If you bought an HP TouchPad, you bought a tablet whose operating system has, shall we say, an uncertain future. But a group of independent developers is working to give your purchase a new lease on software life.
Yes, they're porting Android to the HP TouchPad.
Thomas Sohmers, the developer leading the project, did not immediately respond to a request to discuss his effort to Googlize HP's tablet, but in a blog post, he says the goal is to keep Touchdroid "as open as possible".
The initial plan is to port Android 2.3 – aka Ginderbread – to the HP tablet, using code from the Android Open Source Project. But after they successfully boot the tablet to Android, the team intends to switch to the CM7 Android code base from well-known Android modder "Cyanogen", who recently landed a job with Samsung.
Once a "stable beta" is in place, the team will begin work on a version based on Honeycomb, the first Android incarnation specifically designed for tablets. But if Google's next Android release, Ice Cream Sandwich, arrives before the Honeycomb port is finished, Sohmers and his fellow developers will switch to that.
The trouble with Honeycomb is that Google has not open sourced it – and doesn't intend to. The company has promised, however, that Ice Cream Sandwich will be open sourced – at some point later this year.
Porting Android to the TouchPad my be a tad ambitious – especially when you consider that the Touchdroid team seems to consist of teenagers with relatively little experience in this area – but others have mooted the possibility of building a system that will run Android applications atop the TouchPad's webOS. RIM has done something similar on its PlayBook tablet, which runs an OS based on QNX, the UNIX-esque microkernel operating system. ®