Google Internet of Things Platform Gains Android O Support

The latest preview version of Android Things also gives developers a look at the new support for technologies such as the OpenGL graphics library and WebView for displaying web content.

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Google has released the latest developer preview of its Android Things platform for the Internet of Things.

Developer Preview 5 of Android Things is the first version of the platform to use Google's upcoming Android O operating system's code base. It includes new Application Programming Interface (API) features from Android O as well as specific new features for Android Things.

The latest preview version of Android Things also gives developers a look at the new support for technologies such as OpenGL and WebView for the Raspberry Pi 3 that has been integrated into Android Things.

"With Android Things being updated to Android O, significant changes have been made to the platform," Google's developer advocate for IoT Wayne Piekarski said on the company's Android Developer blog.

Android Things is designed to let developers build mass-market, consumer IoT devices based on Android. The company has claimed the platform abstracts all the complexities of embedded systems design, so developers can get started developing IoT devices without having any previous knowledge of designing IoT systems.

Under the Android Things program, Google is working with multiple partners to build development boards that contain so-called System-on-Modules (SoMs). These are modules that integrate the processor, RAM, flash storage, Bluetooth, WiFi and other components required for an IoT device. All of the components are integrated on a single board and are pre-certified to Federal Communications Commission standards.

Development boards come with different SoMs, so developers can choose the kit that is closest to their requirements.  The idea is to make it simple for developers to take these development boards and bring IoT products to market far more quickly compared to starting from scratch. Each of the SoMs are in fact designed to work in a turnkey platform based on the Android SDK that can be used to design multiple IoT devices.

Google has claimed that Android Thing significantly lowers the barrier to entry for organizations seeking to break into the IoT market.  One of the biggest benefits, according to the company is that it can help organizations reduce upfront development costs and minimize the risks inherent in getting a design off the ground and into the prototyping stage to deliver a finished commercial product.

Support for Android O is only one of the new additions to Android Things. With the newest Developer Preview, Google has also introduced support for new hardware, new device management APIs and OpenGL 2.0 graphics library.

Developers can use the preview version for things like development and compatibility testing purposes. But as preview technology, it does contain several known issues, including those related to power management and app installations, Google said in its release notes for the platform.

"When we exit Developer Preview, we will differentiate between hardware platforms targeted for prototyping-only and hardware reference designs that can scale to production," Piekarski said. All Android Things components identified as production ready will meet Google's standards for security and support from silicon manufacturers, he said.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.