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Android porting suite targets x86 devices

Jun 2, 2013  |  Eric Brown

Insyde Software announced a development platform for deploying Android on Intel x86 reference platforms. “Software Platform for Android” offers production-ready software components built around Insyde’s UEFI Secure Boot technology and “Humanos” version of Android, and provides a variety of Android tools, as well as customization and testing services.

Software Platform for Android aims to help both OEMs and their customers build x86-based Android devices with high performance, long battery life, security, and wide app compatibility, says Insyde Software. The development platform is based on the company’s Humanos, an optimized version of Android that includes Insyde’s UEFI Secure Boot technology, said to offer secure fast booting functionality (see farther below for more on UEFI).

Humanos users also have access to Insyde Market, the company’s third-party Android app store. Versions of Insyde Market can be private labeled to meet specific OEM requirements, says the company.

Features and benefits provided by Software Platform for Android are said to include:

  • Fast porting of Android OS to x86 platforms with support through mass production
  • UEFI Secure boot to Android OS
  • Assistance in passing Google certification testing
  • Product differentiation with custom firmware, OS features, UI design, and app development
  • Improved input method for many languages
  • Solution to manage and fulfill OS updates

Intel is a major backer and contributor to UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) standards, and sees it as an important technology for emerging Android on x86 smartphones and tablets, as well as embedded devices in general. (See this Intel-written, LinuxGizmos guest column overview of UEFI on embedded and mobile devices.)

UEFI is a firmware interface associated with the BIOS that offers a pre-boot abstraction mechanism for various peripherals on a computer or device. It provides a set of built-in drivers and capabilities upon which OS loaders and pre-OS applications can depend. Most commonly, it is combined with secure-boot technology as in UEFI Secure Boot, a security mechanism that permits only authenticated binaries in the boot process.

Some critics have labeled UEFI Secure Boot as being more of an obstruction mechanism than an abstraction mechanism. The chief complaint targets Microsoft’s use of the technology, which can be used to prevent dual-booting on computers sold with Windows 8. In March, a Spanish Linux software group called Hispalinux filed a complaint with the European Commission against Microsoft over its use of UEFI Secure Boot.

Insyde’s Software Platform for Android appears to be available now. The company will demonstrate the product at Computex Taipei, June 4-7 at the Grand Hyatt Taipei, Suite 2442. More information may eventually be found at Insyde Software.
 

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