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Google Shows Its IoT Smarts With Launch Of Android Things Operating System

Android Things aims to help make it easier for hardware and software developers to create IoT products with the same Android APIs and Google services they're accustomed to.

In an effort to make it easier for developers to build Internet of Things devices, Google has revamped and rebranded its Brillo software as a new IoT operating system called Android Things.

Android Things, which is available now as a developer preview, mixes together Brillo with Android developer tools, Google cloud computing services, and support for Google's IoT communication platform, Weave.

"We're releasing a developer preview of Android Things, a comprehensive way to build IoT products with the power of Android, one of the world's most supported operating systems," Wayne Piekarski, developer advocate for IoT at Google, wrote in a statement. "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."

[Related: 5 Ways Google's Brillo OS Will Transform Home Automation]

This is the first update Mountain View, Calif.-based Google has made to its IoT operating system since it launched Brillo, which was built to give smart capabilities to consumer homes, in 2015. Android Things aims to help make it easier for hardware and software developers to create IoT products with the same Android APIs -- such as Android Studio and the Android Software Development Kit – and Google services that they're currently accustomed to.

Google also will update its Weave platform to make it easier to connect to the cloud and interact with services such as the Google Assistant, Piekarski said.

Weave, which provides cloud infrastructure so that developers can build their products without needing to worry about investing in cloud services, currently supports schemas for light bulbs, switches, smart plugs and thermostats. In the coming months, Google will add support for additional device types, custom schemas, and a mobile application API for Android and iOS, he said.

Michael Oh, founder and CTO of TSP, a Boston-based solution provider that specializes in home automation, said the news is a "continuation of Google getting more entrenched in the Internet of Things ecosystem."

"It’s a smart move," he said. " Google's IoT ecosystem is very strong. The company has all these developers that are developing for the Android platform on mobile, and now Google is trying to take that energy and move it toward the Internet of Things. Those developers can create devices and services around IoT as well."

Google has made several steps over the years to get ahead in the smart home market, a space that Apple has set its eyes on with its HomeKit development platform.

In 2014, Google first dipped into the home automation market by acquiring Nest, a home automation company that designs and manufactures Wi-Fi-enabled, programmable home features like thermostats and smoke detectors. In 2015, the company launched its Weave communications system alongside Brillo.

The home automation market is expected to grow quickly over the next few years. Up to $40 billion will be spent on home automation in 2020, up from $24 billion in 2016, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.

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