Developers have created an easy way to load Android, Google’s mobile-phone OS that is still in the works, on Nokia‘s N810 open-source handheld devices.
The development is of interest to people who are trying to build applications for Android, rather than for general users. “So, from the point of view of someone who just wants to use his N800 and doesn’t necessarily want to experiment for the sake of experimenting, what does running Android get me?” one person asked on the Internet Tablet Talk Web site that is sharing the technique for loading the software on the devices.
“Probably not much,” a respondent wrote back. In the future, however, it means that anyone could decide to run Android on the devices and use applications developed for the OS, the respondent said.
For developers, the discovery is exciting. “Testing on a physical device is way different than testing in an emulator,” said Mike Rowehl, a mobile developer who has loaded Android on his N810.
In addition, he thinks this is an important move that indicates the success of the open-source model. “By virtue of building on open-source platforms already well-represented in terms of active projects, developers have been able to get Android up and running on physical hardware,” he said.
The N810 devices run on Maemo Linux, and Android is based on Linux. Since most phones come with closed operating systems, users typically can’t simply remove and replace OSes, as developers were able to do. Because Android isn’t yet complete, no actual phones running the software are available.
In April, developers also posted information about loading Android onto the Nokia tablets on the elinux.org Web site. However, the process was complicated. The new installer makes it much easier for people to load the software onto the devices.
The N810 has a larger form factor than a cell phone, but is much smaller than a laptop. The initial release of the line of Internet tablets, the N770, by Nokia raised some eyebrows because the devices don’t include cellular connectivity. They have Wi-Fi, however, and users can connect a cell phone to the N810 via Bluetooth for mobile access.