Google is shutting down Android Things, a stripped-down Android-based operating system for Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices, for non-commercial usage. The Android Things Console will not accept new non-commercial projects using NXP i.MX7D and Raspberry Pi 3B starting January 5th, 2021.
The console enables developers to push firmware updates to their devices. Developers will be able to continue using the console to manage projects, upload custom apps, download factory images, and deploy OTA (over-the-air) updates until January 5, 2022, at which point the console will be turned down completely. Google says “all project data will be permanently deleted — including build configurations and factory images.”
This has been coming since February 2019, when Google announced that it is refocusing Android Things as a platform for OEM partners to build smart speakers and smart displays. The company essentially ended support for developers using the platform to build other types of commercial devices.
At that time, Google said it would continue to offer Android Things as a platform for experimenting with and building smart, connected devices. That’s now coming to an end as well.
Google is shutting down Android Things for non-commercial usage
Google launched this IoT platform under the name Brillo in 2015. As the company often does, it soon renamed the project Android Things, pitching it as the OS for all kinds of smart home devices. Google was probably hoping that the underlying Android system would bring wide hardware compatibility and would be familiar to developers as well.
Google also prevented OEMs from modifying the OS. The company said security updates to devices would be centrally distributed by the company for three years. However, Android Things never proved popular in the IoT world. Google then turned to a pivot toward smart speakers and smart displays. It did try keeping Android Things alive for experimental, non-commercial usage. But seemingly it didn’t attract much interest from developers and Google has now decided to move on.
Back in May 2018, Google had promised security updates for three years for every Android Things device. However, the failure of the platform means it isn’t in a position to honor that promise any longer. According to the official release notes, Google last released an Android Things update in August 2019. That’s only a year and three months of support.
Unlike some of Google’s failed projects, Android Things won’t likely be missed much. The project never really took off and is soon going to be the latest entry in Google’s graveyard of dead projects.