Android Things is a minimal version of Android, intended to power Internet of Things devices (like smart appliances). The first Developer Preview was released at the end of 2016, and new versions have come out steadily since then, most recently with Preview 8.
Today, Google is releasing the completed Android Things 1.0 build. This is the first long-term support release, intended for use on finished consumer products. For example, Android Things will power all upcoming Google Assistant Smart Displays, as well as various smart home speakers and other products.
This release also adds support for new SoMs (System-on-Modules) based on the the NXP i.MX8M, Qualcomm SDA212, Qualcomm SDA624, and MediaTek MT8516 hardware platforms. Both Qualcomm and MediaTek announced their hardware platforms earlier this year. Google says development hardware and reference designs for them will be available "in the coming months." In the meantime, the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B and NXP i.MX7D will continue to be supported as developer hardware.
Google also highlighted the security benefits of Android Things. Many IoT devices are never updated, leaving them vulnerable to attacks. For example, the 'Mirai' botnet was comprised of thousands of infected IoT devices (including air quality monitors and home cameras) and was used to take down major websites in 2016.
To keep devices secure, Google promises to provide at least three years of OTA updates for each LTS (Long-Term Support) release, but manufacturers can still continue to push app updates to their devices. That's not as large of a support window as I would have liked to see (how many people bought Hue bulbs in 2012 and still use them?), but it's better than nothing.
While the IoT operating system market is still new, it's already very competitive. Android Things will be fighting with Ubuntu Core, RIOT, Microsoft's Azure Sphere OS, and other custom-built solutions. While most users won't know (or care) what OS their fridge is running, they won't have to worry about it being used to launch DDoS attacks against banks.
- Android Developers Blog