Google Advances Android Things Developer Preview

With the Internet of Things (IoT) growing by the minute, Google has released another developer preview of its Android Things platform, which helps developers build connected devices for many different consumer, retail and industrial applications.

The hardware-based development experience is similar to traditional Android mobile development, Google said, as it involves writing apps using the Android framework and tools. "All you need is a development board flashed with the Android Things OS and the required peripherals for your device," Google said in its preview documentation.

The company also has some advice for those wanting to move to hardware-based development. "If you've never developed an Android app, start by building your first Android mobile app," it said. "The basic concepts and general workflow of core Android development transfer over well to Android Things development. If you don't have a mobile device, the Android SDK comes with a software emulator."

The Android Things platform supports creating applications for such high-powered computing tasks such as audio and video processing, on-board machine learning leveraging the company's TensorFlow offering and more.

Google is attempting to boost the IoT-based functionality of its offerings to keep pace with competitors in the burgeoning space, including mobile archrival Apple, which recently unveiled its HomeKit, which, as its name suggests, targets the connection of home-based devices and services.

Android Things Platform Architecture
[Click on image for larger view.] Android Things Platform Architecture (source: Google)

In the new Android Things Developer Preview 6 (DP6), several new features were added, including an IoT launcher that lets developers inspect the current state of a device and tweak settings via a touch-screen or USB input device. "Settings such as configuring the WiFi, finding the build ID, and checking for updates is now something that can be done interactively, making it even easier to get started," the company said in a blog post Wednesday.

DP6 also eases the process of manually flashing and configuring a board with fastboot and adb commands, a task described as being "tedious" in developer feedback gained from previous previews. Now developers can use the Android Things Console to flash device images via an interactive command-line utility.

In the updates department, DP6 is now based on the latest Android 8.1 developer preview, with API level 27. Also, the platform's Google Play Services was upgraded to SDK version 11.6.

All these and many other changes are detailed in the release notes.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.