Debugging things on the Android Emulator (incluced in the SDK) can be a very slow and cumbersome process. Thanks to the Android-x86 Project it’s quite easy to run Android in VirtualBox. This is highly useful when you need to test mobile apps and websites from the Android Browser (as well as Chrome Mobile).
Download an Ethernet enabled ISO from Tablets x86
- Create new ViratualBox VM
Important Settings (see screenshots)
- OS: Linux, Version: Linux 2.6
- Enable VTx/AMD-V
- Use Bridged Network Adapter (if you want to allow direct Internet Access)
- Mount the ISO file downloaded previosly and start the VM
- Create the Root Filesystem (ext3) on the VBox .vdi created with the new VM, mark as bootable
- Write the Filesystem changes to disk (VDI) and format the disk
- Install GRUB Boatloader
- Copy files from ISO to VDI
- Unmount the ISO image and reboot
Note: You need to disable the mouse pointer integration (if you have installed VirtualBox Client Add-ons) in the menu of Virtualbox (‘Machine’ –> ‘Disable Mouse Integration’) when you start the VM (see screenshot). I have not found a way to disable this by default on Virtualbox on Ubuntu (If anybody has managed this I would love to know how !)
- Start the Android Setup Wizard to set locale and you should be up and running (network should already function to test external sites from Android browser) !
One of the features I missed since the good old Android 1.5 days was the ability to take screen-shots on the device. Prior to Android 4 (ICS) the only workable way to create screen-shots was to connect via USB cable and use the Android SDK to make remote screen-shots.
On Android 4.0 all you have to do is press Volume Down Key + Power Key down at the same time and hold. You should hear the camera click (if audio is on) and Android will show a notification that the screenshot was saved on your device and you can now upload or transfer to your favourite service.
One of my oldest pieces of hardware is a trusty Nokia SU-8W Bluetooth Keyboard. I have tried to revive it on an Android 1.6 & 2.0 device with not much luck. However I got it working successfully on a Gingerbread (2.3.4) Google Nexus S.
- Install the BlueKeyboard JP from the Android Market
- Go to Settings > Wireless & Networks > Bluetooth Settings
- Scan for devices and click to pair the Nokia SU-8W
- Enter a passcode (I used the highly inventive 0000 combinaton) on the phone and click ‘OK’
- Enter the same on the SU-8W (need to use green ‘fn’ keys for numbers) and hit enter
- The phone should show the Nokia SU-8W as paired but not connected
- Go to Settings > Language & keyboard > BlueKeyboard JP Settings
- Select the Nokia SU-8W as the keyboard and make any other changes you might need
- Click the ‘Back’ symbol and tick the option box to enable the ‘BlueKeyboard JP’ keyboard
- In any data entry field (i.e. GMail) hold the finger on the input box and click ‘Input method’ and select BlueKeyboard JP
- Wait for the keyboard to connect.
Due to the hype generated by the recent launch and my reservations on using the Apple Inc. iTunes I was doing some research into alternatives to the proprietary and completely locked iPad device (and the associated lock-down to Apple’s iTunes Store). Hopefully this list can be of use for other people as well.
I can see the form factor and the tablet style with a cut down (mainly web-browser based) Operating System as useful in a number of settings not least in educational institutions and libraries.
Here is the findings so far:
EDIT: I have re-published the list as a Google Spreadsheet to enable submission of new items. Please ENTER YOUR OWN if you found an item not on the list.
If you are purely looking for a tablet as an electronic reading device there is a good Wikipedia comparison chart to look at.
I will add further devices as I discover them. Please leave a comment if you find other tablets / devices that have similar features, but are more open and do not require iTunes lock-down.