A Breakdown of Android Things
By Srirama Sai Kiran Palavancha
What is Android Things?
Android Things is a ‘managed Operating system ( OS)’ , developed for IoT devices like smart locks, smart thermostats & more. It could also run on products like connected speakers, security cameras, routers, and so on. The idea is that, with Android Things, it would be easier for companies to start shipping IoT hardware, because they’d be using the same Android developer tools they already know.
In a nut shell, it was designed to be a stripped-down version of Android, aimed at nearly every type of internet-connected gadget you could imagine. However, Google announced Android Things would exclusively begin to focus on smart speakers and smart displays. That’s much more narrow than all Internet of Things devices, which Google had envisioned from the get go.
Plus, Google has recently began touting Google Assistant over Android Things for smart devices. Recently Google announced Google Assistant Connect, a way to add Assistant into all sorts of devices, from e-readers to appliances.
What Constitutes an Android Things?
The Android Things , in a nutshell , comes with a well- optimized OS that can work on any hardware platform and run on any low-powered devices, Google-certified back-end infrastructure ( hardware) , along with a system to ensure regular software and security update for the connected devices.
Android Things can be enabled on any device which you might have never imagined of. From the regular home appliances to highly critical equipment in manufacturing units, the android things can work with any device connected to internet and all the other places where the current IoT applications work.
So, what is Brillo then?
Android Things, the basis of the operating system, isn’t exactly new. It’s a rebrand. A few years ago, Google announced Brillo, an Android-based OS for smart devices and IoT gadgets, but it never did much with the OS. Android Things is basically a successor to Brillo. It’s also an update that allows development to be accomplished with “the same developer tools as standard Android”, whereas Brillo didn’t offer that.
Brillo didn’t catch on because developers likely found it difficult to jump in and work on a new product. Now, because they have access to the same familiar tools, the hope is they can quickly get up to speed.
What are the Benefits of Android Things?
For Google : Android Things has the potential to become an additional channel for data collection. This can enable Google to understand user-behavior better. Thus Google will be able to deliver more personalized and context-driven advertisements to its wide user base.
For businesses: Android Things might bring down the overall cost of IoT application development. This is because Android Things framework can serve as an application which can run on any hardware and businesses just need to build new applications on top of this. This will decrease the overhead cost and improve the productivity.
For Android Developers: In the current setup, the responsibility to provide regular security updates to the Android devices is with Google, rather than the developers themselves.
This means as and when a security patch is released for android, all the devices working on Android Things will immediately receive it. This will eliminate the delay in updating the smart devices.
Additionally, the developers can focus entirely on product development rather than bothering about security updates now and then.
Anything else we should know?
Don’t think of Android Things as Android or Wear OS, which we plainly see running on a phone or watch, respectively. Android Things is an OS that works in the background but isn’t visible. It allows smart devices to handle their own tasks rather than let servers do the processing. Because it is capable of more complex tasks, it’s ideal for complex smart devices like printers and locks, rather than basic power outlets.
Also, Android Things devices will be able to integrate with Android and iOS devices through Weave, a communications system that Google launched alongside Brillo. That protocol will also enable Android Things devices to have access to Google Assistant.