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Google pads out internet of things ecosystem with Brillo

Google launches Brillo IoT operating system and Weave device communications protocol at Google I/O developer event in San Francisco

At its I/O developer conference in San Francisco, Google has made a play to own the core of the internet of things (IoT) with the launch of a bare-bones IoT operating system called Brillo that it intends to sit at the heart of the future connected home.

Brillo is an Android-derived platform that Google says will allow original equipment manufacturers to build IoT-enabled devices quickly and securely, and will allow app developers to extend their reach further into the physical world, while giving users confidence that their connected home device will interoperate both with smartphones and tablets, and each other.

Working alongside its recent acquisition, Nest – a supplier of smart heating and home safety systems – it has also introduced a communications protocol standard called Weave, which will allow IoT devices to connect and communicate with one another by exposing developer application programming interfaces across multiple IoT platforms, including Brillo.

Google vice-president Sundar Pichai told the audience that Google wanted to connect devices seamlessly and intuitively.

The need for standardised systems and collaboration around the IoT has become more apparent lately as the scale of the opportunity for both businesses and consumers becomes clear.

At a TechUK event on smart city IoT technology, delegates said that city governments needed to team up for optimum IoT outcomes, while suppliers had a responsibility to work together to ensure the billions of connected devices expected to go online in the next few years were interoperable, and not isolated islands.

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M is for Android

At the same time, Google announced its “most powerful Android release yet” in the shape of mobile operating system (OS) Android M, which boasts improved battery life and enhanced control of what apps are able to do with personal information.

It also expanded its increasingly popular Google Now service to include on-demand assistance in real-time and launched a new Photos app.

Google’s Cardboard virtual reality add-on also got a makeover with the addition of iOS support for developers and the launch of a feature called Google Expeditions, which will let users take virtual trips to, for example, the Moon.

Acknowledging that smartphones are extremely vulnerable to breaches, Google also dropped a host of new security features into the updated OS, including new password security options and fingerprint authentication.

Google said it acknowledged that internet users were coming online through mobile devices first and foremost, as opposed to on desktop PCs, and so it wanted to make that experience as good as possible. A streamlined version of its Search results page is to be rolled out to help users with poor internet connections, as well as offline map browsing.

“Our aim has always been to build products for everyone, applying unique technical insight to tackle big problems,” said Pichai.

“That’s just as relevant in today’s mobile-centric world. By providing a platform on top of which any developer can innovate, we can reach people around the world and put the power of the internet in their hands, no matter what device they use, where they live or who they are.”

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