Thread Play Services APIs

Many new Matter devices will use Thread—an IP-based wireless mesh networking technology, designed for smart home devices.

Thread has the following key benefits:

  • IPv6 based: Thread devices can join the same network as your other devices, and talk directly to each other and the cloud.
  • Low-powered mesh: Built for IoT, Thread supports battery operated devices, with a mesh that delivers range and reliability.
  • Speed: Low overhead, local connectivity, and mesh makes Thread devices extremely responsive.

Thread is developed in the Thread Group, which Google founded with other member companies in 2014.

Thread devices join users' existing home networks through a Thread Border Router. Just like a Wi-Fi router can bridge Wi-Fi and Ethernet devices into a single network, a Thread Border Router allows Thread devices to become part of users' networks.

Google devices like the Nest WiFi, Google Nest Hub Max and Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) have Thread radios built-into them and act as Thread Border Routers.

An Interoperable Mesh

Thread devices and Thread Border Routers are built by a variety of device makers. We want to enable users to have an open, interoperable and strong Thread mesh in the home, regardless of the manufacturer.

As part of our Mobile SDK, we've included Thread APIs in Google Play services that Android developers can use to join their devices to users' Thread networks. To join a Thread network, a joining Thread device needs credentials. Using the Thread APIs, an Android app can obtain the credentials from Play services and share them with the joining device.

Our Matter APIs in Play services use these APIs as part of the setup process. Matter commissioners share the credentials with joining devices when provisioning them to the Thread network.

The Thread APIs can be directly accessed by Android developers who want to customize their Thread setup, or have other non-Matter use cases that utilize Thread.

One non-Matter use case to highlight is the setup process for Thread Border Routers.

Thread and Matter

Setup Process for Border Routers

When a new Border Router is set up in a home it either creates a new Thread network or joins an existing Thread network.

If the Border Router is creating a Thread network, then the Border Router needs to share the credentials for that network with Play services so that the credentials may be used by our Matter APIs and by other Android apps to join Thread devices to it.

If the Border Router is joining an existing Thread network, the Border Router needs to obtain credentials from Play services to be able to join.

The Thread APIs are available to Border Router developers to help accomplish this. Border Router developers can implement their setup process in an Android app. The app would mediate between Play services and the Border Router, and would use the Thread APIs directly.

Google Border Routers, such as the Nest Hub (2nd gen), are set up in the home using Google Home app (GHA).

Get started

To start using the Thread Network SDK in your Android apps, refer to our Thread Network SDK usage guide.

Use the Thread Network SDK