In May this year Google launched a spinoff of it’s Android operating system for appliances and other machines. Google is calling the spinoff “Android Things” and this could bring Google’s virtual assistant to refrigerators and even vending machines.
The apparent goal is to have Android Things make other machines built faster, cheaper and more secure. The plan is to have a consistent interface across multiple devices, much like their smartphone operating system, while Google partners benefit by distributing their applications.
Although Android is seen as freeware, it generates an income from users using new tools to search, stream and buy apps from the PlayStore. Google has had a lot of success with it’s search engine, YouTube and PlayStore but has seemingly struggled to move into other areas where Android may be beneficial.
An area that they have already explored with Android is the automotive industry – and it’s not even deeply embedded yet. Apple out sold Google 5 to 1 with their smart watches according to 2017 figures. Samsung’s smart TV operating system sold 4 times as many TV’s than Android TV. In most categories, Android posted less market share than variants, which could be damaging to Android Things as “smart” devices might not be compatible with the Android OS (operating system).
Android Things has competitors such as Amazon’s Greengrass and Microsoft’s Windows IoT. Google has offered 3 years of free security patches and is considering automated security scans of applications for Android Things.
Whilst they may be falling behind in the IoT market this step may have advantages such as integration with Google cloud computing and a large Android developer community.