 2015 Google I/O, Pichai also announced Weave, “a common language that lets devices talk to each other, the cloud, and your phone,” reports Digital Trends. The point is to have the same command for, let’s say, “unlock” and have it work across all supported devices. As such, Android Things devices won’t communicate with one another directly. Instead, Weave will serve as an interpreter, enabling integration with both Android and iOS devices.
“We are also updating the Weave platform to make it easier for all types of devices to connect to the cloud and interact with services like the Google Assistant. Device makers like Philips Hue and Samsung SmartThings already use Weave, and several others like Belkin WeMo, LiFX, Honeywell, Wink, TP-Link, and First Alert are implementing it. Weave provides all the cloud infrastructure so that developers can focus on building their products without investing in cloud services,” writes on the Android Developers blog. He further adds, “Weave also includes a Device SDK for supported microcontrollers and a management console. The Weave Device SDK currently supports schemas for light bulbs, smart plugs and switches, and thermostats.”
Testing Android Things
Google is also hoping to attract new and seasoned developers alike by including familiar tools such as Android Studio, the Android SDK, Google Play Services, and Google Cloud Platform. A developer preview is already available from the new website, where you can learn additional technical details about the technology.
All aspiring Android Things developers should be familiar with the basic concepts and general workflow of regular Android development and own, at least, one of several supported hardware platforms, such as Intel Edison, NXP Pico, or Raspberry Pi 3.