Intel Unveils Android Development Platform For Tablets At IDF

There's an age-old warning about putting all of one's eggs in a single basket. It's a lesson Intel is determined not to learn the hard way, hence why you'll find Intel inside Windows machines, Apple systems, and Android devices. In terms of mobile, Android is the most successful at this point (as it relates to market share), and to make it easier to bring Android devices based on Intel architecture to market, the Santa Clara chip maker unveiled its Reference Design Program for Android at IDF today.

Intel's aware that making a living building hardware is a difficult task, especially in a fast-evolving market where Android resides. Those who are to be successful are able to capitalize on market opportunities in a fast manner, though that's easier said than done.

Intel Android Development Program

"This need for speed means you have to drive the engineering process for everyone in the ecosystem -ODMs have to build specific OS images for each BOM configuration, software developers have to tweak their codebase depending upon the silicon/BOM and OEMs have to submit every single SKU through an approval process to ship with Google Mobile Services. It’s not a simple process. Until someone makes it easier," Doug Fisher, corporate vice president and general manager of the Software and Services Group for Intel, said in a blog post. "What if Intel provided a solution that eased the process?"

What Intel's doing is providing a single binary image for Android. Within that binary, the ODMs and OEMs can select from a pre-qualified set of components or even a complete BOM specification, and build a system. Not only is this a quicker way for ODMs and OEMs to build and ship products, but it reduces their engineering costs too, Fisher says.

Android Developer Zone

Intel promises to deliver updates within two weeks of new Google releases. So for example, when Android Lemon Meringue Pie comes out, developers and manufacturers don't have to sit around guessing when they'll be able to build around the new OS -- within a couple weeks they'll have the tools they need to build upon the most recent version of Android. This should also help increase the number of devices that use the latest OS -- as of September 4, only a little more than 20 percent of devices accessing Google Play are running Android 4.x KitKat, even though that OS has been available for almost a year.

"It’s exciting to see Intel bring their years of expertise in reference designs to Android in order provide high-quality Android tablets and speed up time-to-market for manufacturers," said Hiroshi Lockheimer, VP of Engineering for Android, Google. "The result of this program will be devices powered by Intel’s technologies, together with an operating system that is up-to-date and includes popular apps from Google such as Chrome, Maps and YouTube, offering a great overall user experience."