Android Things Developer Preview 6.1 Adds LoWPAN Support
We’re used to getting a new update to the developer preview of Android Things about every three to four months, but sometimes there are reasons to push one out a bit more quickly. It was only a few weeks ago when Google announced version 6.0 of the Android Things Developer Preview, but they felt there were a couple of issues that needed to be fixed quickly. Among those fixes, the company has also added support for LoWPAN to the Android Things platform.
We have yet to get a full, stable build of Android Things out to developers, but that’s just because of how volatile the IoT market is right now. The first developer preview of Android Things was released in December of last year, and since then we’ve seen the platform receive a lot of attention. Thanks to a recent commit in the Chromium Gerrit, we even learned that Google is currently preparing to better integrate Android Things with Chromecast starting in Android P (9.0).
The big headline feature in version 6.1 of the Android Things Developer Preview is the added support of LoWPAN. For those unaware, the Low-Power Wireless Personal Area Networks (LoWPAN) APIs that have been added to Android Things enables developers to manage and configure IP-based, low-power, lossy networks (such as Thread networks). Once enabled, applications can scan for nearby supported low-power wireless mesh networks, join such a network, and even form a new low-power wireless mesh network.
As mentioned though, this update also fixes a couple of issues that had been reported by the community. In specific, this update fixes an issue that made it unable to flash preview releases due to a locked bootloader on NXP devices. Another fix added in the update resolved a bug that made developers unable to use ScreenManager for backlight and rotation controls on RPi3 and i.MX7D devices. As this is still a developer preview, Google is aware of a number of issues and has outlined them (reproduced below).
Android Things 6.1 Developer Preview Known Issues
- System power management is currently disabled. Devices will not suspend and wake locks are not necessary.
- Google Play Services requires 2-3 minutes on first boot to pre-optimize dex. App installs are blocked until this process is complete.
- Input events from user drivers will not wake the display from sleep.
- Android Things may attempt to automatically restart apps using significant memory resources (such as camera or media playback), even during development. In these cases, the app must be uninstalled to return to the IoT Launcher.
- Apps cannot access APIs requiring Device Owner permissions.
- Screen brightness changes animate slowly.
- Peripherals do not clear or reset after calling
close(). Outputs will retain their state and serial ports may continue to transmit previously buffered data.
- GPIO pins cannot be used as an output if they were previously enabled as an input with an edge trigger enabled since the last reboot.
- User sensors cannot currently be unregistered manually. They are unregistered automatically when the app process terminates.
- User sensors only support continuous and on-change sensors. One-shot and special reporting modes may not function as expected.
- Windows 7 machines cannot detect Pico/Argon SoM devices over ADB.
- Apps can take up to several minutes to install and launch the first time.
- Graphics: Overscan is disabled, causing UI not to extend to the edge of some displays.
- Graphics: Screen resolution cannot exceed 1280×720.
- Launcher: Factory data reset does not fully remove installed apps.
- Audio: Audio quality issues may present when both WiFi and Bluetooth are enabled.
- Network: Wi-Fi cannot connect to the internet if Ethernet is also connected to a network without internet access.
- Camera: A new
CameraCaptureSessioncannot be created with more than one target output surface.
- Camera: The first request in any
CameraCaptureSessionalways queues two images. This can cause each subsequent
CaptureRequestin the same session to return a buffered frame from a previous capture.
- I/O: GPIO pins BCM4, BCM5, and BCM6 are internally pulled up to 3.3V when used as inputs.