Saturday, 8 September 2012

CyanogenMod 9 nightlies still appearing

Although there's no more development on CyanogenMod 9 any more, the occasional nightly is still appearing for the HP TouchPad, presumably when the main CM9 code gets a security or bug fix that triggers a rebuild. I'm keeping an eye on CyanogenMod 10 for the TouchPad too of course, but it's actually my Nexus 7 that I decided to jump to CM10 first on.

The three most useful features to me that CM10 provided over the stock Nexus 7 ROM were using a launcher that rotates the home screen to landscape, the ability to overclock from the Settings (rather than having to install a third-party app to do that) and the simple addition of a battery remaining percentage to the left of the battery icon on the status bar (saving me having to install a third-party widget to get that crucial figure that really should be visible on all Android devices, IMHO).

Oh and don't forget to install the Amazon Appstore app on your TouchPad and other Android devices to get the Free App Of The Day. I hate the Amazon Appstore in so many ways (slow to load the page of apps, have to tie credit/debit card even for free purchases, confirmation e-mail sent even for free downloads, massively smaller store than Google Play), but the free app of the day makes it just about bearable to keep it on your device. I can't find a UK free app RSS feed or UK free app notifier yet which would make it easier to remember to go each day to get the free app.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

CyanogenMod 10 alpha available for TouchPad

I wasn't sure at all that the CyanogenMod team would port Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) to the HP TouchPad because it's hardware that hasn't been available for a year and even the Ice Cream Sandwich port (CyanogenMod 9 aka Android 4.0) never got the camera to work on the TouchPad due to closed source Qualcomm drivers.

However, it looks like we have an early alpha of CyanogenMod 10 (Android 4.1) available for the HP TouchPad, as this announcement makes clear. At this point, I'd recommend steering clear of that CM10 alpha, because there's a lot that isn't working.

Early reports suggest that sound, video hardware acceleration, the microphone and - inevitably - the camera all don't work in CM10, so if you play games, music or videos in CM9 on your TouchPad (and you must do at least one of those surely?!), then CM10 is effectively unusable at the moment. Also be warned that some CM10 TouchPad users have reported the battery going flat, even when left in standby overnight with a charger attached!

I'm already playing with Android 4.1 on my Nexus 7 tablet and just installed the Modaco JR6 ROM on that to improve the Jelly Bean experience, so I'm sticking with CM9 (Android 4.0) on the TouchPad for the moment. I've got to say I'm liking the Nexus 7 quite a bit and if they did a Nexus 10 in the future (with better resolution than the Nexus 7), I'd be tempted to replace my TouchPad with it.

Talking of CyanogenMod 9, the team just announced that it's officially gone stable and no more development will take place for that release. There will be security and bug fix releases for CM9, but all the work has switched to CM10 now. Sadly, the TouchPad hasn't officially come out of CM9 alpha 2 status after all these months (the camera might be blocking this), so I've been occasionally updating my TouchPad with CM9 nightlies.

Surprisingly, CM9 TouchPad nightlies are still being churned out - 11th August 2012 (two days after the CM9 stable announcement) is the latest one listed by GooManager. I just installed that today and it seems OK.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Open WebOS progresses, but leaves the TouchPad behind

It looks like the Open WebOS developers are convinced they can get it working on a phone or tablet using 100% open source. Good luck on that front, because not one phone or tablet released on the market to date has actually managed it yet and nothing in the near future looks likely to either.

Apparently, they are so convinced of this (OK, where are all the open source drivers for every piece of hardware, including the camera, wi-fi etc.?), that they are moving to a 3.3+ kernel and dropping support for any platform - including the HP TouchPad - that doesn't have 100% open source. Well, that's pretty well all platforms then and if they hold to this attitude, it'll never appear as an alternative OS for any phone or tablet on the market.

They do throw a bone though in the form of the "webOS Community edition", which presumably is a fork (it's not clear) maintained by, er, people not involved in the core webOS development? It's all pretty murky if you ask me and the flags just go up to say: "dead end". I think webOS is over as a viable mobile OS after this latest announcement. However, there's a tiny chance that at some point, we might see a System Update to the webOS side of my HP TouchPad, but I'm not holding my breath to say the least. Stick with CyanogenMod on your TouchPad - you know it makes sense.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Looks like my TouchPad isn't top of the heap any more

I would say that the HP TouchPad the was "Bang for Buck Tablet of the Year 2011" - no other tablet on sale for under £120 last year came close to it. Being able to dual boot, customise the kernel, overclock and run gazillions of apps made it a steal (far more so than any iPad to date).

However, nearly a year later, things have moved on - Apple finally released a tablet with a decent display (i.e. one significantly better than rivals for the first time) whilst keeping the price at silly money levels and we've seen a slew of Chinese tablets appear at under the £100 price point. However, there's been nothing for ages that isn't a compromise on performance (those Chinese tablets are often underpowered, particularly for the CPU and screen resolutions) or price (the iPad 3 is a nice tablet, but you pay an extreme premium for it).

I didn't want another 10" tablet, I didn't want a 4:3 screen ratio (bad for watching movies) and I wanted to spend less than £200, but still have a good resolution and good CPU/GPU combo, plus it had to be Android of course (the newer version the better - 4.0 at a minimum).

It wasn't until this week that the Nexus 7 tablet fufilled my requirements and I put an order in for one at £179 - using a £20 discount voucher code - at Tesco Direct  (5% Quidco, 179 Clubcard points and £15 Google Play credit). I think this tablet is the best bang for buck tablet this year - yes, it has no SD card or HDMI, but neither does my TouchPad, so I don't hold that against it.

It does mean my TouchPad will be gradually relegated in its duties from now on - it'll probably become an XBMC remote control/client as its main use, particularly during the Olympics.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Works starts on CyanogenMod 10

With the recent release of the Android 4.1.1 source code, the CyanogenMod team have already started work on porting it to a myriad of phones and tablets, with a good chance that the HP TouchPad will get the buttery smooth release too.

Unsurprisingly called CyanogenMod 10, an early build has actually rapidly turned up on the somewhat obscure LG Optimus 4X HD (is it just me or is that a naff phone model name? Is the resolution really 4 times that of HD? I doubt it!).

Friday, 22 June 2012

GooManager Beta makes nightlies a doddle

Disappointingly, the CyanogenMod team have failed to release a named snapshot of CyanogenMod 9 for the HP TouchPad since the Alpha 2 release some 4 months ago. Whilst this gives the impression that development of CM9 for the TouchPad has been abandoned, the reality is that there are actually builds with small incremental changes appearing on a regular basis.

After hanging on for Alpha 2 as long as I could, I caved in and decided to try out these "nightlies". However, I was keen to avoid the messy host PC/USB/novacom method that I'd been using for the named releases. Luckily, this is where the very handy GooManager Beta comes in - once you've got any CM9 release on your HP TouchPad, GooManager takes over and lets you easily upgrade to any recent nightly and also keep your Google Apps ("GApps") release up to date.

All you need to do is run GooManager, select "Browse compatible ROMs", then the first "nightly" category (/cm/tenderloin/nightly) and finally pick the first (most recent) nightly - e.g. Select "Begin download" and once the download starts, you can tap around the task bar clock area and bring up the notifications list, which includes a download progress bar.

When the download completes, go back to the first screen and select "Flash ROMs". Making sure that just the one download is ticked, then select "Order & flash selected". Tick on the first option - "Wipe cache/dalvik cache partition" - and if you haven't made a backup yet, tick on "Create backup" (you will be asked for a backup name - I used CM9A2 for the last named release). Don't tick "Wipe data" because I suspect it deletes all your apps! Finally, select Flash and confirm the flash process by selecting Yes.

The TouchPad will reboot and then boot into a temporary loader that installs the nightly you downloaded. Don't worry if it moans about a missing md5 file (GooManager doesn't seem to bother downloading it). The TouchPad will reboot after the install, but this time will go into the nightly release, which now includes a fancy "friendly vs. evil" CM9 boot animation. CM9 will "optimise" all your apps and then display the CM9 home screen as usual - all your apps and data should be intact. Have fun with your nightlies - you know it makes sense :-)

Friday, 25 May 2012

Open WebOS coming, but Enyo team defects

After HP open sourced WebOS back in December 2011, a new Open WebOS project was formed and has been trundling along nicely this year, heading towards the goal of releasing Open WebOS in September 2012. One would hope that Open WebOS would run on the HP TouchPad (it would be a kick in the face if it didn't!), though I doubt it'll lure me away from CyanogenMod 9, which is a seriously kick-ass tablet OS.

However, the bad news this week is that the team responsible for the HTML5 framework (Enyo) that is the core of WebOS have been lured over to Google! I suspect this might delay the Open WebOS project, possibly by several months. A shame really, because I was getting quite curious to see what enhancements Open WebOS would bring over the "stock" WebOS currently on my TouchPad.