Google is billing Android Things Developer Preview 8 as a release candidate. The final preview, available now, includes the final set of APIs for Google's IoT platform ahead of its stable 1.0 release. The preview also debuts new behaviors in the Android Things Developer Console. Here's what's new.
Android Things is Google's fledgling internet-of-things operating system. It is meant to bring the power of Android to smart devices such as television sets, speakers, thermostats, and more. The company debuted several such products at CES earlier this year. Unless some major bugs are unearthed, this latest build of Android Things is likely to be the final version pushed to developers when Google says the platform is 100% ready. In other words, it's time to put the SDK and associated APIs to work.
Google says the APIs in Android Things Developer Preview 8 are in final form. Google insists there will be no more breaking API changes before the v1.0 release of the Android Things SDK.
There are plenty of additions and changes to the APIs the release candidate, and Google recommends developers familiarize themselves with the alterations.The release candidate adds support for setting Bluetooth I/O capabilities via the BluetoothConfigManager API and Google has updated the Bluetooth guide with more details. Google refactored the InputDriver API to support a more flexible range of input types. It also added support for the WifiP2pManager API for managing WiFi-based peer-to-peer connections.
On the flip side, the release candidate drops the ScreenManager API. Google suggests developers use the default Android Windows APIs to adjust parameters such as screen brightness and orientation.
Apps for Android Things will need to put the Peripheral I/O APIs to use, which are now required so end users can view and agree to app permissions.
In addition to the API changes, Google has updated the Android Things developer console n the hope that it will ease the process of building and managing IoT devices. For example, it has enhanced OTA updates, which can be fine-tuned to unpublished the current OTA if issues are discovered in the build. The visual storage layout lets developers configure device storage and how it is allocated to apps and data for those aps. More importantly, it lets developers glean an overview of how much storage their apps require. The release candidate also brings new font controls to the field, allowing developers to configure the set of supported fonts and locals specific to each build. Group sharing is now extended to include support for Google Groups.
The Android Things developer console has a new library that Google says lets developers more easily manage their APKs without the need to package them into separate zipped bundles. Moreover, developers can track individual builds, review permissions, and share their apps with other console users.
Last, Google has made changes to how embedded devices will work. Moving forward, embedded devices need to launch their primary application automatically after the device boots. In earlier previews, the main app could listen for intents to trigger this behavior. Now apps will need to launch by default.
As always, Google hopes its developer community will provide feedback to ensure that the release candidate fo Android Things is tip-top before the v1.0 SDK is released.