In December 2016, the first Developer Preview of Android Things was released by Google. In March 2018, Google released the seventh Developer Preview. It sported new Bluetooth APIs, console enhancements etc. Now, on April 2018, the company has released the Developer Preview 8 of Android Things OS.
Android Things, originally named Brillo, is a version of Android developed for IoT (internet of things) devices. IoT devices include embedded devices and smart appliances.
Developers Previews for Android Things have a different kind of release schedule than the mobile version. Android’s mobile version receives around 4-5 Developer Previews before the stable version’s release. Whereas, Android Things OS has already released eight Developer Previews already.
According to Google, the release of Developer Preview 8 of Android Things is specifically for developers and early adopters concerning usage for compatibility and development testing on hardware supported platforms. Not to mention, it can even have stability issues of various kinds (on supported hardware). All application programming interfaces are not qualified in this preview.
Developer Preview 8 is supported on NXP i.MX7D, NXP i.MX6UL, and Raspberry Pi 3 development boards.
For the upcoming stable 1.0 release, the library representing the final version of the API surface is supported by the 0.8-dev-preview version of Android Things OS. According to the company, the API exposed in this version of the library won’t have any breaking changes.
The Developer 8 Preview requires Android Studio 3.1 Canary 11 or later for building applications. Google also states that all applications must be updated to use the 0.9-dev-preview version of Android Things support library.
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The previous versions won’t be compatible with Developer Preview 8.
What Does The API Additions Include?
The application programming interface includes BluetoothConfigManager, to the addition of support for setting Bluetooth I/O capabilities. It is also equipped with a refactored InputDriver for supporting a more flexible range of event input types. Not to mention, the framework for the location driver has also been expanded. The expansion has been done to incorporate all GNSS receivers. There has been a reordering of parameters in all call back registration methods. It has been done for a better Kotlin interop. The WifiP2pManager API has got support now for Wi-Fi peer-to-peer connectivity. It is currently limited to the NXP i.MX7D platform. The ScreenManager API has been removed. This has been done as it asks developers to use the default Android window APIs, for adjusting certain parameters.
A New App Library
The Developer Preview 8 has got a new application library so that developers can manage APKs more easily and don’t need to package them together in a separate zipped bundle.
More features have been added to the default Android Things launcher app. Some of them are peripheral tests and date/time settings.
Android Things is a lightweight version of Android. Moreover, it has received a lot of updates since it was first introduced. It will power the upcoming Google Assistant smart displays. For more information regarding the new Developer Preview, visit the webpage of Developer Preview 8.