As slick, smooth and functional as webOS is on the HP TouchPad, and wherever the future of the platform may lie, there remains a problem – the shortage of apps.
While things may have improved in recent months – the addition of homebrew apps in Preware has been a particular boost – the fact remains that there are a whole host of application types and games that could run on the HP TouchPad, if only the developers had a mind to do so.
The economic factors clearly lean against this desire, so the legion of HP TouchPad owners (and there are a lot of us!) have one alternative – install Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
Benefits Of Android
Development of Android on the HP TouchPad has been proceeding apace over the past few months, with various Alpha releases making way for regular builds that fix bugs and enable key functionality. We’re at the stage now where the HP TouchPad can run the latest Android operating system with little effort.
Naturally, this multiplies the number of apps and games that are available; currently the HP TouchPad has around 10,000 titles in the HP App Catalog, compared with 450,000 in Google Play (formerly the Android Market).
Using the method of installation described here, you will be able to install Android on your tablet alongside webOS, enabling you to switch back to the native OS whenever necessary.
Are There Any Drawbacks?
There are several minor drawbacks of installing Android on your HP TouchPad. First, you will notice that there is less storage space available after you have used Android for a short time, mainly due to the fact that you have two operating systems and some shared tasks – email, for instance – will take up space (you will be able to share media files, however).
Naturally, switching between the two operating systems will require you to restart the device, so if you’re in a rush to use one over the other, this might prove frustrating.
In addition, you will be unable to rely on the device’s built-in camera. This is disappointing, but you can always boot back into webOS if you need to use it.
Preparing the Installation
Before installing Android onto your HP TouchPad, you will first need to ensure that the device is fully charged. You should do this by connecting it to the mains power supply rather than your computer’s USB port, as charging will occur more quickly. Once done, do not connect the tablet to your PC until instructed.
After downloading to your preferred location, extract the contents of the ZIP archive and then open the folder, where you will find 7 files ready for you to use.
Before proceeding, ensure you have the latest version of Java installed on your computer. Head here and click the button to test which version is installed, and if necessary, follow any instructions to upgrade.
Preparing The Files On Your HP TouchPad
- With the open folder containing the extracted files displayed on your desktop, double click UniversalNovacomInstaller.jar, a Java-based tool which will enable your PC to talk to your HP TouchPad.
- This will detect your operating system and display a button – click Install Novacom to proceed.
- Click Download to get the latest drivers.
- Once complete, you will receive a notification to this effect. Close this and the Novacom dialogue box.
- The next step is to browse to C:\Program Files\Palm, Inc where you should see two folders and a single file. In your original open folder containing the extracted contents of the downloaded ZIP file, select the two files ACMEInstaller2 and ACMEUninstaller, which should both be copied to C:\Program Files\Palm, Inc. You can now connect your HP TouchPad to your computer via USB.
- On the TouchPad display, you should see a dialogue box – select USB Drive (from time to time this will not work correctly – follow the instructions on your TouchPad to close all cards/windows, and if this still does not work, restart the device.)
- Open My Computer, find the HP TouchPad, where it should be listed as a drive, and open to view its contents.
- Click New Folder and name the directory cminstall (all lower case characters). Open this and copy the following unzipped files into the folder:
- Once this has been done, close the HP TouchPad window and use the Eject command to detach it safely from your computer. These files do not need to be unzipped.
Installing Android On The HP TouchPad
You can now close any windows that you have open on your PC. At this stage, although your HP TouchPad has been ejected by Windows, it is still connected to your computer.
- Press Start and type CMD, then tap Enter to display a black command prompt window.
Here, first enter cd/ to switch to the root of C:\ and then cd Program Files\Palm, Inc to open that folder. Then input dir to list the contents of the directory.
On your TouchPad, meanwhile, hit the Launcher button, switch to Settings > Device Info > Reset Options and tap Restart. As the device shuts down, watch for the spinning circle emblem, and when this appears hold the volume up button on the side of the TouchPad until you hear the Windows connect/disconnect audio alert and the USB symbol is displayed on the tablet screen – you’re now in Recovery Mode.
You can then head back to your command prompt, and enter:
novacom boot mem:// < ACMEInstaller2
Over the next few minutes you will see lots of text appearing on your TouchPad screen, along with two Linux penguins. All you need to do now is wait; you might fix yourself a coffee so that you can prepare yourself for enjoying the next stage.
Configuring Android On The HP TouchPad
Your tablet will eventually inform you that it is going to reboot, and when it does so, will display a boot options screen. The moboot 8.3.5 screen will enable you to choose between the following, navigating the list using the volume buttons:
- Boot webOS
- Boot CyanogenMod
- Boot ClockworkMod
- Boot webOS Recovery
CyanogenMod is the option you want, so select this and press the Home button on your TouchPad, prompting Android Ice Cream Sandwich to load!
At this stage, all you need to do is wait for Android to load and then set up your account. A few moments later you’ll be ready to start browsing the web with Android 4.0, accessing the Market and enjoying yourself.
With the problems that you will encounter on the camera, meanwhile, your only option is to restart the device and use the moboot menu to boot into webOS if you really need to use that feature.
All in all, this is a fast, streamlined installation of Android on the HP TouchPad. If you have so far avoided installing Android on your HP tablet, this is the way to do it, with the minimum of fuss.
Have you installed Android Ice Cream Sandwich or any other ROM on your TouchPad? Do you have a preferred build that you use? Let us know!