Qualcomm and NXP collaborate with Google on Android Things
December 15, 2016
Qualcomm Technologies and NXP intend to collaborate with Google to add support for the Android Things operating system, a vertical of Android designed for IoT devices.
Google released this week a developer preview of Android Things, a way to build IoT products using Android.
“Now any Android developer can quickly build a smart device using Android APIs and Google services, while staying highly secure with updates direct from Google,” said Wayne Piekarski, Google developer advocate for IoT, in a blog post. “We incorporated the feedback from Project Brillo to include familiar tools such as Android Studio, the Android software development kit, Google Play Services and Google Cloud platform. And in the coming months, we will provide developer preview updates to bring the infrastructure for securely pushing regular OS patches, security fixes and your own updates, as well as built-in Weave connectivity and more.”
There are several turnkey hardware products available to get started building real products with Android Things today, including Intel Edison, NXP Pico and Raspberry Pi 3. Users can scale to large production runs with custom designs of these, while continuing to use the same board support package from Google.
“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,” said Piekarski. “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 the cloud infrastructure so that developers can focus on building their products without investing in cloud services. 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.
“In the coming months we will be adding support for additional device types, custom schemas, traits, and a mobile application API for Android and iOS,” said Piekarski. “Finally, we're also working towards merging Weave and Nest Weave to enable all classes of devices to connect with each other in a secure and reliable way. So whether you started with Google Weave or Nest Weave, there is a path forward in the ecosystem.
Qualcomm will be integrating Android Things into its Snapdragon processors and Dutch company NXP Semiconductors announced the availability of two development kits consisting of low cost modules, based on its i.MX 6UltraLite applications processor and base board.
By using their combined expertise in Android and Snapdragon processors to support development of connected devices aimed at consumer and industrial applications, the Qualcomm and Google initiative aims to help developers participate in IoT.
The design of IoT devices can be a complex task, usually requiring developers to bring together multiple connectivity technologies, sensors, data processing and storage, multimedia and user interfaces, security, cloud integration, device management, and over-the-air upgrades and services. Development can be particularly challenging in fragmented OS ecosystems lacking a consistent environment, software tools and support required to create applications.
Qualcomm and Google are addressing these problems by letting Android Things run on Snapdragon processors to offer developers familiar connectivity environments, including: cellular, wifi and Bluetooth; support for a wide array of sensors; camera, graphics, multimedia and rich UI capabilities; hardware-based security; Google services and cloud integration; and test and optimisation tools. This should allow for rapid development of scalable, cost-effective and security-focused IoT products.
"Since the launch of the first Android phone, Qualcomm Technologies and Google have closely collaborated to create exciting new opportunities for developers in mobile, wearables and the IoT," said Jeffery Torrance, vice president at Qualcomm Technologies. "We are pleased to announce our intent to work with Google on this new initiative to expand the Android ecosystem. We anticipate many new and exciting IoT products will result as developers are able to bring the power of the Snapdragon processor together with Android Things."
Android Things is in developer preview and is anticipated to be released more broadly next year on Snapdragon processors.
The combination of NXP hardware and Android software should enable companies to develop connected devices without having to build from kernel to applications, lowering the barriers of entry to the IoT market.
“For the past year, NXP has been an early hardware partner for Google’s IoT platform now called Android Things,” said Robert Thompson, i.MX ecosystem manager at NXP. “We are now the only partner on the market to offer low cost certified, system on modules. We believe that successful implementation of IoT depends on the whole ecosystem working together so we’re excited to be part of this Android Things launch.”
Android Things compatible boards can bring benefit to developers in various ways including Google-certified firmware that can run on devices to perform bug fixes, provide automatic updates, ease integration into the Android framework, and allow access for developers to deploy and test their code.
“Developers can take their products, and embed these Android IoT boards into them,” said Martyn Humphries, VP of consumer and industrial applications processors at NXP. “By building on the Android framework, makers and device manufacturers can focus on the details of their product, and leave the low level implementation details and security updates up to Google.”