TouchDroid: Android On The TouchPad – Setting Realistic Expectations

Over the last couple of weeks, since HP announced its will no longer manufacture devices using WebOS and the ensuing fire-sale of HP TouchPads, there has been much talk about porting Android over to the TouchPad to breathe some new life into an otherwise pretty nice piece of hardware. There are already a couple of projects underway and some sizable bounties available for the first developer (or team of devs) that port Android over to the TouchPad.

The goal is to first port Gingerbread, i.e. Android 2.3, to the TouchPad and to then start working on Honeycomb (v3.0), which is the first version of Android specifically designed for larger-screened tablets. If we were betting men, we’d bet the farm that Android will indeed find its way onto the HP TouchPad at some point. In fact, if this YouTube video is to be believed, Froyo may have already inadvertently shipped on at least one TouchPad thanks to Qualcomm’s Innovation Center (QuIC).

A ROM dump from one of these Android-riddled TouchPads should lay some serious groundwork. But, we caution everyone itching to run Android on their newly acquired, cheap TouchPads to be patient. While we have little doubt Android will be ported over, it will likely take many months, or longer, to get a fully working, stable release. Let us explain.

If you’ve spent any time on the XDA-Developers or similar forum, you’ve probably seen Android ports pop up for a number of devices that didn’t originally run the OS, like HTC’s HD2 or Rhodium (TP2) smartphones, for example. While these ported Android releases may be “daily drivers” as of today—especially for the HD2—they were very limited for quite some time. Features like Wi-Fi and camera may not work right out of the gate, and if they do, they may not be fully featured. Then there are performing and tuning issues to contend with, marketplace concerns, application compatibility, and the list goes on. We’ve personally been experimenting with a number of the Froyo and Gingerbread releases for an HTC Rhodium for about a year now and they’re still not completely stable in our opinion.

Android Is Coming To The TouchPad -- Just Be Patient

We don’t mean to be downers, but a lot of the news being posted lately makes it sound as if some talented developers are going to flip a switch and everyone’s TouchPads are going to magically have perfect Android ports. The reality is, this isn’t going to happen. Many of the developers in the Android community are very talented, and we have little doubt they will succeed in time, but creating a perfectly working port is no small feat, especially since the devs aren’t going to get much support from HP and may of the devs do the work in their spare time, with no monerary reward other than a few small donations.