The father of Android says he can solve the biggest problem with smart homes

Key Points
  • Andy Rubin, the father of Android, thinks he can solve the biggest problem with smart homes
  • He plans to support all smart home systems with his new Essential Home product
  • He'll need companies like Apple to support him too, though

The guy who invented Android thinks he now has the solution to the biggest problem with smart homes.

Playground Global CEO and the head of Essential, Andy Rubin, discussed his new "Essential Home" product during the Code Conference on Tuesday evening, and explained why it's going to be better than the Amazon Echo, Google Home and other smart home gadgets on the market.

Rubin's trick is to get all of these products to work together with his device, a hockey puck-looking orb with a 5.6-inch circular display that may one day sit inside your house.

"One of the problems in the home is a UI (user interface) problem, there's too many things to interact with in your home," Rubin said. "One of the things Android helped people do is make it real easy to write a mobile app. So the guy building your doorbell is writing a mobile app for it. The guy who built the deadbolt [has a mobile app.]"


Rubin's right. If you consider building a smart home today, there are solutions from Apple, Samsung, LG, Qualcomm and others. There are smart home assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Doorbells have apps, deadbolts have apps, window shades have apps. It's a mess.

"Everyone is creating an island by creating their own ecosystem," Rubin said. "The Essential Home has to talk to all these ecosystems whether it's SmartThings, Google Home, Thread or Weave. We had to build a new operating system so it could speak all those protocols and do it securely and privately."

Rubin said he's willing to support all available standards and, thanks to available developer tools, his engineers can tap into those systems. He even thinks that he'll be able to woo companies like Apple, which typically don't let third-parties tap into its historically locked-down software.

"There's a trick. All these companies who have ecosystem envy and want to develop an ecosystem," Rubin said.

"Consumers don't want just Samsung things in their house. They want diversity. Consumers need choice." With Rubin's system, consumers could theoretically buy smart gadgets from a variety of brands and everything will just work together.

Of course, there's always the chance Apple says no. Recode's Walt Mossberg asked what Rubin would do in that case.

"I'm gonna try. I have to lead the way. Consumers don't just want a single product in the living room. Everyone who is doing that strategy is going to fail. I'm creating a strategy that's going to suit consumers needs."