Hello all! I am happy to announce that one of my colleagues, Aravind Prakash, and I have put together a book that gives some practical guidance on using Android on the BeagleBone Black platform. This book is “Android for the BeagleBone Black” from Packt Publishing (ISBN 978-1784392161), and it is now available on Amazon. It covers a number of the details involved in installing Android on the BBB using the 3.8 Linux kernel and creating apps that interface with hardware connected to the BBB’s P8/P9 connectors. There are step-by-step instructions on getting ADB over USB running, adding device tree overlays to your Android system, and setting up the system at boot via the Android init*.rc files. There is also complete source code provided for sample apps that use JNI and AsyncTask background threads to talk with GPIO, I2C, and SPI hardware. We’ve selected some nice hardware components for the examples that will get you up-and-running without requiring you to have extensive hardware knowledge: http://i.imgur.com/bz4Fjeq.jpg
Packt has made a sample of the book available for free here: http://www.slideshare.net/Products123/android-for-the-beaglebone-black-sample-chapter
Back in 2013, I began experimenting with getting Android running on the BeagleBone Black with the 3.8 kernel so that I could quickly and easily interface capes and custom hardware with Android. I made a few Android 4.2.2 JellyBean images available and I received thousands of mails from hobbyists, engineers, and students asking all sorts of questions and sharing info about what they’ve discovered while using Android on the BBB. The Android building process was a bit rough around the edges, so I tried to streamline the process as best as I could. The result was the BBBAndroid project (bbbandroid.org), which allows you to build Android 4.4.4 KitKat with the 3.8 kernel in only a handful of simple steps.
I was surprised at all of the BBB projects that people have been using Android for! A number of engineering firms and universities from all over the world have contacted me for advice about using the open hardware design of the BBB as an Android EVM or as a basis for new Android gizmos and research projects. Having the 3.8 kernel available has allowed them to rapidly integrate and test hardware with their Android system prototypes, so I’ve heard about all sorts of tablets, car computers, portable media devices, smart toasters, etc. that people have been putting together with BBBs running Android. Hopefully, this book will help give people those critical missing bits of information that they need to really dig in and start creating some nice Android-based projects. Since the tutorials and documentation available for Android target the more “official” support for Android on the BBB with the 3.2 kernel, this book helps out those of you who want to use the BBB’s cape manager to easily use commercially-available capes and quickly prototype new hardware and get it talking to Android apps.
Enjoy, and be sure to let me know what Android projects you’re creating for the BBB!