Official android open accessory development kit – it’s an Arduino

A new development kit for android was unveiled at the Google I/O 2011 developer conference that officially supports the Arduino.

It looks like Google took a cue from Circuits@Home, because the interesting part of this dev kit is the fact that the shield can be put into USB Host mode. That’s great for phones and tablets that can’t act as a USB host themselves. Google will also release the APIs for this Android/Arduino mashup for 3.1, but it will thankfully be backported to Gingerbread.

We covered the IOIO breakout board for Android last month, but the Google board will be based off of the Arduino Mega 2560, a far more capable device. Interestingly, it appears this board is available now for about $400 USD. We’re not so sure a hobbyist will be buying it at that price.

While this board doesn’t do anything you couldn’t do before with a bluetooth shield, it’s great to see a company supporting all the builders out there.

52 thoughts on “Official android open accessory development kit – it’s an Arduino

  1. This just goes to show that when even professional companies like Google don’t know how to do proper embedded programming, they turn to a joke called Arduino.

    With all the outsourced engineering required for your Nexus phones, you couldn’t spring for a nice pre-programmed PIC or ARM processor for the dev kit? And $400 for an Arduino board? Pfft.

  2. OMG! PONIES!!!!!!11!!1!1!!!11!!

    Looks like they are going with that whole Apple white/$$$ exclusive look and feel. Good for them
    :/
    Lotta cabbage to flash a LED?

  3. Personally if you have a wireless device like a phone, I don’t see why you want to add a wired external object to it. Most if not all Android phones have bluetooth which seems the logical way to talk to embedded systems until absolute throughput is the issue, which I can’t imagine being the case for a typical Ardunio based project…

  4. I downloaded the ADK, and took a peek at the schematics. It looks like the ADK board uses a FT232 chip and a ATMEGA1280. Does this mean the ADK board is actually based on the older Arduino MEGA and NOT the newer Mega 2560?? That would suck.

  5. The moment I saw that the official platform was Arduino-based, I knew we were in for some good old-fashioned HaD Arduino hate.

    For those not so inclined, http://www.microchip.com/get/522D is Microchip’s version, with a royalty-free licensed library (but not open source). We’ll probably see a LUFA-based version for AVR in, what, a week? Maybe two?

  6. Seems like a perfect opportunity for some budding entrepreneur. Design a low-cost alternative and convince Sparkfun to sell it. Win-win.

    I’ve been a MFi developer in the past and I have to say that I love this open aspect of Android. From my perspective as a professional hardware developer, $400 would be nothing for a tool (compared to the budget of a real product development). It makes sense to me that Google would target the pros understanding the open nature of the interface would allow the hobbyist to hack as well.

    Arduino is a reasonable choice because of the broad library support and exposure. I’ve dealt with plenty of other micro-controller development systems and Arduino is a win for testing out a concept or building some in-house tool. It lets you get the job done quickly.

  7. 1. @Brian. Bluetooth has a lot higher latency then a direct connection and costs more.
    2. I am willing to bet that Sparkfun and LadyAda will have boards for cheap very soon.

    Come one folks this is so cool. The cost of Android phones is dropping all the time. Wait till there is a cheap phone with HD video and gyros. Can you say drone controller over the cell network?

    Once cheaper boards are out or even better I can get enough info to roll my own I am thinking of a bike computer that I just plug my phone into.
    Think about in 4 years when high schools can collect Android phones that support this and turn kids loose with it.
    Stop being such haters this could be so cool and frankly Google is giving it away for free. My guess is that they are hoping that some small percentage of folks manage to make something really cool out of it.

  8. hell, at least in all of this they used an FTDI. a really simple request, but one that has been lost on the arduino creators in favor of standardizing with one vendor (at the expense of turning it into an ACM device under linux).

  9. The hate is not entirely directed at the use of arduino. For me, it’s the lack of innovation. Seems this has been done before and they should have just partnered with Sparkfun instead of making me scan my credit card for a $400 arduino + breakout.

  10. Where the hell did they get $400 from?
    Looking at the schematics there’s only about $30 of parts, max.
    Luckily, I expect clones to be available on the market in 3…2…1.

  11. I thought I read the sources for it were open. Board files etc.
    yep… frankly they /are/ giving it away for free.

    quote from the link in the post.

    The hardware design files and code are contained in the ADK package download.

  12. I think part of the price is just expectation. Somehow I doubt serious developers would take a $30 development board seriously. I mean thats ridiculous, but its the way some people think.

  13. “We covered the IOIO breakout board for Android last month, but the Google board will be based off of the Arduino Mega 2560, a far more capable device”

    False. The IOIO uses a 64-pin USB enabled PIC, a far more capable device than a mega2560. Also, with the mega2560, you will need a separate USB Host IC, which adds more cost.

  14. The ADK is far from Arduino as we all know it. To get this dev kit working, you need to program an interpreter on the mega in C++ and then write the app itself in Java. This is something a hobbyist would probably not be able to do.

    The IOIO is far easier to use and less expensive. There is already an interpreter on the PIC, so all you need to do is use the IOIO libraries and write your app in Java. One library, one IDE, one piece of hardware.

    The ADK needs an arduino, USB Host, 2 programming environments, and it costs $400.

  15. I highly doubt that its really going to cost $400. That might have been some kind of pre-order thing or something. there is no way that a development board aimed at hobbyist is going to cost more then the phones you’re developing for!

    If they are using the Arduino to promote it, the first places you will see it avaliable will be sparkfun/adafruit/mouser.

  16. @therian You’re going to be a terrible engineer (and you already show yourself to be a terrible person).

    Arduino is a perfect platform for this. Yes, this initial platform is expensive, but everything is open, allowing people (and true engineers) to design what works for them, while providing a substantial support base and community.

    You need to go back to grade school, where you clearly belong.

  17. @therian no opensource is not an excuse for 10x prices, the reason the arduino board cost $30 is because it is so easy to use and the relatively small number of people that use them. (small compared to the millions of other chips that are employed in mass production applications)

    An AVR ATmega chip is only about $3, the FTDI chip cost around $5-10, add in the cost of voltage regulators and various other components, then the cost of a board house and actual production/ burning the boot loader onto every chip/packaging/shipping/ and a small markup for places such as sparkfun or adafruit to carry them. Then add in the cost of developing new bootloaders/the IDE/new hardware and its amazing that it only cost $30.

    You are paying for the convenience, I’m a Senior EE student, today me and several others were talking about how Arduino’s have their place and their uses. I use one to play around with new ideas and sensors, etc. If I wanted to actually develop something out of it, I have the knowledge to embedded an atmega chip or develop code on other micros. I don’t like the idea of leaving an Uno board in a finished project. Its very easy to build an arduino chip into a project and continue to use the same code that you worked so hard to develop and it only cost about about $3.50

    Arduinos are perfect for prototyping, learning and exploring.

  18. As a senior EE student, I’d suggest you stick to industry standard platforms like ARM, PIC, and AVR. Now, I’m not telling you to ignore every other platform, but arduino is a hobbyist platform, one that’s not going to be used in any commercial product you may find yourself working on in the future. So, your time is probably better spent using AVR-GCC on an AVR, etc.. etc..

    C on an AVR is so simple anyways, it’s ridiculous. Do you really need arduino to give you a light blinker wrapper or servo control? Figure it out yourself, then keep it.

  19. @adam I wasnt talking about original arduino, it have the right price. Saying it 400$ but it open source sound to me – it 400$ because we save on programmers and let you fix the bugs on you own. Ant this is NOT opensource I support and like it to grow.

  20. How much would it cost to build the exact same board from the spec roughly? $400 dollars – Google wants to make millions from this arduino board?

  21. Got the library working on my Arduino UNO+ USB Hostshield, just needed to tweak the ports in the altered USB_Host Lib.

    And if You want an Arduino Mega then use it, it will work out of the box…
    I dont know why you complain about the adk hardware pricetag, if you dont want to buy it dont buy it…

  22. @therian ?what?
    sorry for the rant but you did say “wait, ardinotard I thought you like to overpay 10x, what you problem now?” i figured you were complaining about the cost of an arduino board.

    @Anonymous that’s why i don’t understand some of the hate for the arduino, a lot of what we do is prototyping. Although i admit it does bother me when somebody leaves a full arduino board in a “completed” project. But i think they are amazing little boards.
    .

  23. From what I understand it’s not Google that has produced and is selling the board at $400 but some Japanese company that is selling the board at that price.
    Since it’s open source wouldn’t it just be a matter of time until others start producing the board, and at a lower cost.

  24. Paul: that Japanese company is where Google’s website is sending everyone that wants to get a board right now, though.

  25. @Brad I did my senior project in AVR-GCC, and had a class in Assembly for the Freescale HC12’s. I’m pretty good in both and i want to get some experience with PICs and maybe the ARMs (probably during the summer), but for my own hobby fun i like the simplicity of the arduino.

    I love the HC12 and AVR for the debugging, watching the registers as you step through code, you really get inside the mind of the micros, but sometimes you just want to tell something to blink and have it blink for you. There is nothing wrong with an arduino when used correctly. It has its place in the world. Just like the AVR/PIC/ARM.

  26. I’d like to know which bandwidth and latency I could achieve with the new android library for usb accessory mode and an arduino with usb host shield?

    This could be a nice low latency audio input / output option for android devices!

  27. “To get this dev kit working, you need to program an interpreter on the mega in C++ and then write the app itself in Java”
    That’s not how I read things. I thought the arduino was running firmata-like code, and the java app runs on the android machine. (Java being one of the development environments for android, right?)
    Sorta like (exactly-like?) all the procesing/arduino combonations that end up using the arduino as a glorified switch/knob/actuator interface for a bigger CPU.

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