Google’s Android Things OS won’t work on new Raspberry Pi board

Clive Fernandes
March 25, 2017

The Raspberry Pi Zero W was launched on 28th February earlier this year. It is similar to the Raspberry Pi Zero but has Wireless Fidelity (802.11n wireless LAN) and Bluetooth (4.0) functionality for just around Rs.650.

The board was designed to make devices embedded with software, electronics and sensors to exchange and collect data i.e. the Internet of Things or IoT. Though the Raspberry Pi Zero W was intended to be a board for IoT devices, Google OS will not function on this board.

Raspberry Pi Zero - AndroGuru

It has a processor of 1GHz which is also a single core BCM2835 processor. Pi Zero W’s processor is based on the ARMv6 which is not supported by Google’s Android Things which is why the OS will not work on the board. Only certain chipsets can be used with the OS.

However, Eben Upton (Founder of Raspberry Pi) remains hopeful that Google will support the use of ARMv6 in order to allow Android Things to work on Pi Zero W.

Eben Upton points out that the BCM2835 uses less power and consumes a small form factor as compared to the faster Broadcom chips on the comparatively newer and faster, but bulkier Raspberry Pi 3.

Dave Smith (Google IoT Developer) says that the Pi Zero W has a reasonable memory of 512MB RAM. However, the BCM2835 system on chip or SOC is not supported. Intel boards and Raspberry Pi 3 both support Android Things. All said and done, the OS has a smooth road head with the potential for growth with emerging IoT devices.

When will we have the final version of Android Things? At this point it is unknown.

It is interesting to note that a feature such as machine-learning is currently being built into the OS. Since the ARMv6’s architecture is over 15 years old, it’s support has also been discontinued from latest OS used in smartphones.

The ARM chips architecture is still being improved for efficient power usage and performance though its core architecture lies with its 64-bit ARMv8.

The Pi Zero W competes with other boards like the low-cost Orange Pi Zero which sells for a little over Rs.450 and other popular wireless though pricier boards like the Particle Photon and ESP32 boards.

Another key feature of the Pi Zero W is it supports Raspbian which is a Linux-based OS also from Raspberry Pi.


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