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.