Google Quietly Kills Android Things
Written by Mike James   
Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Google is well known for killing projects that we all know, love and rely on, but in the case of Android Things I'm not shedding a tear. An ill-conceived project from the start, but still - so little warning.

In fact so far there isn't any warning at all, apart from the banner at the top of the website:

Androidthings1

So no new projects after January 5th and a year after that your existing projects will no longer be supported - "turned down" is an odd phrase. Is this the new "sunsetting"?

There was a clear hint about the way things were heading back in February 2019 when we reported on the change in "focus" of the project and the dropping of images for a range of popular boards, including the Raspberry Pi. In fact, if you take this into account, it has taken Google rather a long time to notice that the operating system wasn't going anywhere.

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The FAQs make it clear that there will be no support for future support or development and you are encouraged to move on to either Cloud IoT Core, Google Assistant or Nest Device Access - all of which have their attractions, but none of them are general-purpose IoT operating systems or environments. Android Things was one of the few efforts by a big company to create an IoT operating system, but it was pretty much doomed from the start.

Of course, we can't know the exact reasons why, but Harry Fairhead wrote previously:

"The big problem was that the Things team interpreted security to mean that user space software shouldn't have direct access to GPIO lines and memory. This effectively made Things very slow - even flashing a few LEDs directly was a tough challenge."

"An IoT programmer expects to get full access to the machine's hardware and this was not possible using Things. Security in the IoT world means making sure nasty things can't get into the user space and is all about controlling access from the outside world not the inside world. When asked if it was possible to optionally drop the tight security so that the hardware could be used creatively, the answer was that it would be unthinkable - it seemed to matter more that security was seen to be done rather than it making any sense."

There were also many other problems - it was slow to reach a reasonable release; one of its most attractive boards, the Intel Curie, was dropped, leaving only a small number of supported devices; and so on. It's a shame to see it go because Google has the resources to do the job properly.

Once upon a time, the fact that a big entity had backed a project was some assurance that it might have a future. Google has certainly changed that expectation.

spookygoogle

More Information

Android Things

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 23 December 2020 )