Google plans to shut down Android Things, a stripped-down version of Android designed for smart home devices. The OS never really got off the ground, so this isn’t all that much of a loss, but it is yet another entry in Google’s expansive graveyard of shut-down projects.
The smart home project got its start in 2015 under the name Brillo, which was meant to provide the “underlying operating system for the internet of things.” In 2016, Google revamped Brillo and relaunched the initiative as Android Things, which was likewise meant to run on products like connected speakers, security cameras, and routers. By relying on Android, the OS was supposed to be familiar to developers and easy to get started with.
Then nothing happened. In 2018, some initial smart speakers and smart displays came out using the underlying OS. It seems no other companies were interested, because in February 2019, Google announced it was “refocusing” Android Things to cater specifically to smart speakers and smart displays.
Nearly two years later, and Android Things is now on track to be shut down. The Android Things Console, which lets developers push updates to their devices, will stop accepting new non-commercial projects starting January 5th, 2021. A year later, on January 5th, 2022, “the console will be turned down completely and all project data will be permanently deleted.” That essentially means developers have a year to wind down any Android Things projects they already have set up.
It’s an inglorious ending for a project that, over five years, barely made a dent in the landscape, particularly as smart home devices began to boom in popularity.
In case you’re interested, here’s the story of Android Things, told across all four headlines it made on The Verge: