XDAndroid Shuts Down

That’s right, the XDAndroid system is no more… after you select Power Off from the power menu. With phhusson’s help, we found a magic switch that powers off the device. This is currently not well tested, but has worked for me on a RAPH110 (AT&T Fuze). We’ve had varying reports of success. In one incident, I had the device turn on automatically a couple hours after shutdown, so we still have to look at the shutdown procedure.

(To my followers freaking out about The XDAndroid Project “shutting down”, I sincerely apologize for the title of this post, but it’s too good to pass up.)

In other news, one of the fine folks over at the PPCGeeks forum discovered something interesting regarding battery life on our devices. Apparently some of the Touch Pro2 chargers have a little LED in the transformer block  which indicates a connection to the device. Interestingly, when the poster left the charger plugged into his device and removed it from the power outlet, the LED stayed lit. This suggested that there was power being drawn by the USB port, even when nothing was connected to it.

After a lot of mucking around with debug interfaces (which led to the power down thing from above being discovered), we finally tracked it down to the HTC Headset support (internally named HTC 2 Wire or H2W). After disabling the driver, the port was no longer active. In my internal testing, I found there was likely a small gain in battery life with the port disabled. Unfortunately, it seems like this difference isn’t very big as I was still able to burn through about 40% of the battery (in WinMo measurement) after under 7 hours.

We’re still tinkering with some battery related things, and trying to get a better understanding of what certain parts of the system do. Hopefully we’ll stumble across something useful like we did with the shutdown switch.

Thanks for reading!

Froyo Progress Update

Another week, another Froyo update. Before I begin: if you’ve been building systems, we now have updated build documentation on the XDAndroid wiki for the froyo branch. Check it out!

Work on Froyo has continued to progress rapidly. The bugs are starting to dwindle and I’m beginning to work on features more and more.

GSM users will be happy to hear that I’ve finally integrated the Access Point Names (APNs) list correctly, and it will be installed with babijoee’s next system release. CDMA users shouldn’t feel left out either, since with the help of hamagc on IRC, I was also able to add the CDMA generic APN again. The vast majority of providers should have settings that work out of the box from now on.

Many users reported shortcomings in the on-screen keyboard. Touch sensitivity is still a bit off (and I don’t see that changing — these screens are pretty small), but I was able to pull some autocomplete dictionaries out of cyanogenmod’s source tree. The dictionaries make the keyboard much more useful, of course. This will also be in babijoee’s next build.

Finally, by popular demand I have re-enabled the touch-friendly incoming call screen. This screen is similar to the unlock screen when you turn the device back on: it offers two pull switches to answer or reject an incoming call. The touch-friendly screen displayed during an accepted (or dialed) call, however, is still disabled. The layout is buggy on VGA phones.

I’ve begun investigating the possibility of issuing over-the-air updates for XDAndroid systems. Building OTA update packages is easy, thanks to the Android build system. The difficult parts are integrating an update mechanism into our rootfs, and developing infrastructure for Android’s checkin service to contact and check for or receive updates. This would be a pretty neat feature down the road.

Thanks for reading!

Froyo Progress Update

It’s been a while since the last XDAndroid update. We’ve since released several testing builds of Froyo, all of which have been progressively more useful and stable.

Since babijoee’s beta-2 release, the primary focus of development has been on bugfixes. Many users have been running the builds and offering great feedback on what needs work. With their help, I’ve been able to make some major fixes in the system.

First off, lots of people reported that their phones weren’t getting data connections out of the box. Users had to enter their provider’s mobile access point (APN) information by hand. This is an unacceptable issue and something that I missed due to testing without a SIM card in my device. The XDAndroid-specific bits in the source tree actually had a very large list of APNs in it, but it wasn’t getting copied over during system installation. This was a bug in our build system support introduced in Froyo, which has been fixed.

Second, the Google Apps support was suboptimal. The Google Apps packages we relied on include libraries that were built for newer devices which use different CPUs. Since our devices were not entirely compatible with libraries built for those CPUs, the applications were crashing on startup. There has since been a Google Apps package developed specifically for Froyo and devices with older CPUs. This package has been integrated into our build system. Specifically, this has fixed the Voice Search application and voice input with the Android keyboard.

Finally, I continue to make tweaks to increase performance and responsiveness of the user interface. With cues from cyanogenmod, I’ve made a couple of animations speed-ups and gave a hint to the system to use less sophisticated eyecandy features where possible. This helps improve the user experience quite a bit. There are still other places which can benefit from further optimization, so keep an eye out for more small performance gains in the future.

These changes have been added to the source tree, but are not present yet in current releases (as of 14 July, this post’s date). Development’s pace has been increasing and we still have some bugs to squish, so keep an eye out for more test builds. For users who wish to attempt to build their own system images, I have updated the build documentation on the wiki for Froyo’s new procedures.

PS: We still have not fixed the SD card bug noted by many HTC Diamond users, but I’m starting to get some great information from helpful users on #xdandroid.

XDAndroid’s New IRC Home

The XDAndroid project had been using the #htc-linux channel on the freenode IRC network to collaborate development. Inadvertently, our Android-related discussion there had been stepping on some toes. That channel is used for kernel development and many of the regulars don’t wish to have Android discussion there to deter from lower-level work being completed. To solve this problem, we’ve created our own channel, also on freenode:¬†#xdandroid. For those of you who have visited or frequented #htc-linux with us, please check out the new channel. We’ll be having all XDAndroid IRC discussion on there from now on. It’s just getting started now, but we plan to have some nice features in there to help collaboration. Thanks!

(Note: We’ll have a web-based client available on the wiki soon.)

XDAndroid Official Wiki

It’s time to introduce yet another XDAndroid service: the official XDAndroid wiki. This work-in-progress wiki has lots of useful information already. The Wiki will hopefully serve as the documentation hub for the project. Currently, the wiki can only be edited by developers. Ultimately, my goal for the wiki is to have it get users very involved in the development process. It’s a bit of a cathedral right now, instead of a bazaar. In time, I hope to get it to a point where users can contribute and developers (or trusted editors) can moderate effectively. Please leave some feedback on the wiki, its layout and the documentation. We really need to know how useful it is for users and how we can make it better!

On a related note, the guy who gave us the domain (and a year’s registration!), sd73ta on XDA, also included a Google Apps standard edition account. So all of the developers will eventually have @xdandroid.com email addresses if they so wish. Thanks a lot, sd73ta!

XDANDROID with GPS on Rhodium

Just a quick update… phhusson has managed to get GPS working on most of our devices now. He has already released a working library for Rhodium, which has been integrated into the latest rootfs. Work will be done to build a library for our other devices (ie. Raphael and Diamond) soon. Keep an eye on the XDANDROID twitter account to see when that hits rootfs. Thanks phhusson!

XDAOSP Project Progress (and teaser photos)

Riding the thunder of Cyanogen’s 5.0.7 announcement, I’ve made some great progress with XDANDROID for our devices. Much of this progress comes from cyanogen’s great work, enabling the Nexus-targetted applications to run on other hardware. Note that for all of this work, I’ve cherry picked cyanogen’s changes in hopes of keeping XDANDROID as close to upstream AOSP as possible. We can worry about feature releases later.

First of all, Gallery3D is now fully functional. In fact, I had gotten it to run before, but it would crash on rotation, sucking the GPU’s memory dry. A simple fix from cyanogen has alleviated that problem. Our XDANDROID fork brings his work to our releases. Here’s a look:

Gallery3D running on XDANDROID

Next up, we have some work with Live Wallpapers, also as seen on Nexus. These are a little more difficult to deal with. Most of them use complex RenderScripts, resulting in a lot of GPU memory hogging. This, in turn, leads to out-of-memory errors and Android system crashes. Unfortunately, I have not yet managed to get these working reliably with hardware 3D rendering. I’ve gotten the Grass wallpaper to run for a short time (2 seconds) before crashing. However, they do run as expected (but slowly) with software rendering, which is good progress. Here’s a look at the Nexus live wallpaper…

Nexus Live Wallpaper on XDANDROID

To get that working at all, I needed to change the base Android framework. The Live Wallpapers use a library called RenderScript, which does the heavy graphical lifting. In upstream AOSP, RenderScript expects an OpenGLES-2.0 capable GPU to be available. Our devices don’t have that luxury, so we have to make it happy with what we’ve got. That means not only letting it render with OpenGLES-1 hardware, but conforming to the GPU’s additional requirements because of that. Luckily, cyanogen made it as easy as flipping a couple of switches in the product config (vendor/xdandroid/msm/BoardConfig.mk).

All of this work is going to be committed (or already has) to gitorious. I still have some more work to do, primarily concerning the Live Wallpapers, then adding a buildspec.mk switch to enable those apps over the default ones. I’m also going to try my hand at getting Launcher2 working, but that could be quite tedious as it’s currently hard-coded to WVGA devices.

If you’re following XDAOSP Eclair development, see the project wiki for updates on how to enable those apps. Thanks for reading!

Quickie: XDANDROID Repository Documentation, Plus…

Just a quick post today… The XDANDROID Eclair repositories on gitorious are working pretty well for me. In hopes of getting other people into the build process, I’ve taken the time to do some documentation on how to build XDANDROID from source. Updated information is available on the XDANDROID gitorious wiki. This information will continually be updated as development commences and options or procedures change.

And now for a free preview teaser. At phhusson’s request(s), I’ve started initial development of a user-oriented XDANDROID kitchen (for Linux only at the moment). In the future, this may allow us to build an online kitchen similar to MoDaCo’s. Stay tuned for development of that kitchen. Current prerelease version (with no documentation) is available at my files repository.

XDANDROID Kitchen Screenshot

XDANDROID Eclair WiFi Tethering

Most of the devices supported by XDANDROID have had both WiFi and 3G working for a while now. In Windows Mobile, there are third party programs that allow you to bridge the 3G connection to an ad-hoc WiFi connection, providing a wireless tether for a notebook computer. After some work last night, I’ve been able to whip up a solution for WiFi-based tethering for Android on our handsets, complete with a friendly GUI. Read on to see what you’ll need to do for this to work on your XDANDROID phone.

Continue reading “XDANDROID Eclair WiFi Tethering”