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Intel prepping x86 port for Android 2.2

Jun 28, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Intel is working to port Android 2.2 to the x86 platform, says APC. Meanwhile, Sprint said it will soon upgrade the Evo 4G to Android 2.2, and Google disabled two Android apps on Android Market, says eWEEK.

Intel will ship a native x86 version of Android 2.2 ("Froyo") within the next two months, and make it available to the Android developer community, a company executive reportedly told the Australian website APC. The port focuses on the Intel Atom, creating the possibility for future Atom-powered smartphones, tablets, and netbooks running Android.

The story quotes Renee James, SVP and GM of Intel's Software and Services Group, as saying, "Our expectation is that [native x86 Android] will be based on the Froyo release and will be available this summer to developers." James told APC that porting Android to the x86 architecture "wasn't tremendously difficult, as we have a lot of experience in Linux." 

So far, the closest pairing we've seen of Android with the Intel Atom has been Acer's dual-boot, Atom-powered Acer Aspire One D250-1613, as well as its similar new Acer Aspire One D260 (pictured at right), which is based on an Atom N450 or new DDR3-ready N455. In both cases, however, Acer has used a stripped down version of Android dedicated to the modest role providing a fast-boot OS alternative to Windows.

In May, Intel joined Google, Sony, Logitech and the Dish Network in announcing an Atom- and Android-powered Google TV platform. Later this year, a "Sony Internet TV," as well as a Logitech set-top box that was recently revealed by the company to be called the Logitech Revue will ship with Android, running on Intel's Atom-based CE4100 system-on-chip. The APC story, however, mentions nothing about set-top boxes or Google TV.

It will be interesting to see how actively Intel pushes Android on netbooks, tablets, and smartphones. The chipmaker is actively promoting the open source Linux MeeGo operating system on all those platforms.

Android 2.2 going to Evo 4G 

Since Android 2.2 was announced over a month ago, some Google Nexus One owners have been upgraded to the new version, but there have been few other firm announcements on what phones will gain the update and when. Now Sprint has confirmed to our sister publication eWEEK that its HTC Evo 4G (pictured) will get the Froyo upgrade "soon."

Last week, Verizon Wireless and Motorola said that the new Droid X will get an over-the-air upgrade to Android 2.2 later this summer, following an earlier commitment to update the original Motorola Droid.

Froyo improvements specifically touted by Sprint were said to include updates to the user interface, improved EAS Support, and improved browser performance, including Flash 10.1 support. Other enhancements include voice dialing over Bluetooth and application storage on external memory, a spokesperson told eWEEK.

Android 2.2 will not be available for Sprint's HTC Hero or Samsung Moment, the spokesperson was said to have confirmed.

Open source Android 2.2 code was released on June 23, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The release will enable developers to start working on applications that take advantage of Froyo's enterprise capabilities, as well as new APIs that leverage Google's cloud computing assets, says the story.

Google applies "kill switch" to disable "useless" apps

Google's Android team has facilitated the removal of two free, but apparently useless applications from the Android Market, citing violations of its developer terms, according to a third Clint Boulton story on eWEEK. Using a "kill switch" technology for remote application removal, the team disabled two applications created by a security expert for research purposes, says the story.

The apps were not malicious, but since they duped users into downloading them and then offered no benefits, they violated development terms, wrote Google's Android Security Lead Rich Cannings in a blog post.

The developers agreed to voluntarily remove these apps, but Google applied its "kill switch" technology to quickly remove the remaining installed copies. (This was presumably after the "top kill" and "junk shot" techniques failed to do the job.)

Boulton speculates that the move was primarily a PR stunt to counter the impression created by a recent, controversial research study from security vendor SMobile Systems that Android applications are havens for malware. The study was said to have analyzed more than 48,000 Android Market applications, and found that 20 percent request permission to access sensitive information that an attacker could use for some malicious purpose, says the story.

A number of observers have argued that the report reveals nothing we did not know already, and that all Android app developers are forced to inform users what private data is being used. In an email to eWEEK, Google said the report falsely implies that Android users don't have control over which applications access their data.

"Not only must each Android app get users' permission to access sensitive information," wrote Google, "but developers must also go through billing background checks to confirm their real identities, and we will disable any apps that are found to be malicious."


The APC story on the Intel x86 port for Android may be found here.

The eWEEK report on Sprint's Android 2.2 upgrade plans should be here, and its earlier story on last week's Android 2.2 code release should be here.

The eWEEK report on Google's "kill switch" adventures should be here, and the Google blog post on the app removal should be here.

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