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article imageAndroid Things wants to make the Internet of Things actually work

By James Walker     Dec 15, 2016 in Technology
Google has unveiled a new operating system aimed specifically at the Internet of Things (IoT). The aptly named "Android Things" is designed to make it easier for connected devices to seamlessly integrate with each other. It also cleans up IoT security.
Android Things has evolved from an earlier Google project known as Brillo. The company said it has taken feedback from Brillo to build the more robust Android Things. The new platform is available in Developer Preview form from today, letting manufacturers consider using Android Things in their devices.
The new operating system is essentially what its name suggests: a scaled-down version of Android designed to run on anything from smart thermostats and CCTV cameras to lightbulbs and plug sockets. It's not a platform you'll ever get to directly interact with. It works on your behalf in the background, keeping your smart home running.
At launch, Android Things is compatible with IoT devices and boards including the Raspberry Pi 3, Intel Edison and NXP Pico. These developer-friendly computers will let developers try out Android Things and begin building apps compatible with it.
Google has worked to simplify the creation process, overcoming one of Brillo's major limitations. Android Things services can be built using the same Android development tools that developers are already familiar with, reducing the learning curve and making it simpler to build support into existing solutions.
Android Things will include full support for Google's existing Cloud Platform and Play Services infrastructure. This leaves Google free to issue regular updates to Things devices, including frequent security patches. A robust update model could allow Things to lift IoT out of the quagmire of dangerous vulnerabilities and zero-day exploits it's become associated with.
Google is evidently intending Things to do for IoT what Android did for smartphones. It's not the first IoT platform around but it could go a long way towards consolidating the various fragmented ecosystems in use today. Any manufacturer will be able to build on Android Things and create companion apps for Android and iOS.
Google is also updating its Weave IoT communications platform to simplify the connection process and allow smart devices to integrate with the Google Assistant. Weave is already being used by third-party ecosystems including Philips Hue and Samsung SmartThings. It's a protocol that enables IoT products to work seamlessly together.
By combining the concepts behind Brillo with Weave and its existing cloud infrastructure, Google is aiming to create an IoT platform that could finally kick-start the smart home revolution. Google's been anticipating the connected future for years, first unveiling "Android@Home" back in 2011. It's come a long way since then and said it is planning more for the months ahead.
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