Internet of Things

Google's Android Things is here, boosting security for enterprise IoT deployments

After three years, Google's Android-based IoT platform is ready for primetime. Learn how to get started.

Ahead of Google I/O 2018, Google has released version 1.0 of its IoT device platform Android Things, formerly known as Brillo. As would be expected of an IoT platform, Android Things is intended for low-power devices with limited processing and storage workloads.

One of the core points of Android Things is to ensure devices are shipped with secured and hardened software stacks, and that timely security updates are delivered to devices without the need for users to proactively manage security updates for their devices. By default, devices built on Android Things receive security updates in automated, staged updates—one week after release, 10% of devices will be receive an update, with all devices receiving a given update after two weeks, according to the release notes. This applies to security updates and minor point releases, not major version updates, though device manufacturers can still disable this should they choose to.

The release brings support for the NXP i.MX8M, Qualcomm SDA212, Qualcomm SDA624, and MediaTek MT8516 modules, which Google touts in the release as being "certified for production use with guaranteed long-term support for three years."

Additionally, NXP Pico i.MX7D and Raspberry Pi Model 3 B are supported as development platforms, but because they do not meet Google's security requirements, these platforms are intended only for prototyping and testing purposes.

SEE: Hiring kit: IoT developer (Tech Pro Research)

Ensuring a long life for Android Things modules is a high priority for Google, as the three year guarantee is followed by as-of-yet unspecified extended support options. Naturally, developers can continue to ship updates after the module reaches the end of the support lifetime.

Independent developers can get started at the Android Developers website. The Things-certified NXP Pico i.MX7D starter kit is available from TechNexion for $199, thought the Raspberry Pi can also be used as a development board. The Android Things console can be used to administer up to 100 devices for non-commercial use, the release said, though developers looking to ship a commercial product will be required to sign a distribution agreement to remove that limitation.

Android Things was first previewed at Google I/O 2015. A year later, support for the Raspberry Pi 3 was added as a development board, and the "Brillo" moniker was dropped around the same time. Last month, Android Things Developer Preview 8 was released with finalized APIs, making this month's release of the official 1.0 release unexpected, yet still somewhat overdue, given the length of time between initial announcement and general availability.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • After three years, Google has released version 1.0 of Android Things.
  • The Android Things platform focuses on security, as security updates are automatically applied by default.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/metamorworks

About James Sanders

James Sanders is a Tokyo-based programmer and technology journalist. Since 2013, he has been a regular contributor to TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research.

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