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Google Brings Android to Internet of Things

Less than a month after Microsoft announced an operating system built for Internet of Things (IoT) security, Google is releasing its own platform for IoT: Android Things.

The managed operating system was designed to provide manufacturers with all the ingredients for a winning IoT recipe: certified hardware, rich developer APIs, and secure managed software updates via Google’s infrastructure.

The platform has been in developer preview until this week, and has already registered over 100,000 SDK downloads, Google says. More than 10,000 developers have provided feedback on Android Things, ultimately leading to the platform’s initial release.

Android Things 1.0 was released with support for new System-on-Modules (SoMs) based on the NXP i.MX8M, Qualcomm SDA212, Qualcomm SDA624, and MediaTek MT8516 hardware platforms. Raspberry Pi 3 Model B and NXP i.MX7D devices (but not NXP i.MX6UL) will continue to be supported for development purposes.

“These modules are certified for production use with guaranteed long-term support for three years, making it easier to bring prototypes to market. Development hardware and reference designs for these SoMs will be available in the coming months,” Google says.

More important, however, is Google’s aim to provide devices running Android Things with timely software updates over-the-air (OTA). All devices will have automatic updates on by default, and stability fixes and security patches will arrive on production hardware platforms.

Currently, Google is releasing patches for Android devices on a monthly basis, in an attempt to improve the overall security stance of the platform. The company started delivering these monthly updates in 2015, after the Stagefright flaw was said to impact nearly one billion devices.

Android Things developers looking to ship commercial products running the new platform are required to sign a distribution agreement with Google to be able to deliver software updates to all devices (currently only 100 active devices are supported in the Android Things Console).

“For each long-term support version, Google will offer free stability fixes and security patches for three years, with additional options for extended support. Even after the official support window ends, you will still be able to continue to push app updates to your devices,” the Internet giant explains.

The Android Things Console also provides developers with the possibility to configure hardware peripherals.

Google has already partnered with leading manufacturers for the release of Android Things devices.  Thus, Smart Speakers from LG and iHome and Smart Displays from Lenovo, LG, and JBL are expected to arrive on shelves this summer.

Developers interested in building products running Android Things can apply for a special limited program to partner with the Android Things team for technical guidance and support.

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