Android Things refocus on smart speakers and displays

    At the end of 2016, Google introduced an updated platform for the Internet of Things, called Android Things. Then it was announced that this platform supports the development of Android, the creators were going to gradually add new devices, including ntel Joule 570x, NXP Argon i.MX6UL and others.

    Now the project management has decided to change its positioning. So instead of the entire spectrum of Internet of Things devices, the platform will only support smart speakers and displays: “By fixing the success that we and our partners have achieved in the field of smart speakers and displays, we change the direction of work and focus only on these two categories.”

    Earlier, Android Things was something of a specialized platform for IoT devices. The goal was to create a fast operating system that could be used to control Internet systems. Thus, it was possible to solve the problem of fragmentation of software platforms for Internet-things devices.

    Almost every developer now considers it necessary to create his own program shell for his IoT device. There are many of them, and most of them have only basic protection against external threats. Android is relatively well protected from them, so it was hoped that with the advent of Android Things, the situation with IoT gadgets and their protection would improve significantly.

    Those systems that would be under the control of the new OS would receive centralized updates, including security updates. Now the developers of proprietary devices update them as a god per soul put, in some cases, updates do not go out at all. And as a hardware vendor, you wouldn’t need to worry about the software part - Google would take all this on itself. Android Things was supposed to be a kind of center for small-scale electronics.

    Unfortunately, not all plans have been implemented. The OS itself, which was announced several years ago, received version 1.0 only nine months ago. Until this point, the company conducted only large-scale testing of its product.

    Well, the first commercial product that came with Android Things was the Lenovo Smart Display.

    Why didn't it work out?

    Some experts believe that Android Things was too “heavy” for small gadgets. Low-power devices simply cannot work with this OS, even if it is “light” compared to Adnroid. Google has not put on the market any of its own device with Adnroid Things. Some of the smart gadgets that she presented worked on the basis of the Google Cast Platform - the software platform that Chromecast runs.

    The OS supports “System on Module” (SoM) - boards, the characteristics of which, although not too high, are also not very powerful. Snapdragon 212 CPU, 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB of internal memory - quite good.

    What's next?

    Since Google has achieved major successes with Android Things with smart speakers and displays, it was decided to stop at this stage. System modules based on chips such as NXP, Qualcomm and MediaTek will not be supported in the future.

    NXP i.MX7D and Raspberry Pi 3B will remain in the list of supported devices, so that developers can create new solutions on this base. Images for boards can be obtained using the Adnroid Things console . Through the console you can manage a maximum of hundreds of devices if we talk about the non-commercial version of the platform.

    Well, for other IoT devices, the corporation offers the Cloud IoT Core service for the future Cloud IoT Edge environment.. In addition, Google promises to develop specialized boards for applications that use machine learning technology.

    Well, do not forget about the (still) experimental Fuchsia OS. Bloomberg journalists reported that Fuchsia will enter the market for software platforms for consumer devices in 2021.

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