The CommonsBlog


Removing the Android Things Chapter, Again

In November, Google published a Terms of Service for the Android Things Console, one that made it impractical to write about the Console. In response, I removed the Android Things chapter from The Busy Coder’s Guide to Android Development. I later added the chapter back, after they fixed the terms.

Well, they screwed up the Android Things legal terms again, this time in two places, and so I’ll be re-removing the chapter.

First, I once again cannot write about the Android Things Console, as the Terms of Service has:

3.3. Confidential Information. Our communications to you about the Services, including those communications made through the Android Things Console, may contain Google confidential information. Google confidential information includes any materials, communications, and information that are marked confidential or that would normally be considered confidential under the circumstances. If you receive any such information, then you will not disclose it to any third party without Google’s prior written consent.

I am not interested in trying to play guessing games as to what a Google attorney — or a judge, or a jury — will consider to “normally be considered confidential under the circumstances”. IMHO, nothing in a development tool should be “considered confidential under the circumstances”. Google apparently disagrees.

Second, the Android Things SDK License Agreement has a very odd clause in section 3.4:

Except to the extent required by applicable third party licenses, you may not… combine any part of the Android Things SDK with other software

Well, the Android Things SDK has a library. It gives you classes like AndroidThings. To use this library, you need to add a compileOnly dependency against some version of com.google.android.things:androidthings. Once again, I don’t feel like guessing as to whether a compileOnly dependency results in a case where I would “combine any part of the Android Things SDK with other software”.

Couple those issues with the fact that Android Things is a proprietary platform – one with undocumented distribution terms – and I’m just going to back away slowly from the whole area.


Need a speaker at your Android development meetup? Mark Murphy is available, in person in the Boston/Pittsburgh/DC triangle, or by remote anywhere in the world! Contact Mark for details!