Google this week released the first preview of its Android Things Console, the tool it hopes developers will use to create and manage internet-of-things devices and services. Google has lots of guidance concerning how it expects things will best proceed. Here's what you need to know.
To start, Android Things is really Google's Brillo IoT platform with a more Google-y name. Google rebranded Brillo to Android Things in late 2016. The new console is Google's first effort to bring everything under one, more encompassing roof. The Android Things Console is the master gate through which all things must pass.
Google says developers will need to download and install the console before they can work directly on IoT projects. The console then allows developers to download Android Things system images and install them on the things in question. This is vital, as Android Things Developer Preview 5 will arrive soon.
The first step involves defining a product, according to Wayne Piekarski, Developer Advocate for IoT at Google. This includes picking a name and the type of System-on-Module on which the thing will be based. As a developer, it's important to know ahead of time if you want to use Google Play Services for your IoT device. Selecting support for Play Services is one of the initial steps involved, and mandate that you size the OEM partition appropriately in order to accommodate growth of the APK.
With these high level decisions made, it's time to install the initial bit of firmware. This is critical, as it denotes the type of product and how/when it will receive core firmware updates down the line.
"For starters, you can simply use 'Create Build Configuration' to build a default factory image with an empty bundle that is configured for your product," explained Piekarski. "This factory image can then be downloaded and flashed to your device, and you can start developing on it by sideloading an APK."
Afterward, once you have configured the first version of your IoT app, you can upload the entire bundle to the console. The bundle is condensed and includes the main APK file and a boot animation file. You can read more about the bundle here.
Developers will notice an "OTA Updates" tab within the console. This gives developers direct control over the exact system image that's sent to the IoT devices in question. It's pretty simple: select the version, and then hit "Push to Devices." The console takes care of the rest. Google says any misfires in the update process will see those devices automatically roll back to the previously working version.
As always, Google wants your feedback. The Android Things Console is in preview form, so you are bound to encounter bugs that Google wants to know about. Be sure to help by filing bug reports and providing other feedback.