Hidden among Google's flood of news today is a gem that may make Android shine that much brighter: The Android Open Accessory development kit. It'll help standardize Android-compatible peripherals, whether it's a car or a speaker stand.
One thing that Google-powered smartphones tend to lack, even as they sweep the smartphone market in sheer numbers, is peripherals. Apple's rigid control over its connectivity standards, and the standardized shape and size of each of its iDevices, means there are a plethora of peripherals available to significantly boost user experiences in specific ways—and that's something the hardware-fragmented Android system just can't compete with. Until now, when it seems that Google is attempting to make its own version of the "made for iPhone" standard, with the Android Open Accessory Standard. It's a suite of API hooks that should enable any accessory to run on any Android device running at least 2.3.4 and up.
To make matters even more interesting, Google's got a special development kit for hardware makers that runs on an Arduino chip and simulates all the necessary standardized Android interactions—perfect for making sure your USB-docked nightstand/refrigerator interface/car dashboard entertainment system is compatible with a host of Android phones and tablets. For now it's USB only, but there's a Bluetooth upgrade coming, which'll be handy for remote-control and audio applications.
This is certain to expand the use cases for Android owners, because more equipment will likely go on sale that's compatible with different flavors of Android devices—peripheral makers will see the size of the potential market and go nuts (in a good way). That's a boon to users, but it's also good for Google: Not only will it see its code being used in more and broader situations, but it's likely (if its past habits are anything to go by) to garner lots of deep and potentially monetizable data streams from all these new uses.
The kit itself, which seems to be made by RT Corporation in Japan, may also appeal to hobbyists trying to link up smartphones to real-world devices, which could be as simple as sensors or as complex as real robotic androids.
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