How does Blynk IoT platform compare to Particle? This is a question that businesses frequently ask when considering implementing IoT solutions in various industries, such as field service management, transportation, manufacturing, and agriculture. In this post, we will provide a summary of feedback from our community experts on the comparison between the two platforms. We will cover a high-level overview, developer tools, security, hardware and connectivity, enterprise scaling, automated actions, feature comparison, and pricing.
Particle offers their own IoT hardware, developer tools, and provides a data pipeline to their cloud service. In order to set up historical data storage, device monitoring, remote control via apps and data analytics, you will need to use external services (or build your own solutions) and connect them to Particle cloud via webhooks.
Blynk is hardware agnostic and offers a broader, low code IoT software platform that covers all essential IoT features out-of-the-box. Blynk-powered connected product typically comprises of any microcontroller unit running the Blynk library or using the Blynk HTTPs API, allowing for bi-directional communication with the Blynk cloud, as well as a mobile app and web dashboard. Both the native mobile apps for iOS and Android and the web dashboard are built with drag-and-drop widgets, eliminating the need to write code for the front-end. Blynk also includes other tools such as OTA, device provisioning, user management, alerts and notifications, automations, data analytics, etc. that are necessary to scale complete solutions quickly.
Particle provides a Web IDE for the development of firmware for most of the Particle devices. However, the Visual Studio Code plugin Workbench is the primary choice for a more professional development. A command line interface (CLI) is also available for working with Particle devices and the Particle Device Cloud. The Particle Console is a web interface for managing devices and viewing device events.
Blynk is hardware agnostic, therefore the developer may use any IDE appropriate for their hardware and programming language. Developers use Blynk.Console - a web interface to configure device templates, add devices, define datastreams, create and manage organizations, add users, design web dashboards for data visualizations, set up automations, and more. Much of the development may also be performed with the Blynk iOS or Android app. The mobile apps are used to visualize sensor data, and control devices using drag-n-drop GUI elements: widgets.
Blynk.Console and mobile apps can be used by end-customers to add devices, control them remotely, check on data, and receive important notifications.
Both platforms offer an easy way to perform over-the-air firmware updates. Particle’s OTA functionality is designed to support their hardware, while Blynk’s OTA is more flexible and can be used for a wider range of hardware models (ESP32, TI CC3200, and some Arduino models work out of the box).
Hardware and Connectivity
The Particle device to cloud connectivity is secure and data efficient. Device OS function calls like Particle.publish() allow data to be sent to the Particle Device Cloud using as little as 150 to 200 bytes of data. The Particle.publish() references a webhook running on the Particle Device Cloud, and it sends or receives data from an external cloud service using off-device TLS/SSL authentication.
Particle offers 20 variables which can be used to store and retrieve data from the cloud.
Blynk is hardware agnostic, allowing you to simply add the Blynk library to your device of choice to permit bi-directional communication with the Blynk cloud, mobile app, and web dashboard. Alternatively, you can access the Blynk cloud API directly from a device, without the use of the Blynk firmware libraries. Data transfer is accomplished with Blynk Datastreams. Think of them as bi-directional communication channels supporting different data types. Within the device, you push new datastream values or get the latest value for a datastream.
Blynk Datastreams are somewhat similar to Particle variables, however Blynk:
- allows up to 255 Datastreams per device template (and you can have many templates)
- provide time-stamped historical data for each datastream
The visual illustration below shows the scope of services offered by Particle and Blynk. Particle provides hardware and everything necessary to securely communicate with an external cloud service. It is up to the user to integrate the external cloud services such as data storage, data visualization, analytics, etc. required for their project.
Blynk supports a broad range of IoT hardware. Once a device has the Blynk library installed, it can easily send and receive data through the Blynk cloud to the web dashboard, mobile apps, or external cloud services. Alternatively, you can configure a webhook with an external device cloud service such as Particle and exchange data from that cloud with the Blynk cloud service.
Both Particle and Blynk systems are designed for management of devices at scale
In the Particle IoT platform, devices may be organized into products, with assigned team members and customers, each with unique permissions. Only one type of device may be assigned to a product. All management is done from the Console or the Cloud API. Devices may also be organized into groups for updating the firmware over the air for a fleet of devices.
Blynk uses Device Templates to enable easy IoT device management at scale. Device Templates contain a set of configurations that are then inherited by devices.
Blynk’s multi-tenancy functionality leverages the organization tree-like hierarchy to create a complex but intuitive system for managing user access to devices and other organizational resources. Each user is assigned a ‘role’ and to an organization. Roles have default permissions for access to data, other users, devices, OTA, templates, and organizations, but each can be fine tuned to the needs of each organization.
Sub-organizations up to a depth of four may be created to categorize your devices and users, assigning them roles, permissions, and locations.
The main difference between these two platforms is that Particle requires additional development effort for anything beyond the basic device management functionality.
The Particle Device Cloud uses mutual authentication using RSA public-private key pairs with Particle devices. The initial handshaking process creates an encrypted session using DTLS over UDP (datagram TLS) on cellular and Gen 3 devices. The Particle device to Particle Cloud connection uses the CoAP (constrained application protocol) over DTLS or AES. All device OS features like publish, subscribe, functions, variables, and OTA firmware updates occur over a single CoAP connection. All requests to the device through the Particle Device Cloud API server uses TLS security.
Blynk relies on industry standards for security such as TLS. By default, Blynk server tries to use the latest available protocol TLSv1.3 (or TLSv1.2 in case TLSv1.3 version is not supported). Lower versions of TLS protocols TLSv1 and TLSv1.1 are not supported as they are considered not secure. The server will automatically close connections with unsupported TLS versions. TLS certificates are renewed every 2 months.
Blynk Cloud has multiple layers of security:
- Every message sent through Blynk is encrypted and secure (unless you're using hardware that doesn't support TLS)
- Granular permissions allow you to manage who and how can see your devices and their data
- Every user is required to have a valid email address. Blynk offers a built-in verification process.
- Server system design doesn't allow any user other than allowed by you to view the devices within your organization hierarchy
- Each device has its own unique OAuth token and Product Id. Combination of both these fields grants access to the device only within your organization.
The following products and features are already offered as part of Blynk IoT platform, and would need to be developed from scratch with Particle platform.
iOS and Android apps and Web Dashboard
Client facing native mobile apps are ready to use from the shelf and can be customized to your needs and even branded with your branding and published on the stores under your own account with Business plan.
Blynk.Console offers extended tools for user and device management including multi-level organization structures and flexible permission controls. Blynk manages everything from initial user registration to device ownership transfer and distributor / partner use cases.
Data visualization and remote control
Both mobile and web Blynk interfaces have intuitive tools for data visualisation and device controls in the form of drag-and-drop widgets.
With Blynk you or your clients can receive in-app messages, push notifications, emails, text messages (SMS) to be notified of the important events.
Currently, Particle doesn’t have any automated action capabilities within the Particle IoT software platform. Particle integrations (webhooks) can be configured to work with an external service and then triggered by a Particle device via Particle.publish().
Blynk has automations built into its IoT application platform. These no-code automations may be configured from either the web console, or the mobile app to respond to changes in datastream value, and then execute one or more actions. The condition may be a change in a device (datastream) value, sunrise/sunset, a date/time schedule, or manually triggered from a mobile app or web dashboard. Blynk Business plan users can additionally use a code-based rule engine functionality capable of implementing complex conditional logic.
* The Blynk web dashboard is an IoT visualization platform for data visualization and device control through no-code drag-n-drop widgets. Dashboard may be organized into tabs, and you can restrict user access to particular tabs based on their roles.
** Blynk is one app to control all smart devices. You can even configure the app to display critical information about the devices in customized device tiles. This allows you to glance at the status of all your devices on one app page.
Particle’s billing element for both cellular and WiFi is Data Operations. Each data transfer event between a Particle device and the Particle Device Cloud consumes one Data Operation. The maximum data payload size for Gen 3 devices is 1024 bytes. Stored data, such as Tracker geolocation data, consume one Data Operation per location point saved. Over-the-air firmware updates, internal Device OS events, acknowledgements, session negotiation, keep-alives, webhook communication with outside cloud services, and Particle Device Cloud API calls from external sources do not consume Data Operations.
Particle offers a Free plan for development and prototyping that includes 100k Data Operations per month shared with up to 100 devices. The paid tiers after that sell Data Operations by a Block. Each Block covers 720k Data Operations per month shared by up to 100 devices. The first tier paid plan is called ‘Growth’ and one Block under this plan costs $99/mo for WiFi devices, and $299/mo for cellular.
Blynk also has a Free plan for development and prototyping that permits the connection of up to two devices, testing with three device templates, by up to 5 users. The cost for commercial use of Blynk begins with the ‘PRO’ plan at $49/mo for up to 40 devices and 40 users. Both plans include the no-code mobile app and web dashboard.
Below you can see a quick comparison of pricing plans with 100 devices. Note that this is not a comprehensive view and definitely not an “apples to apples” comparison. Particle’s plan covers only the basic Cloud functionality and cellular connectivity, requiring you to build most of the software yourself. Blynk’s plan already includes a wide range of out-of-the-box IoT functionality covering all of the essential use cases and even offers a mobile app. You do need to purchase a sim card separately if you use Blynk for cellular devices.
- Blynk platform is hardware agnostic - our software works with Particle, as well as hundreds of other MCUs. Particle provides their own hardware and allows you to connect to external Cloud via webhooks.
- Blynk offers a fully integrated, low-code software solution that offers all essential IoT features out of the box - including device provisioning, data visualization, alerts and notifications, OTA, multi-tenant user management system. Particle offers advanced developer tools and requires custom development of your software solution.
- Blynk offers a no-code mobile app and web dashboard builder. Particle provides an SDK and requires you to build your own mobile apps / web dashboards
- Blynk covers all of your cloud needs, including historical data storage. Particle allows you to set up an external cloud connection for data storage, device monitoring, and analytics.
- Both platforms offer white label solutions.
Blynk + Particle for a complete solution
If you are already using Particle devices, but you want to visualize your data, control your devices remotely with a mobile app and / or dashboard, use built-in Wifi provisioning and multi-tenant user management, then combining Blynk software with Particle hardware will create a complete IoT solution saving you at least a year of custom development.
Special thanks to Mark Kiehl for gathering data for this comparison.