The Android Tablets FAQ - For those new to Android
This is a community FAQ here to organize information for Android tablets.
If you want to ask questions, it would be better to start a new thread or to find the correct thread.
Last updated July 27 2013.
On Android Features
1) What are the requirements for Adobe Flash on Android?
The official requirements for Adobe Flash on Android include Android 2.2 AND a CPU better or equal to the Cortex A8 CPU. Cortex A9 CPUs including Tegra 2 processors also work. The Cortex A5 and A7 processors also are expected to be supported.
While Adobe Flash Player is no longer available on the Google Play Store, it can be downloaded directly from Adobe:
Archived Flash Player versions
Adobe's official statement on this is here:
rich Internet applications | Adobe Flash Player system requirements
There is evidence that Adobe Flash may work on legacy platforms, but this is limited to special versions of Adobe Flash deviating from the official versions released by Adobe. There appears to be several different implementations of this. The versions that run best seem to be on systems with at least Android 2.2. Performance of unofficial versions of Adobe Flash on unsupported platforms is lower than official versions on supported platforms.
2) Can I view animated GIF in Android
The feature of animated GIF files for the web browser was added between Android 2.1 and Android 2.2. All devices Android 2.1 can be configured to run animated GIF files after modifications to system files. However, as GIF files in the browser are demanding on the CPU and memory, it is usually a disabled feature even on Android devices shipping with Android 2.2. There are still issues with viewing GIF files as individual files.
3) Can I view my calendar and email offline with my Android device?
Yes. The easiest way to do so is via the included Google applications on your device. You will need to sync your data to the device periodically by connecting to the internet, where your device your retrieve your data from the Google cloud. Supported Google services include but are not limited to Gmail and Google Calendar.
There are also third-party applications to perform such tasks.
4) Can I watch videos on my Android device?
Video support for Android devices vary, depending on the chipset and associated video decoder employed on the device. Flash video depends on support for Adobe flash. However, some web services such as Youtube have videos formatted for mobile devices and does not require Adobe flash to view.
With more recent products with Cortex A8 or better, the device may contain a technology called NEON, which allows you to run apps that can do the decoding for you efficiently. Examples of these applications include MoboPlayer, VPlayer, MXPlayer, and DicePlayer.
5) Can I rotate the screen on my Android device?
Many Android devices have built in G-sensors (accelerometers) that detect the orientation of the device and rotates the screen. However, this may not always be implemented correctly, or disabled altogether. Make sure you have not enabled the 'lock rotation' setting on the tablet.
About Android Tablets
1) Where's a good list of Android tablets I can start off with?
Wikipedia: List of Android devices - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thread: Overview of Android Tablets on the Market, Classified by Chipsets
When in doubt, the Google Nexus 7 and 10 tablets are a good choice. Google guarantees software updates for these tablets, and this is still very important for tablets as the tablet oriented features of Android are just beginning to mature.
2) How is the market like for Android tablets today?
Many major electronics brands now manufacture Android tablets, including Acer, ASUS, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba. There are also many secondary manufacturers which may cost less but may result in a compromise in customer support, device quality, or future firmware updates.
Beware of the many low cost tablets from China, typically below $200 and originating from Shenzhen shanzhai factories. Shanzhai factories have traditionally been involved with cloning cellphones, and other consumer electronics. However, tablet devices or MID (mobile internet devices) are becoming more and more popular, as it is far less risky to manufacturer and has far fewer legal implications such as IMEI faking. These are lower end devices with poor support and quality control, and are generally not recommended. You will find many such listings on eBay. The safest bet is to buy from a brick-and-mortar retail store, or from the Google Play Store (if available in your country). Make sure you have warranty from the original manufacturer to avoid any issues.
3) Is there firmware support for my tablet?
It depends on your original design manufacturer's willingness to provide the firmware for its end-users. However, with generic shanzhai tablets, the stock firmware is usually not very good and begs to be customized. But this is where custom firmware development can really thrive and drive a community.
When in doubt, stick with a Nexus.
4) Can I upgrade the RAM in my tablet?
Typical tablets are embedded platforms, and do not have replaceable RAM modules. They are closer to the smartphone than a netbook. So no, you can't just upgrade the RAM in most cases.
5) Can I upgrade the ROM (storage space) in my tablet?
Usually not. The flash memory ROM chip is typically soldered on the mainboard and is not end-user replaceable.
Some tablets have external storage in the form of a microSD card. This is of limited value, because recent versions of Android do not allow the installation of applications or application data on to external storage devices.
6) Can I charge my Android tablet with the USB port on my computer?
Depends. If it changes with the USB port of your computer, it does so quite slowly. USB ports are usually not enough for charging Android tablets due to the electrical design of the tablet itself and the amount of current a USB port typically supplies. Stick with the charger that comes with the tablet.
7) What is a good size for the Android tablet today?
If you buy a tablet today with Android 4.0 or greater, you can pick the size you want and not be worried about whether or not apps will look good on the device.
The most common form factor for the average Android 1.x-2.x tablet was a 7"-8" TFT LCD display at 800x480. However, there has been a significant increase in the number of users with larger screens, especially after the release of Android 3.0 Honeycomb, which was exclusive to 10" devices with a resolution of 1280x800.
Android 2.3 officially supports larger screen sizes, up to 10". Previous Android versions will not be able to use applications optimized for tablet use, specifically with regards to high-resolution graphics. However, the experience of Android on previous versions is generally favorable for devices with at least Android 1.6 and a 800x480 (more recently 854x480 for Sony Ericsson devices) resolution, and a 7" screen. Another popularized screen resolution since Android 2.2 is 1024x600, for both 7" and 10" devices. Getting a device with a non-standard screen resolution results in application incompatibility and breakage.
8) Who makes my tablet?
Just as with any other electronics product you buy today, an Android tablet is made up of different components and is a joint effort by multiple companies.
If you bought a generic shanzhai tablet, the manufacturers usually like to hide their manufacturing chain. It is usually a multi-company effort to produce a tablet. Involved parties typically include: the chipset manufacturer, the assembly factory, the original design manufacturer (product design and conceptualization), and the electronics developer (also in charge of firmware, sometimes whose function is replaced by the chipset manufacturer).
If you need help figuring out what you have, start here: http://www.androidtablets.net/forum/...formation.html
9) My tablet looks the same as another tablet? Is it safe to assume that this is the tablet I have, and that I can go ahead and use the firmware designated for that device?
Going by outer appearances alone for unbranded tablets is not wise, because some manufacturers are known to swap the internals of devices without any changes to the outer appearance. This practice is confusing for consumers, but saves money from a manufacturer's point of view. As such, this practice is not going to stop any time soon. This happens less often with branded devices. But if the brand is just rebranding existing generic devices rather than developing them, they cannot control this behavior.
Do not flash a firmware that was not intended for your device.
10) Can I install Microsoft Windows on my tablet?
Microsoft Windows XP / Vista / 7 /8 usually has no support for the type of hardware used by most Android tablets. As such, you generally cannot install Windows onto an Android tablet. As for Windows 8 RT, even though it should be possible to run this software on hardware in Android tablets, Microsoft has not made this easily achievable.
There are some rare exceptions to this, specifically if the processor has an x86 architecture. There are some Android tablets that dual boot Windows based on x86 Intel Atom processor. Android typically runs on processors with ARM architectures, which is not natively supported by Windows.
11) Can I install Android tablet or computer that already runs Windows?
The Android x86 project is an effort to attempt to allow x86 computers to run Android. Currently, the project is run by volunteers with limited resources. As a result, there are not many x86 computers that actually perform as expected when running Android. The project offers bootable USB images you can try to see the level of compatibility with your device.
12) Can I expect to use my USB mouse/keyboard/storage drive with my tablet?
This depends on the manufacturer. If there is support, you will need to obtain a USB OTG dongle or cable. The port needs to be connected in a specific way inside the tablet for USB peripherals to work. Generally, you can expect mice, keyboards, and storage drives (FAT) to work if your device does support this feature.
08-04-2010 09:11 AM
1) What is root and why do I want to root?
Read this thread: [RESOURCE] What is Rooting? Why do I want to Root?
2) What's the newest version of Android right now?
Android 4.3, also called Jellybean. The previous version of Android was 4.2 and was also called Jellybean. Android 4.1 was also called Jellybean.
3) Can I upgrade my Android version to 1.6/2.x/3.x/4.x/the latest version?
Upgrading Android is not as trivial as you think. It is certainly nothing like upgrading Microsoft Windows or OSX, which have both been designed to be upgradable operating systems. The ability to upgrade Android depends on the manufacturer's support, as additional development is required to upgrade. The process of migrating the operating system to the hardware is not trivial to the end-user.
4) What is a list of officially supported screen resolutions of Android?
Android 4.0 supports a large range of screen resolutions, making the following information obsolete. You generally don't have to worry about screen resolution support if you have Android 4.0 or higher.
But if you are considering an Android 2.x device, the following information may be of interest to you.
As of Android 2.2, Android officially supports 854x480, 800x480, 480x320, and some more smaller screen sizes. Any resolutions not listed can likely result in application incompatibility. Android 2.3 adds support for larger sizes, such as 1280x800, up to 10".
Android 3.0 is a version of Android designed to be used for tablet use. New tools allow programmers to create applications that work better on larger screens. It also allows richer content. The optimized resolution is 1280x800 for this version of Android.
You can find that information via Android.com, here:
Supporting Multiple Screens | Android Developers
Android 1.5 and earlier versions of the platform were designed to support a single screen configuration — HVGA (320x480) resolution on a 3.2" screen. Because the platform targeted just one screen, application developers could write their applications specifically for that screen, without needing to worry about how their applications would be displayed on other screens. Starting from Android 1.6, the platform adds support for multiple screen sizes and resolutions, reflecting the many new types and sizes of devices on which the platform will run. This means that developers must design their applications for proper display on a range of devices and screens.
(updated for Android 2.2)
5) What is, and why do I want a custom recovery? Also more information on how firmware updates work.
A recovery image refers to a safe mode the tablet can boot into to perform system recovery, factory resets and data wipes, or system updates in the case of most standard Android devices. Android updates are typically delivered in an 'update.zip' format, which is a specially signed and packaged zip archive containing scripts and files pertaining to a system upgrade. However, not all manufacturers follow this scheme of updating the firmware. The recovery image can be regarded as a separate operating system (like booting Linux on a PC running Windows) that allows you to perform modifications on the designated operating system (in this case, Android).
Custom recovery images, such as Clockworkmod Recovery, are modified recovery images (or modified recovery operating systems) that extend the functionality of manufacturer original recovery images to allow for user modifications. In particular, it allows for users to create their own 'update.zip' packages signed by what are known as 'test keys'. Users can then deliver their own system modifications easily by sharing their repacked 'update.zip' packages.
Another important function typical with custom recovery images is the inclusion of a script called 'nandroid', which creates full backups of the running system and all associated data in the form of a disk image. The nandroid backup files can be easily restored to rollback the Android operating system to a previous backed-up state. This also allows users to attempt drastic changes to their operating system without risking the loss of user data.
Some manufacturers defer to a low-level firmware flash for firmware upgrades, which involves booting the device into a special bootloader mode to flash the firmware. This takes place automatically in some cases, provided that the correct files are placed either in the internal memory, or on an external SD card. Others use an external update server to serve firmware over-the-air. Some devices have been noted to ship without a bootable recovery image, or one that has been heavily modified that it is more difficult to deploy the functions of typical Android custom recovery images for the platform.
The standard custom recovery is the best way for users to safely modify their firmware, and roll back any changes.
For Android and Firmware Developers
1) Where do I get started?
Android.com - Android at Google I/O
2) How do I make a custom firmware for a device?
You need access to a Unix based environment to be able to unpack and repack the firmware contents, as they use file permissions that are not compatible with Windows file systems.
The structure and layout of the firmware packages typically depends on the chipset manufacturer.
Firmware developers are capable of modifying or adding features to existing firmware by writing or applying their own written code. This typically means downloading the Android open-source project in its entirety and compiling portions or all of it.
Firmware cooks typically refer to individuals who swap in components of an existing firmware, mixing and matching components to 'cook' a firmware. Cooks may also spice up the firmware by adding in small tweaks and parameters. Repackaging existing applications and theming would also constitute to cooking. While cooks do not significantly modify the underlying behavior of the existing firmware distribution, they tend to the needs of the community by performing small detail changes firmware developers otherwise may not have time to complete.
3) Is the kernel source code, or any source code available for the device?
It usually depends on how big the chipset manufacturer firm or original design manufacturer is. Even though the Linux kernel falls under the GPL, foreign manufacturers have ignored this. Here's an excellent article to get an idea of how bad it is:
Project Gus » The Sad State of Open Source in Android tablets
A page tracking the state of Android tablets and GPL compliance is here
Unfortunately, the current crop of Android tablets aren’t nurturing open source at all.
Hi Xaueious ( For ......'s sake couldn't you think of something simpler!);
If you are in the British Army, you would have received a Victoria Cross, in USA perhaps Medal of Honour(?) - I don't know the equ. in Canada! But what an awsome piece of facts!! It should be headed as "MUST read for all new to Android".
Thanks a TON anyway
Hello All. I'm new to this device and wondering when I connect thru the enthernet and try to connect to gmail or app market it says can not connect to the network, UTube won't play any videos I can access ebay, att, msn and other web sites with any problems.
I have a Eken Mid M001 and it restarts over and over again!
Any ideas on how to get this device running properly
I'd like to ask a few questions and hopefully get them added to the FAQ and of course get answers to the questions as well.
Q: I hear it is difficult to use "Android Market Place" on a tablet as the market place does not officially support tablets, only cell phones. Is this true?
Q: When you connect to the market place the system tries to determine which cell phone model you have and then will only show apps in the market place that your device can use which can cause a lot of the available apps to not show or be available for download/purchase. Is this true?
Q: Does anyone know if the market place will support tablets soon?
@soupie2774 Not sure how to help. Beyond reflashing the firmware there's not much to do for the typical end-user
@Draugr I am probably not the best person to answer those questions, but my understanding is that the Android market is a part of the Google mobiles applications package that requires the manufacturer to be a part of the open handset alliance to use legally. The problem with tablets without the Android market is not because the market is not ready for tablet apps, since there isn't really any distinguishing of tablet or phone apps, but the tablet manufacturers not willing or not able to acquire the Google mobile applications package and the Android Market that it comes with.
When you connect to the market, it does cause some apps not to show up if you do not have a particular model. But the majority of the apps on the market have no such restrictions, whether it be an Android phone or tablet.
Hi, what tablet would be best for me, I want to watch high quality videos and browse the Internet as well as using the Android Marketplace. Most of these tablets essentially require a stylus, right?
hi my name is dave i am having a problem on geting the mic to work the o/s is a 1.5 can any one help thanks