Google Announces Android Things 1.0

Posted on May 7, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Internet of Things (IoT) with 32 Comments

Google Announces Android Things 1.0

On the eve of Google IO, and while Microsoft was talking up IoT at its own developer show, Google announced the release of Android Things 1.0, its own Android-based IoT platform.

“Android Things is Google’s managed OS that enables you to build and maintain Internet of Things devices at scale,” Google’s Dave Smith writes. “We provide a robust platform that does the heavy lifting with certified hardware, rich developer APIs, and secure managed software updates using Google’s back-end infrastructure, so you can focus on building your product.”

Given Microsoft’s own IoT platforms—Windows IoT Core/Enterprise and the more streamlined Azure Sphere—it is perhaps natural to compare Google’s offering to Microsoft’s.

And, as odd as this may seem, Microsoft seems to offer some important advantages over Google, which has struggled to gain acceptance of Android outside of smartphones. (This situation mirrors Microsoft’s issues with Windows on non-PC devices, when you think about it.)

More specifically, Android Things lacks several of the key advantages of Azure Sphere, most notably Microsoft’s focus on security as a service.

But it’s not just security: Where Microsoft supports Azure Sphere for ten years, Google is offering only three years of “guaranteed” support, and notes that customers will have to pay for extended support beyond that.

Microsoft’s platform is also available on devices with much smaller footprints. As Brad Smith noted at the Azure Sphere announcement, the chipsets that support this system are fingernail sized. But Android Things runs on comparatively humongous board PCs like Raspberry Pi in addition to a new generation of “system on a module” (SOM) chipsets. These will likely be more comparable to Azure Sphere.

So we’ll see what happens here. But it does seem that Microsoft’s offering is at least competitive, if not superior. And that Google, for all the success of Android, faces even bigger obstacles than Microsoft does in this new market.

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Comments (32)

32 responses to “Google Announces Android Things 1.0”

  1. dontbe evil

    "And, as odd as this may seem, Microsoft seems to offer some important advantages over Google, which has struggled to gain acceptance of Android outside of smartphones."

    this website becomes everyday more unprofessional

    • Kudupa

      In reply to dontbe_evil:

      Don't be a fan boy and it's not unprofessional. Paul is pointing out the obvious and people do prefer Google services to anything offered by MS. This is a new area of fight and both companies are leveraging what they ha e to fight with.

      • jrickel96

        In reply to Kudupa:

        Wouldn't say they prefer them. They don't really think there are any viable alternatives. Google is viewed much like MS was in the 90s. There are things that people appreciate, but they have a lot of underlying concerns.

        The security and privacy stance is a good tact to take. Google can't really do much there and hope to maintain strong profits due to their reliance on ad revenue. Apple and MS working together to craft some aggressive privacy standards and put pressure on Google would be a wise play for both. It also would damage Amazon a bit, but not as badly as Google.

        That's where issues lie with IoT. People rely on Google for search and for their phones - do they really want to give them any more personal info?

      • Bats

        In reply to Kudupa:

        Microsoft is not going to win. Other than the unpopular Xbox, what does Microsoft have to offer?

        How's the Harman Kardon doing? Success or huge failure? How about that Cortana thermostat? 

        You can't even begin to compare the smart ecosystem of Microsoft and Google's. Google's Nest products are fantastic! Android TV is, hands down, the best streaming player in the market. Perhaps one can make a case for Fire TV, but Android TV has got the Google Assistant. The reason why i say this can be summed up in one word: Kodi. As for Google Home, it's only the smartest speaker in the market. Alexa is okay, but she's not as smart as The Google Assistant, and that's a fact.

        In addition to what I just stated, Google is even embedding itself on other products like third party televisions and other home appliances. Where's Microsoft?

        As far, as I am concerned Microsoft Build is just fantasy pie-in-the sky talk. Microsoft will tell you that they "working" with partners. I know this because....they have done it before. As for Google, they've already done the work and products are about to be released. 

        This is the difference between Microsoft and Google. No one cares about the platform, IoT is running on. What they care about is that the IoT is working for them. For Microsoft, all they can offer is just a "dream."

        • Tony Barrett

          In reply to Bats:

          I agree. Microsoft's 'ambitions' for IoT are them just dreaming. Nobody will use MS for IoT. MS are a dinosaur who's heading for extinction. They just can't maneuver as fast as the rest, they don't have there own mobile ecosystem to carry it, they don't have an OS that can scale down that far, they don't have consumer confidence behind their products, no matter how long they say they'll be supported for. Manufacturers will go where the consumer demand is, and very, very few people ask for Microsoft. They only get Windows because MS have made sure of this, but Windows itself is on a slow downward spiral, no matter what MS do to it. MS are now so far behind, nothing they do will make any difference.

        • Martin Klimke

          In reply to Bats:

          It is ridiculous to mention Kodi in this context. Kodi is a product for computer nerds which will never be used as a mainstream product. After 15 years of development a decent commerial version is still missing and the versions which are distributed are full of bugs.

        • Stooks

          In reply to Bats:

          I never agree with you, but this time you are dead on.

          There are lots and lots of IoT devices out there today. I have two friends, both have their own companies, and they do nothing but home/SMB automation, mostly for more wealthier people. IoT is exploding and right now. NOTHING runs on Microsoft.

          Any non-apple device is running some form of Android/Linux. Apple devices are running Unix. For the privacy minded people it is HomeKit and since Apple now allows software home kit API's the device list has begun to grow super fast. For those that don't care about privacy as much it is some form Linux/Android/Google/Amazon device.

          There are simply NO Microsoft options in this world right now. Just like Mobile, I think it is too late already.

        • VancouverNinja

          In reply to Bats:

 are way off base. Microsoft's announcements today put miles between them and anyone else for IoT. I also called the Alexa/Cortana hook up as the best overall solution and I think Google and Apple are now going to struggle to match the capabilities of both Alexa and Cortana. Why wouldn't you just buy Alexa or a Cortana device? You lose out on nothing but you gain way more. Now Alexa is part of Windows as well - a huge coup over Google who refuses to support their users on Windows. Think of the third parties out there going with a Google Assistant device you get one voice AI - if they go with either Alexa or Cortana you get two...yikes not a good position for Google or Apple.

          Sorry but Google just got severely pawned by Microsoft. Also Google's aggressive stance against Windows is now hurting them - officially.

          • Rickard Eriksson

            In reply to VancouverNinja:

            Sorry but why would anyone outside off the US ever use Cortana?

            With the god awful functionality outside of the US its more or less DOA before it even has been released with full functionality on the market.

          • Stooks

            In reply to VancouverNinja:

            "Why wouldn't you just buy Alexa or a Cortana device?"

            What Cortona devices? There are none. No one is using a computer to do this stuff, IoT is are small devices that automate stuff. Why would anyone using a Alexa powered device, EVER ask Cortona to do anything? Heck I bet 80% of Alexa owning consumers have NO idea what Cortona is.

            • VancouverNinja

              In reply to Stooks:

              You are missing it completely.

              Cortana is now going to be number #1 for deployments along with Alexa. There is no bad in that and there is going to be a raft of these boomboxes, IoT devices that support them both from now on. It is simply anywhere Alexa is and vis versa man. It is that simple. Google has got to be choked at this and as Cortana continues to evolve you get to use the best features of both of them - totally fricken awesome!

              Then there is the extra bonus of Office being coupled tightly to Cortana. Alexa along with Cortana is worth way more than just Google Assistant and yet the cost is the same or less. Alex and Cortana > Google Assistant or Siri.

              • Stooks

                In reply to VancouverNinja:

                "Cortana is now going to be number #1 for deployments along with Alexa. "

                Ummm really? How, why, who is asking or wanting for this? Will the Echo now respond to Cortona requests? Who would even know to ask?

                Honestly this means nothing IMHO. Amazon got paid by Microsoft to do this and in the end it won't even matter. Cortona is dead, just like Windows Mobile, Groove, Band and many other late to the party Microsoft projects.

                "Then there is the extra bonus of Office being coupled tightly to Cortana."

                Because people are constantly asking Alexa questions about Office documents?

                • VancouverNinja

                  In reply to Stooks:

                  Ridonkulous Stooky "Amazon got paid by Microsoft to do this " . Everyone already knows the story that Bezo directly called Satya to do it together. If you did not know Bezos pursued recruiting Nadella hard for years. There is much mutual respect between those guys. Bezos pulled off coup here.

                  Not going to get into a base, and circular, discussion over the value of Cortana along with Alexa. That is now the most powerful AI voice platform for the industry to match and/or beat. End of the discussion. Google has messed up and the longer they act like Windows is not a platform to support the bigger the damage is going to be to their aspirations.

                • curtisspendlove

                  In reply to Stooks:

                  “Because people are constantly asking Alexa questions about Office documents?”

                  You mean you *don’t* find yourself in the middle of cooking dinner wondering whether the last quarter earnings charts hockey-sticked?


                • VancouverNinja

                  In reply to curtisspendlove:

                  Nope but I have been in the kitchen and wanted info from Outlook ?

                • Stooks

                  In reply to curtisspendlove:

                  Yeah it goes like this...

                  "Alexa, ask Cortona to open and read me off the Excel spreadsheet Third Quarter earnings charts _ 02"

                  Google IO starts today and every one will quickly forget about the Alexa/Cortana foot note.

                  I watched Paul and Sam's quick recap about yesterday and when they got to this Alexa/Cortana merger of sorts, they were way less than thrilled, Sam said its super slow and the useful functionality of it was too be determined. By the time the figure it out (Microsoft) the world will have blazed past them in this area, just like mobile.

  2. skane2600

    I think the size of chipsets is a red herring. We've had fingernail sized computing for decades. It's really about the physical connections and the need to have separate modules for flexibility that drives the size of these platforms. Not to mention that you typically want a non-optimized physical layout during development that can be shrunk and component-reduced once you understand precisely what is needed for a production unit.

  3. woelfel

    I think there's a great missing piece...PRIVACY!

    • VancouverNinja

      In reply to woelfel:

      Privacy will be at the decision of the company deploying the solutions. MS is ensuring the security but they will not be in control of other companies privacy policies. There is only so much they can do...?

      • wright_is

        In reply to VancouverNinja:

        Privacy will be at the decision of the person buying the products. Unfortunately, they will have to inform themselves about privacy and what the products they are buying does with their collected data.

        That said, most of my family won't use any IoT devices or voice assistants...

        • VancouverNinja

          In reply to wright_is:

          You are correct, but the point was that the privacy issue does not reside with Microsoft but the vendor that is utilizing their IoT platform. Hopefully in the end the user can control it fully.

  4. Stooks

    "Where Microsoft supports Azure Sphere for ten years, Google is offering only three years of “guaranteed” support, and notes that customers will have to pay for extended support beyond that."

    At the current crazy rapid pace of IoT device growth, 3 years will seem like 10 if not more. It is all about the 3rd party support. Who will be building devices for Microsofts IoT world and who will build for Google's IoT world?

    • Daekar

      In reply to Stooks:

      I have to disagree with you here. For IoT to become a viable market, the devices MUST achieve a longer service life than the disposable tech items we usually focus on. I'll buy a new phone every two years and build a new PC every 5, but you can bet your bottom that I won't be changing out my light switches, bulbs, refrigerators, bulbs, bulbs, security cameras, locks, or anything else every 3 years because Google can't be bothered to support their own platform.

    • Matthias Kraßnitzer

      In reply to Stooks: As the main goal of this IoT devices is, to be build into everything in your house, from thermostat to door locks and security cameras, light switches, light balls and night clocks and everything in between, the lifecycle of this devices seems very critical from the beginning, since people most probably wouldn't like to change every three years hundreds of smart devices in their house. I don't think the growth of the device market does have to do much with that.

    • VancouverNinja

      In reply to Stooks:

      Doesn't change the fact that in 3 years Google can demand money for further support whereas MS will support their platform for 10 years. A huge deal to big business and even to small business.

  5. rameshthanikodi

    Android Things has nothing to do with Android (or what people think of as Android) itself. They're just using the Android brand in hopes of springboarding this.

    And you can be sure that just like Android Wear, they will rebrand this into ThingsOS.

  6. red.radar

    Google spent 2 hrs in a conference room a baked this up as a response to azure sphere .

    nothing to see yet, this is just google acknowledging they have been flanked.

  7. VancouverNinja

    I don't even understand how Google can compete with Microsoft in this category. It looks like MS has done a stellar job of putting together a superb IoT platform.

    • Skolvikings

      In reply to VancouverNinja:

      How about we see it first? I'm fully optimistic, but both MS and Google's offerings are vaporware at this point. I'm reserving final judgement until I see them actually ship code/product and can compare the actual offerings.