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I recently found out about Android Things, Google's platform for developing an IoT device on top of the Android system.

An InfoQ article suggests that the updates Google provide to Android Things will automatically be pushed to devices:

Certified hardware will come with system images provided by Google, including future updates that are automatically delivered without developer’s intervention.

However, past experience with Android phones suggests that this is likely to lead to breakage unless the developer reviews the update and approves it before sending it out to consumers.

Is it true that Google will be pushing updates to IoT devices using Android Things without the device developers verifying that it works? Is this likely to cause breakage?

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The standard model for android updates is now a rolling beta program which individual devices can be enroled in. This would provide a developer with a simple means to perform testing in advance of a consumer roll-out, provided they have a suitable test farm or collection of beta test installations.

This is probably a better choice than being reliant on individual developers playing an active part in security updates. If all goes well, devices remain updated as long as the platform is supported. If there is a problem, and the developer is no longer active, the consumer is 'protected' from having a vunerable device on their network (even is this means they have to replace a now obsolete device).

It is worth noting that the android platform is more mature now than it used to be, so less breakage seems a realistic hope.

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  • This appears to overlook that Android is not portable enough that a new upstream update will typically work across phones, rather it has to be specifically built for each with the various device-unique proprietary add-ons rebuilt and tailored to changes forced by the system change. The lacking desire to do this for older hardware when they could be selling newer is the source of abandonment. If Android Things is going to avoid this with universal updates, it would only be by tightly constraining allowable hardware platforms, something phone makers have sought the opposite of. – Chris Stratton Sep 9 '17 at 23:32
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Is it true that Google will be pushing updates to IoT devices using Android Things without the device developers verifying that it works?

Yes, for Android Things devices Google plans to push upgrades continuously without any device developers verifying it.

Is this likely to cause breakage?

It supposedly is being achieved by ensuring that the device-developer apps and the BSP vendor libraries interact with Android Things OS software components via an API contract only. If and when, the BSP vendor libraries require an update these are upgraded pushed as part of the OS upgrade package.

It seems, Google is testing each upgrade in its labs for the first set of devices. This is more close to the Chrome OS model of upgrade and maintenance.

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