Webinar Q&A:Android Customization–Creating New Possibilities
Webinar: Android Customization – Creating New PossibilitiesSeptember 28‚ 2012Question and Answers SessionQ. What are the various hardware options by which any external hardware can beconnected with standard Android Phone/Tablet?A. Audio jack and USB port are the two standard options available for hardwareconnectivity. Other optional components include HDMI port, SDCard slot, and so on.Q. What licensing intricacies are involved when customising Android for embeddedsolutions?A. There are two parts to Android: an Android-compatible Linux kernel and an AOSPRelease.Even though it is modified to run the AOSP, the Linux kernel continues to be underthe GNU GPLv2 license. It is not allowed to distribute any modifications made to thekernel under any license other than the GPL.However, Applications that run on top of the kernel are not considered "derivedworks." Therefore, feel free to create applications that run on top of the Linux kerneland distribute them under the license of your choice.Q. Can I modify a standard android phone and convert it into a data collectionutility in which I would require the support of just GSM and Camera?A. Sure. Putting Android on an embedded device is a complex task! It involves anintricate understanding of its internals and a clever mix of modifications to theAndroid Open Source Project (AOSP) and its Linux kernel.In simple words, this particular problem would involve creating the specific AndroidOS version build ported on your desired Android phone with OEM specific kernel anddevice drivers embedded to support GSM and Camera.The next step would be adding the data collection utility app in the build. Finally, theunused apps and features that are part of the standard AOSP build should beremoved to achieve the customised solution.
Q. Is there any brand specific limitation or any android phone can be re-flashedwith custom image of Android?A. As discussed in the webinar, you will need OEM specific kernel and hardwarecomponents specific device drivers to get your custom AOSP build working on aspecific OEM phone.There is option of using Android developer phones for which complete builds areavailable online on AOSP git repository. Finally, In order to get your custom ROMflashed on the target device, the device needs to be rooted.Q. What makes Android a preferred platform for me as an embedded systemvendor?A. We did cover this in our webinar..Android platform has a few characteristics that make it an especially interesting basisfor embedded use. The broad app ecosystem (with 200,000+ apps on AndroidMarket) allows for a large pool of apps available to choose from; should you want topre-package applications with your embedded device.Android’s consistent and forward compatible App APIs make sure that custom appsyou develop for inclusion on your embedded system should continue working in thefuture Android versions.Because Android is open source, a lot of its components can be replaced outright.For instance, if you dont like the default app Launcher (home screen) you can writeyour own.Another benefit from Androids openness and its architecture is that adding supportfor additional features and hardware is relatively straightforward. You just need toemulate what the platform is doing for other hardware or features of the same type.For instance, you can add support for custom hardware to the HAL by adding ahandful of files.And lastly, whether it is tuning the pre-built app behavior or changing their look andfeel, you are again free to modify the AOSP as needed.
Q. What type of an eco-system does Android enabled Embedded system enjoy?A. Android is poised to make its mark on the embedded-system marketplace. Webelieve that it is well on its way to becoming the defacto standard UI for a vastmajority of user-centric embedded devices.An entire ecosystem is therefore rapidly building around Android. Silicon and system-on- chip (SoC) manufacturers such as ARM, TI, Qualcomm, Freescale, NVidia and TIhave added Android support for their products, and handset and tabletmanufacturers such as Motorola, Samsung, HTC, Sony-Ericsson, LG, Archos, DELL,ASUS, etc. ship an ever-increasing number of Android-equipped devices. Thisecosystem also includes an increasing number of diverse players, such as Amazon,Verizon, Sprint and Barnes&Nobles, creating their own application markets.Q. Do I need to take OEM permission in order to customise Android for a particulardevice in bulk?A. We do not require OEM permission for the same, but need the kernel and devicedrivers for that device. Also burning custom image requires device rooting, sowarranty may be void in some OEM’s case. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information