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

Google's Android does not support the chip on the IoT board

The new Raspberry Pi Zero W was designed to be a board to make internet-of-things devices, but a key OS from Google won't work on the hardware.

Google's Android Things IoT OS will not work with the small developer board, which is partly a wireless board, partly a gadget development tool. The Zero W is priced at US$10.

The Zero W has a 1GHz single-core BCM2835 processor, which is based on the ARMv6 architecture.

Android Things does not support ARMv6, so the OS will not work on the board. The OS is specially tuned to work with specific chipsets.

The BCM2835 chip is the same in the original Raspberry Pi developer boards.

The lack of support of Android Things on Zero W isn't a major concern for Eben Upton, the founder of Raspberry Pi Foundation.

"We're hopeful that in time Google will resuscitate the ARMv6 support in Android to allow Things to run on Zero W," Upton said.

Upton likes the low power consumption and small form factor that comes with using BCM2835, especially when compared to the faster Broadcom chips on the newer and faster, but larger, Raspberry Pi 3.

The hardware specs, like the 512MB of memory of the Raspberry Pi Zero W, are reasonable for Android Things, but the BCM2835 SoC isn't supported, said Dave Smith, an IoT developer advocate at Google.

"This part is a bit of a problem for Android, as the platform doesn't really support that [ARMv6] architecture anymore," Smith said in a post on the Android Things page on the Google IoT Developers Community page on Google+. 

Android Things is supported by Raspberry Pi 3 and boards from Intel. The OS is still in preview and has a lot of growth potential with the emergence of IoT devices. No date has been provided for a final version of Android Things, but features like machine-learning are being built into the OS.

The OS will eventually support more boards as usage of Android Things expands. Support for ARMv6 has also been pulled from latest Android OS used in mobile devices, considering the architecture is now more than 15 years old.

ARM's core architecture is the 64-bit ARMv8, and the chip architecture is still being improved with performance and power-efficiency features.

The Pi Zero W competes with other low-cost IoT boards like the $6.99 Orange Pi Zero. The Zero W also competes with popular wireless boards like Particle Photon and ESP32 boards from Espressif Systems.   

The Zero W could be picked up by many users as an extension of the main Raspberry Pi 3 board, which has sold in the millions. The Zero W supports Raspbian, a Linux-based OS from Raspberry Pi.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?