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.