Google pushes Android Things to Developer Preview 6

Google pushes Android Things to DP6

Search and cloud computing giant Google has launched the developer preview version 6 (DP6) of its Android Things offering.

Billed as an IoT platform, Google’s Android Things is intended to provide developers with a way to build connected devices for many consumer, retail and industrial applications, from smart locks to sensor control systems. 

The latest developer preview of the platform (DP6) irons out some bugs and offers a selection of new features.

Internet of Business has been tracking Android Things since its launch this time last year, and understands that Google intends to position this technology as a means of coding device applications with functions including video and audio processing.

Plans also include the option to enable on-board machine learning using TensorFlow, an open-source software library for machine intelligence.

Read more: Google launches Android Things, a new IoT platform for developers

Launching a launcher

According to Wayne Piekarski, Google developer advocate for IoT, DP6 includes a new ‘IoT launcher’ that allows the user to see the current state of a device and change settings using a touchscreen or USB input devices.

“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,” he said.

Android users have become increasingly used to the notion of ‘launchers’, by virtue of the success of Google’s ‘Now’ launcher for Android. A launcher can perhaps be best described as a software ‘overlay’ designed to provide a new core graphical user interface (GUI) in a defined functionality style.

Read more: Sophos unveils Android Things and Windows 10 IoT device management capabilities

More granular IoT controls

Android Things uses the open-source SwiftShader library, a CPU-based implementation of the OpenGL ES application programming interface (API). Google executives say this enables common OpenGL support across all platforms, even those with no GPU hardware.

“New APIs have been added to Android Things that control the configuration of the local device and device updates. UpdateManager gives developers control over when updates and reboots can be performed, ensuring the device is available for the user when needed,” Piekarski explained. “DeviceManager controls factory reset, reboot, and device locales. APIs are also provided for settings such as ScreenManager to control the screen and TimeManager to control the clock and timezone.”

So developer-centric from the start  – yes. But what Google has done in this latest round of updates is to give more defined pointers on what type of core functionality controls are needed in IoT devices and offer more guidelines to developers on the kind of IoT programming that Google says it champions.

Read more: Volvo teams up with Google to put Android into connected cars

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