Android Things is Google's new platform for building IoT devices

Chromecast Ultra next to a Google Home
Chromecast Ultra next to a Google Home (Image credit: Android Central)

The attempt at a grand unification of "internet of things" devices is mostly a dream, but that isn't stopping big companies like Google from making an honest go of it. The latest initiative from Google to create and unify the internet of things takes its current Brillo and Weave standards and adds more parts to create one platform: Android Things.

Android Things logo

Google describes Android Things as "a comprehensive way to build IoT products with the power of Android," and of course that sounds very familiar to its stance on letting manufacturers use Android to build phones, tablets, TV boxes and more. Android Things is effectively a rebranding and expansion of its previous Brillo platform, which itself was a stripped-down version of Android designed for IoT device.

You can now develop IoT devices right where you already develop apps.

So what's the change? Well, the biggest difference is that hardware and software developers can now create IoT devices using the same Android APIs and Google Services they already know. Android Things is now available to work with inside of Android Studio with the Android SDK, Google Play Services and Google Cloud Platform. Google will also start releasing updates to Android Things similarly to how it handles other Android releases, with patches and security fixes. In many ways this turns IoT development into a first-class citizen right next to creating apps for Android phones and tablets.

Of course there's a hardware angle to all of this, and Google is quick to point out the handful of turnkey solutions available for you to buy and start developing on, including Intel's Edison kit and the Raspberry Pi 3. Qualcomm also announced today that it intends to work with Google to make sure Android Things works properly with Snapdragon processors.

Considering how weakly Brillo has been received since its introduction in 2015, it's not surprising that Google made a big effort to make developing for IoT devices more like developing for other types of Android. By bringing Android Things into the core Android development experience, many barriers have been dropped and more hardware developers can experiment with using Google's platform first. Google already has a Developer Preview of Android Things available, if you want to take a look.

Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

  • I hope that this means that IoT devices will finally have some standard security.
  • If Google were in charge of giving a product name to sashimi, it would be called "cold, dead fish".
  • This thing is going nowhere. The oem's learned a valuable lessons with Android, if you don't own the software stack, then you are rip open for the eventual Chinese oem's. So, none of the big players will adopt this, everyone of them will simply develop their own software stock to be able to lock users in. Samsung already have their own IOT platform ARTIK so they are not going to be onboard with this. They want to be like Apple by owning every part of the stack, with Android they don't. They are nothing but a box shipper at this point with Android (although the biggest one). This will suffer the same fate as Brillo in the end. The big players won't adapt it. Why, hand google that also. It will suck for the users, but great for the vendors. The iPhone caught everyone with their pants down and all the oem's had no choice but to go with Android, that is not the case here. There simply is no incentives for them to adapt/accept Google version when they have been working on their own.
  • Well at least it got a decent name. At least it isn't Android Red or something Haha. I'm excited for this.
  • hopefully, we will hear some exciting products during CES or Google IO.
  • I am so over IoT. This is wearables all over again.
  • I am working on a network of BLE sensors for the home (BLE Nanos from sparkfun). They can work like "iBeacons", that just broadcast every 10 seconds, temperature, "is door closed/locked" status (using simple copper foil switches), or "is water detected" (near various places of concern). These will run forever on a 3v cell, drawing < 10uA), I just drop them in glass or plastic jars for the enclosure. A raspberry pi 3 picks all these advertisements up and sends out alerts to my smartphone if water is leaking, the hot tub is in danger of freeze (lost power), etc, doors are left open/unlocked. I am now going to use android things on the raspberry pi for that.