Is Google putting out the IoT dumpster fire?

Google is aiming to provide a framework that allows Google, not hardware developers, to be in charge of sending out new updates, which ensures that whenever a new security patch for Android gets released, it will be sent to Android Things devices immediately


Microsoft’s having a go too.

I had a phone that Google gradually trashed by sending out larger and larger updates of its core apps (none of which could be moved to an SD card).

I’d expect the same for IoT devices.


I suspect that it will be less bad than some of the Android stuff you see in the wild; if only because it would be a challenge to be more bad; but I can’t say I’m terribly optimistic.

According to Arstechnica, the promised support window is 3 years from Google(OS and Android components only, vendor obviously does their thing at the application level) Given that Google is dependent on the goodwill and support of the SoC vendors (currently NXP, Qualcomm and Mediatek) they will have a limited ability to change that even if demand exists to do so; I’ve heard that running the NXP on mainline is somewhat easier than the other two; but Qualcomm and Mediatek are practically archetypes of American and Chinese failure to play nice with Linux, respectively. (Amusingly, “Note: Support for the NXP i.MX6UL platform has been deprecated.” The long term support strategy barely had a name and it already has a victim).

Even if all goes well; I have lightbulbs older than 3 years. That sort of support window isn’t utterly contemptible for little electronic toys; but it’s kind of sad even for real computers; and it’s a farce for things that are supposed to be embedded in an ongoing sort of way.

It will also be interesting to see exactly what “informative analytics” end up being continually reported back to Mountain View by all Android Things devices.


I hate this about electronic control of modern mechanical devices. Why should a company going out of business make it impossible to make toast?

We used to have a Gaggenau dishwasher that had a very complete set of cycles all operated by a sophisticated electromechanical switch. Every 2-3 years I had to disassemble the switch and replace some little pins that were in it, but then it would work like new. We eventually had to replace the machine (for stupid reasons), and I’m sure the all-electronic mechanism in the new one will cause it to die unrepairably well before it should.


I’m not holding my breath; but if vendors can’t handle “support” it would at least be nice if they could handle clean (and documented and not DRMed into uselessness; see why no breath is being held?) abstraction layers.

In the case of a dishwasher there are a relatively limited number of inputs and outputs you need to be able to handle to control it(probably some mains voltage switching ability or a reasonably beefy motor controller for the main agitator, the heating element, and possibly a pump; some slightly less punchy controls for soap dispensing, if that isn’t handled passively) plus a timing mechanism, and enough GPIO to implement an interface(unless the interface is part of the control module.

Were those functions broken out, you would almost always have options(a “universal” control board would have to be a trifle overqualified, so more expensive than a model-specific one; but not captive to the presence of absence of market support for a specific model); whether electromechanical (not terribly reliable but often quite fixable) or electronic (more likely to maintain serene solid-state reliability until the day it decides to maintain blank solid-state inscrutability); but a weedy little control board couldn’t take out an appliance because another board would do the job if needed.

The same logic governs the “yes you could embed a buggy little streaming box in a TV that will last 10 times as long as vendor firmware support; or you could that’s a terrible plan and just use a ‘video input’ to work this witchcraft so that vendor apathy can’t kill more than your cheesy little box”(naturally the market has stampeded toward exactly this, only with more intrusive advertising and surveillance ( yes Vizio, it is super fucking creepy to quietly exfiltrate ‘fingerprints’ of everything displayed on a TV, even when it is being used as a monitor or for local playback) so no breath being held.)

Not that it’s going to happen; but that sort of compartmentalization is the closest thing to “actually adequate support” that seems remotely likely. The closest thing to people building computer systems on the timescales that durable goods, controls embedded in buildings and infrastructure, etc. deserve is probably IBM’s mainframe arm; and neither their prices nor their UX seem terribly likely to carry the day in consumer electronics.

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The short answer is no.
If anything, they will fan the flames.


I homei something might - just might - have changed since then. The current concepts in 8.x are, reportedly, more suitable for continuing security updates. That’s what we care about. Not apps.

Let’s just hope they understand each other in different parts of that conglomerate Google and it’s mothership are today.

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