Android will power the Internet of things

Java has been pushed as the on-ramp to the Internet of things, but Android will make IoT into more than just a buzzword for most people

Perhaps you too are sick of the term "Internet of things," the concept isn't going away anytime soon. Mike Elgan at Computerworld suggested the term "things of the Internet" as a better expression of this annoyingly nebulous concept.

Now let's take that a step further and consider another tweak to the expression: things of Android. The Internet of things (IoT), as most of us will know it and experience it, will be a world of data connecting to, managed by, and created for Android.

Oracle's been hyping the idea that the IoT is by and for Java, echoed by Freescale as well. But Embedded Java devices are only part of the picture -- and the wrong end of the picture, as far as most people are concerned. What will be most valuable about the IoT to the majority of people is not that it runs Embedded Java, but that all the connected devices -- whether smart watches, thermostats, or cars -- are useful to them in some way.

Here's where Android comes into the picture, in multiple ways, by making the IoT not only a reality, but a useful one.

Reason No. 1: Android works as a universal front end. The sheer number of devices that run Android hardly needs tallying; it's a lot. Those devices provide a universal front end for anything that could call itself IoT. Nothing needs to be written from scratch; a full stack is already there, waiting to be used.

Reason No. 2: Apps will make IoT devices useful. And what better place to make use of apps than in Android itself? InfoWorld's Andy Oliver wrote about his favorite real-life IoT project, a home automation system named OpenRemote, which "is to home automation what Android is to cellphones." The comparison isn't an accident. A gadget by itself is just a gadget, but a gadget with an Android app to control it is truly useful.

Reason No. 3: Java's already part of the picture. No surprise here, but it bears repeating. If IoT is going to be built on Java, then having Android to drive it means Java will be used even more -- and in a place where it actually makes sense. Embedded Java might well find a foothold in some devices, but it might face competition from (oh, the irony!) embedded JavaScript, for which dedicated devices are already appearing.

It's difficult to dismiss Java wholesale, not just because of its existing base of deployment but also because of the reach and marketing muscle of Oracle. Right now, my money's more on the platform, Android, rather than the language, Java, as the prime mover for IoT uptake, at least as far as the majority of us are concerned.

This story, "Android will power the Internet of things," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.


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