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Google takes Android Things out of beta

Steve Rogerson
May 10, 2018
After a developer preview with more than 100,000 SDK downloads, Google has taken its Android Things managed IoT operating system out of beta and made it available to all developers.
Android Things is Google's managed OS that enables users to build and maintain IoT devices at scale. It provides a robust platform that does the heavy lifting with certified hardware, developer APIs and secure managed software updates using Google's back-end infrastructure.
“Developer feedback and engagement has been critical in our journey towards 1.0,” said Dave Smith, developer advocate for the IoT in a blog post, “and we are grateful to the over 10,000 developers who have provided us feedback through the issue tracker, at workshop events and through our Google+ community.”
This week, Google announced support for systems-on-module (SoMs) based on the NXP i.MX8M, Qualcomm SDA212, Qualcomm SDA624 and MediaTek MT8516 hardware platforms. These modules are certified for production use with support for three years, making it easier to bring prototypes to market. Development hardware and reference designs for these SoMs will be available in the coming months.
The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B and NXP i.MX7D devices will continue to be supported as developer hardware for developers to prototype and test product ideas. Support for the NXP i.MX6UL devices will not continue.
“One of the core tenets of Android Things is powering devices that remain secure over time,” said Smith. “Providing timely software updates over-the-air is a fundamental part of that.”
Stability fixes and security patches are supported on production hardware platforms, and automatic updates are enabled for all devices by default. For each long-term support version, Google says it will offer free stability fixes and security patches for three years, with additional options for extended support.
“Even after the official support window ends, you will still be able to continue to push app updates to your devices,” said Smith.
Use of the Android Things Console for software updates is limited to 100 active devices for non-commercial use. Developers who intend to ship a commercial product running Android Things must sign a distribution agreement with Google to remove the device limit.
The console includes a new interface to configure hardware peripherals, enabling build-time control of the peripheral IO connections available and device properties such as GPIO resistors and I2C bus speed. Smith said this feature would continue to be expanded in future releases to encompass more peripheral hardware configurations.
“Over the past several months, we've worked closely with partners to bring products built on Android Things to market,” said Smith.
These include smart speakers from LG and iHome and smart displays from Lenovo, LG and JBL, which showcase capabilities such as Google Assistant and Google Cast. These products are hitting shelves between now and the end of summer.
Start-ups and agencies are also using Android Things to prototype ideas for a diverse set of use-cases. Here are two examples:

  • Byteflies: Docking station that securely transmits wearable health data to the cloud.
  • Mirego: Network of large photo displays driven by public photo booths in downtown Montreal.
For those building a product powered by Android Things, Google is introducing a limited programme to partner with the Android Things team for technical guidance and support building the product.