Android Things Exits Beta, Production Boards Announced

It’s been a year and a half in the making, but Android Things 1.0 has finally been released, bundling three free years of OTA updates, and support for four production boards.

If you’ve been following Android Things, you’ll know that the Raspberry Pi 3 and the Technexion i.MX7-based Pico i.MX7D module have been used as development boards for Android Things. However, neither of these can be used for production. While assistance is provided for moving from prototype to production, Google’s Android Things license demands the use of any of the following:

  • InnoComm WB10-AT COM with quad-core Cortex-A53 NXP i.MX8M
  • Intrinsyc Open-Q 212A Qualcomm with quad-core Cortex-A7 Snapdragon 212
  • Open-Q 624A Cortex-A53 octa-core Snapdragon 624
  • MediaTek MT8516 quad-core Cortex-A53

Although these boards are bigger than expected, compute modules are assured at a later date, there will be smaller versions that should be ideal for compact projects and IoT applications.

Android Things 1.0 retains the Linux kernel, capable of being run on as little as 32MB RAM and streamlined for single application use. While a display is optional, there is an emphasis on audio, with Google Assistant focus. New software features include a console for building factory images, enabling OTA updates, and analytics. Bluetooth state management features have been added (the platform is easily connected to Wi-Fi) and Android Things 1.0 is cloud-aware by default.

Meanwhile, peripheral I/O APIs are introduced for GPIO, I2C, SPI, PWM, and UART, while drivers for sensors, location, input, and LoWPAN (Low-Power Wireless Personal Area Networks) are also included.

While commercial production of Androids Things projects of over 100 units will require a license, it should be noted that Android Things 1.0 is not open source. There is a good deal of proprietary code involved, which may prove to be a deal breaker for your project. Curiously, Android Things 1.0 could prove to be less open than Microsoft’s forthcoming Azure Sphere IoT operating system.

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