Google’s Internet of Things (IoT) version of Android, Android Things, has been updated to Developer Preview 3. The platform, built on Android but in a much more stripped down version to work with smaller memory and hardware footprints, has been in Preview mode for well over a year now with the latest update bringing some much needed features for the platform. The idea behind Things is that, if you are a developer on Android today, you can develop on Android Things and create IoT devices. In other words, you don’t have to learn another coding language.
Perhaps the biggest new feature is support for Android Bluetooth APIs. Developers can now write to these APIs, both the Bluetooth classic and Bluetooth LE stacks, just as they can in full Android. Bluetooth is expected to be a critical part of the development of IoT so having this support on board is great to see for developers.
Another big new feature in this update is USB Host support.
Android version 3.1 and later supports USB Host, which allows a regular user space application to communicate with USB devices without root privileges or support needed from the Linux kernel. This functionality is now supported in Android Things, to enable interfacing with custom USB devices.
If you have ever connected up your Android Phone to your PC or Mac, you have seen USB Host pop-up on your phone asking you what you want to do (Charge, transfer files, etc.). That’s the same underlying code that has been introduced in DP3 and will pave the way for accessing IoT devices via USB for updates or manipulation.
By Google’s own estimates discussed at last month’s Google Cloud Next event in San Francisco, there will be 20 to 40 billion IoT devices in the world by 2020. Having a known language to develop these devices is critical to their success and given Android’s position in the smartphone market, it makes sense for Google to make it available for IoT.
You can read more about DP3 of Android Things at the Google Developer Blog.
Curious about IoT in general? I highly recommend checking out Stacey Higginbotham’s site, Stacey on IoT. There you will find a wealth of information covering all things IoT along with a weekly podcast that she does with co-host Kevin Tofel and guests.