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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Google merges Brillo, Weave and Android to create an operating system for the Internet of Things

By Nick Flaherty

An important new player has emerged into the embedded world of the Internet of Things. After a few years on the back-burner, Google has taken its Brillo  operating system and combined it with the Weave communications protocol and Android's app infrastructure to make it quicker and easier to develop software for the IoT.

"We're releasing a Developer Preview of Android Things, a comprehensive way to build IoT products with the power of Android,"said Wayne Piekarski, Developer Advocate for IoT. 

"Now any Android developer can quickly build a smart device using Android APIs and Google services, while staying highly secure with updates direct from Google," he said. "We incorporated the feedback from Project Brillo to include familiar tools such as Android Studio, the Android Software Development Kit (SDK), Google Play Services, and Google Cloud Platform. And in the coming months, we will provide Developer Preview updates to bring you the infrastructure for securely pushing regular OS patches, security fixes, and your own updates, as well as built-in Weave connectivity and more."
There are several turnkey hardware solutions available already such as Intel's Edison, NXP's Pico board and the Raspberry Pi 3. These can easily scale to large production runs with custom designs, while continuing to use the same Board Support Package (BSP) from Google.

Google has also updated the Weave platform to make it easier for all types of devices to connect to the cloud and interact with services like the Google Assistant. Device makers like Philips Hue and Samsung SmartThings already use Weave, and several others like Belkin WeMo, LiFX, Honeywell, Wink, TP-Link, and First Alert are implementing it. Weave provides all the cloud infrastructure, so that developers can focus on building their products without investing in cloud services. 

Weave also includes a Device SDK for supported microcontrollers and a management console and this currently supports schemas for light bulbs, smart plugs and switches, and thermostats. In the coming months Google will be adding support for additional device types, custom schemas/traits, and a mobile application API for Android and iOS. 

This is a good compromise between the flexibility of the Android platform, based on Java, and the tight latency and storage requirements of embedded designs. The Android Services will help with discovery and software resources to make development faster and easier, while the Weve connectivity to the cloud will greatly simplify these applications.

This is just the beginning of the IoT ecosystem Google wants to build. It is is also working towards merging Weave and Nest Weave to enable all classes of devices to connect with each other in a secure and reliable way. To get started, check out Google's IoT developer site, or go directly to the Android Things, Weave, and Google Cloud Platform sites for documentation and code samples. Google's IoT Developers Community on Google+ also has the latest updates and share and discuss ideas with other developers.

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