With only few hours left for the world’s largest developer festival Google I/O 2018, the search engine giant is realizing one of its biggest promises- “Android Things”. Announced two years ago by Google, Android Things is an Android-based embedded operating system, specifically designed to perform best on IoT devices that are constrained by memory and low-power. Android Things supports any kind of IoT devices or gadgets such as smart thermostats or air quality monitors, that do not really require a full-blown interface like that of a smartphone or a laptop to operate.
At the heart of Android Things
Android Things is erected on three pillars:
- a highly optimized OS that is fine-tuned to run seamlessly on any low-powered device
- a fine assortment of hardware kits approved by Google itself
- a streamlined system for pushing both software and security updates for IoT devices
Of the three, the final one matters most because, even the tiny computing devices connected to your Wi-Fi can become a massive target for hackers who yearn to access your private home network.
Why Android Things?
As part of Android Things 1.0 official release, Google is launching the Android Things Starter Kit and other SDKs necessary for developers to build IoT devices. The new managed OS of Android Things enables IoT manufacturers to streamline production time and costs by facilitating development on top of time-tested tools like Android SDK. Products built on the Android Things platform will enjoy the benefits offered by Google, including regular stability and security patches that are automatically rolled out by the tech giant directly. These updates will be enabled by default.
In short, through Android Things, Google aims to free developers from worrying about the system and its maintenance and allows them to focus on building their product.
Changing the status quo
Android Things strives to move away from status quo of long waiting periods needed for updating new security patches. Google itself will be in charge of sending out updates, whenever a new security patch for Android gets released. The updates will be sent to Android Things devices immediately, which will put an end to the existing cult of long waiting episodes, suffered by many Android devices today. Google states that it will provide the automatic updates free for next three years.
As per Google’s stats, over 100,000 SDK downloads occurred during the preview phase and more than 10,000 developers shared their feedback during the beta release. Currently, non-commercial users are allowed to manage 100 devices free of cost, using the Android Things console. If any user wants to use beyond 100 devices or wishes to roll out a commercial product on the platform, they need to sign a distribution agreement with Google, prior to doing so.
Google believes that these obvious benefits will make Android Things a ubiquitous OS. Now that the platform is officially out, we have to see what people are going to do with Android Things, which will be both interesting and innovative.