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Over the past few months we’ve looked at how to get the most out of your HP TouchPad, something that invariably means installing Android on the device. This is made possible thanks to the development work of the CyanogenMod team, to whom the many TouchPad owners running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich are all eternally grateful.
However, there are a couple of problems with the build as it stands. The build recommended in our previous guide was missing camera and microphone functionality. Meanwhile, a new version of Android, Jellybean, has since been released.
Can the HP TouchPad be updated to resolve these issues, resulting in a fully functional, up-to-date Android tablet?
Setting Up the Android Microphone
Since our initial article on installing Android on the HP TouchPad, the microphone issues have been resolved. This means that users can take advantage of the various voice command aspects of Ice Cream Sandwich, a great enhancement and one that almost completes the Android-on-TouchPad experience.
Why was there no microphone support in the earlier versions? It was simply a matter of missing drivers, something that has now been resolved. Adding microphone drivers to your HP TouchPad is extremely simple. Just follow our upgrade guide to install a recent build using the built-in tools, and the microphone will be activated. Note that if you’re concerned about updating your current ROM, a backup can be made using the ROM Manager upgrade tool.
Where’s My Webcam?
One issue that is yet to be resolved for the cmtenderloin Android Ice Cream Sandwich build for the HP TouchPad concerns the webcam.
This is due to the proprietary drivers in use by the device builder, Novacom. While several attempts have been made to reverse engineer the drivers and use substitute software, none of these have resulted in anything that can be described as favourable.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
In an effort to extend the life of the webOS platform, HP has committed to making it open source. The beta release of the open webOS was made public on August 31st, 2012, and the hope is that this can be used to grab the driver for the webcam and finally activate this final hardware hurdle for HP TouchPad users running Ice Cream Sandwich.
What About The Jelly Bean?
As you may well know, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean has been available since July 2012, but is there a version for the HP TouchPad yet?
Well, yes there is – but it’s not one that you would want to spend too much time with. At this stage, the build is limited and considered an early Alpha, missing a lot of key functionality such as the typical webcam and microphone and even battery management.
It is going to be some time before the HP TouchPad is presented with a workable Jelly Bean build, so in the meantime any users that have installed Ice Cream Sandwich will need to sit tight.
Running an operating system on a device that it was never meant for is a curious experience. In the case of the HP TouchPad, it adds amazing functionality to what was a good but criminally under supported piece of hardware.
Added microphone support brings an excellent new dimension to Ice Cream Sandwich on the HP TouchPad, and should the webcam ever be fixed, this will mean users will never need to boot into webOS again!
I’ve been playing with different versions of Windows Mobile, Android and Windows Phone for several years, taking advantage of the work of specialist hackers (in the traditional sense) and developers and maximising the potential of mobile phones and tablets that have been constrained by proprietary operating systems and user interfaces. I can honestly say that the Ice Cream Sandwich port is one of the most accomplished pieces of work to come from the XDA Developers website.
Incidentally, development work on this platform has been performed by the team involved for little or no money, although they do accept donations. If you feel that their efforts deserve recompense, consider you can do so via the XDA-developers.com forum.
Image Credit: Android 4.0