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HP Investigates Android TouchPads Delivered With Android 86

Posted by timothy
from the prank-or-mistake dept.
angry tapir writes "HP is investigating how several TouchPads reportedly shipped to end users running Android, instead of webOS. Shortly after HP announced it would stop selling TouchPads and began offering the remaining tablets for US$99, reports surfaced from a few users who say they received TouchPads that run Android instead of HP's webOS software. At the same time, developers have been working on porting Android to the TouchPad, since it's uncertain how much support and development HP will dedicate to webOS in the future."
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HP Investigates Android TouchPads Delivered With Android

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  • Where can I get one? That would SERIOUSLY make the money worth it....

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      I think that the hacking community has already dumped the disk image and is furiously reverse-engineering it, so you might be able to just get a webOS Touchpad and upgrade in future.

      • Cant a bitwise copy be made onto other touchpads?
        • by Anonymous Coward

          It could be, but the thing is, when they reflash the thing with WebOS, they also reflash the touchscreen controller with some other very dumb firmware (from a very advanced one). As such when you run dumped android on a regular touchpad, the touchscreen does not work.
          Now reflashing that touchscreen controller with the advanced firmware is problematic, as there is no real easy recover mode from failures and no way to flash webos-friendly TS firmware either.

      • That really depends on what version of Android it was and whether it contains enough generic Android to have a post-Honeycomb system built upon it.

        The Google Android developers forum thread on the subject does contain comments implying that the Android version shipped may be a version used at the factory to test the hardware. This would imply a heavily customized version, and wouldn't imply anything else (ie it could be pre-Froyo, and could be barely usable.)

        I would want to know more about what was shi

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Shouldn't the title says "HP Investigates WebOS TouchPads Delivered With Android"?

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      HP delivered Touchpad tablets running Android OS (Android Touchpads), but they accidentally also delivered a humanoid automaton (Android) too.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      The submission title was just "HP investigates Android Touchpads", apparently. Editing at its finest.

      • by cornface (900179)

        I actually had some small measure of hope that with Taco out of the way that slashdot's corporate masters might actually begin enforcing some sort of minimal standards.

        The only solution now is to start firing the "editors" one by one until quality improves or nothing gets posted, which is its own sort of improvement.

      • If you look at redundant, it says to "See redundant"
        • That's the entry for recursion, here's redundant:

          Re-dun-dant (adjective)

          1. characterized by verbosity or unnecessary repetition in expressing ideas;

          2. expression of ideas characterized by unnecessary repetition or verbosity;

          3. characterized by unnecessary repetition or verbosity in expressing ideas;

          4, expression of ideas characterized by verbosity or unnecessary repetition;

    • Shouldn't the title says "HP Investigates WebOS TouchPads Delivered With Android"?

      or just "HP Investigates TouchPads Delivered With Android"

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They accidentally sold a product with value. That runs counterpoint to their business plan.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:39AM (#37625020) Homepage

    They didn't ship with Android. They likely shipped with WebOS and had Android installed later. Or perhaps someone was hacking with Android behind the scenes and test units got sent out for sale. I would be more inclined to think these were previously returned and repackaged for sale as new.

    • by Sockatume (732728) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:49AM (#37625132)

      The "Android Touchpads" that were delivered were actually in a much more advanced state (e.g. the touchscreen worked) than the Touchpad hacking scene had achieved.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The "Android Touchpads" that were delivered were actually in a much more advanced state (e.g. the touchscreen worked) than the Touchpad hacking scene had achieved.

        Is there any evidence of this? I suspect it's more likely reports from people who mistook WebOS for Android, since there are several similar visual traits between the two. I'm welcome to be proven wrong, but if sheer stupidity can come into play, then I'll place my money on that almost every single time.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Well, it could have all been faked, but there was a video (more than one, actually) that was quite convincing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmpmlOpvoC0 and in addition, some of the people who got such devices dumped the code and it was Android.

      • by Ed Avis (5917)
        So they can at least extract the binaries off them and offer them for other people to install (breaching the GPL, but who's going to sue?). Getting the source would be even more interesting, of course.
    • by iamhassi (659463)

      They didn't ship with Android. They likely shipped with WebOS and had Android installed later.

      No it's real, here's a video from August 25th, only days after the $99 sale [youtube.com] and long before anyone was working on bringing Android to the Touchpad. [pcworld.com] Here's a different video of Android on Touchpad uploaded August 22nd [youtube.com] and a third video. [youtube.com]

      So where's the ROM? Who's the selfish @#$%& sitting there with Android for the Touchpad but refuses to upload it so the rest of us can enjoy it? If you're too stupid to know how to rip a image then get on a developers forum for instructions or post on craigslist, I'

      • by iamhassi (659463)
        Here's one on eBay from August 28th with link to video. [ebay.com]

        Didn't sell because seller thought it was worth $1,800 (LOL), but seller does have reasonable feedback and has been a member since 2002, it would be foolish to sell a fake Android running Touchpad on eBay and risk losing their account, but people do dumb things for $1800 so who knows, but I would trust a eBay auction from a long time seller with good feedback far more than I would a random Youtube video.
  • BURN!

    That's a shame, I've been playing around with one of the $99 touchpads, and have to say, from the user experience, webOS seems pretty nice.
  • by h00manist (800926) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:45AM (#37625086) Journal

    Funny how the debate is between Linux-1 and Linux-2. Would be good if most Linux apps ran on most Linux OS's.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 06, 2011 @09:03AM (#37625306)

      Linux is a kernel, not an application framework

    • by Microlith (54737)

      Google started the debate by taking the Linux kernel, forking it, and dropping an incompatible user space on it. Now the FOSS Linux user space has to compete with a non-FOSS user space, that happens to be backed by the marketing and advertising revenue of Google.

      Google is, unfortunately, the outlier here. And it causes problems for the rest of the Linux world.

      • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday October 06, 2011 @10:08AM (#37626050)

        Last time I looked, the Android user space is Apache licensed, and the Apache license is FOSS...

        • by Microlith (54737)

          Perhaps the term FOSS is bad, as all Free software is Open Source but not all Open Source software is Free.

          That said, the AOSP is OSS (but not Free, as it can be closed) and at this point, the most current version of Android is totally closed. And it's still largely incompatible with the rest of the Linux world.

          • Just as someone can copy Android and make a closed version (including Google), the same is true of OpenBSD. I *dare* you to tell Theo that he's producing a non-free operating system!

            I consider an operating system whose users are granted certain rights to be free, regardless of whether someone can make their own proprietary version. Should the latter happen, it's the proprietary fork that's non-free, not the original version.

            • by Microlith (54737)

              His definition of "Free" and mine differ, obviously, so my making such a statement would be to deliberately confuse the issue.

              I consider an operating system whose users are granted certain rights to be free, regardless of whether someone can make their own proprietary version. Should the latter happen, it's the proprietary fork that's non-free, not the original version.

              And I consider software that can end up in users hands in a closed state with restrictions piled on top non-Free. Again, it depends on what

      • I'm pretty sure webOS doesn't run a GNU userland either. Now, Maemo does (and I assume Meego does too) - albeit with that awful Busybox crap, but even then, would you want to run Maemo apps under Android or vice versa? Without making one OS a clone of the other (which would defeat the purpose of having two operating systems in the first place) it'd get fairly nasty very quickly.

        I'd also take issue with your description of Android as having a non-FOSS userspace. With the exception of Honeycomb (which is a

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Linux app? There are very few native Linux apps on Android. Android are written in Java and run on the Dalvik [wikimedia.org] framework.

      The only thing even remotely Linuxy about Android is the kernel. Even if you install a terminal emulator it's practically useless with only a small set of the normal commands installed, typically not even "su" until you root the phone.

      Android != Linux in the way Ubuntu = Linux or Red Hat = Linux

  • Sup dawg, I herd you like Android, so I put an Android in your Android so you can Android while you Android.

    OK, now I feel dirty.

    As noted, do they ship refurbs? Ages ago while working for a computer retailer, we once had a Mac that someone took home which had been "re-imaged" by our service department... And when the customer got it home, it booted into BeOS. Not that I would have turned my nose up to it back then, it was a 9600 with "tons" of RAM (512, remember those days? If you had 256 people would
    • Re:So I guess... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by wren337 (182018) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @09:12AM (#37625394) Homepage

      Apparently they have an internal working android port, and the community is requesting the source code (per the license). If it can be shown that HP shipped android, even accidentally, then they need to provide the source on request.

      • The license of Android is Apache 2.0 which has no such requirement.

        • To follow, unless someone can prove that they patched the kernel HP doesn't have to release jack.

          • Patched and distributed outside of the company and its agents...

          • by dririan (1131339)
            That is patently false. You still have to distribute source if you distribute binaries, patched or not. Conveying binaries means you must also provide source (through one of several ways). Just saying "we use unmodified Linux 3.0.4" is not enough, either.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Apparently they have an internal working android port, and the community is requesting the source code (per the license). If it can be shown that HP shipped android, even accidentally, then they need to provide the source on request.

        Maybe not. "Accidental" shipping is not necessarily a distribution or conveyance (per the license). The legal system actually understands that sometimes "mistakes happen" and that there are other remedies. As with much else, the specific details will matter should it get to the courts. HP is clearly positioning itself as having never (knowingly) distributed an Android touchpad. It would not surprise me to learn that it was one of their contract manufacturers that made some error. Regardless that some

        • And even if they were held to it, they only have to release any patches to the kernel. Which means drivers won't get released nor any changes to Android itself. So they will almost nothing of real value.

      • by Toonol (1057698)
        If it can be shown that HP shipped android, even accidentally, then they need to provide the source on request.

        Hmm. I don't think this is quite right; they also have the option to stop offering the product. Since it's not a product they offer, that shouldn't be a problem.
        • by dririan (1131339)
          Even if they stop offering it, people still got binaries that are GPL'd. They still have a right to get the source; the license doesn't stop taking effect when the company stops distributing the binaries, the license is perpetual. Hence you can't remove the GPL from your work and sue people using the latest GPL'd version under the GPL. The courts would likely simply grant an injunction if this ever went to court, but the point is that the GPL requires them to provide source, even if they stop distributing
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Have not looked at GPLv3 but in GPLv2 ceasing distribution of the GPL-licensed code was a remedy to violation.

            • by dririan (1131339)
              If you're right, then I apologize. The FSF states that they must provide source (with no other options mentioned, including ceasing distribution), but I wouldn't put it past them to exaggerate the truth (or omit relevant facts) to "further the cause of freedom."
  • A friend of mine in the Bay area heard from a contact of his that HP first tested all TouchPads with Android before the flash of WebOS prior to shipment. I know that this is only anecdotal hearsay and that I can't substantiate it, but if true it would explain how a few TouchPads running Android could get out in the wild.
  • Considering that the WebOS team at HP is facing almost certain doom, I think it's more likely a disgruntled (or altruistic) engineer somewhere inside decide to slip a few units out the door. If nothing else, to make sure their work didn't go completely to waste.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      The disgruntled engineers are on the other side of the Pacific ocean from the people that are making the actual Touchpads.

  • It might just be me, but I find this rather disturbing, an incorrect OS on a device is a pretty obvious mistake to spot, if HP can accidentally ship TouchPads running an OS they never intended to release then surely there's a real risk of them shipping PCs, servers or switches preloaded with rootkits/backdoors that are designed to be well hidden?

    Maybe I've just been wearing my tinfoil hat for too long though!
    • by DMFNR (1986182)

      You're right, and this is one of the big risks of having the majority of our consumer electronics being manufactured overseas. In this case it's pretty obvious that HP did absolutely no quality control testing on the software on these specific Touchpads, they could have shipped with absolutely anything on them and nobody would have noticed until it got to the end user. Something designed to hide in the background might never be discovered. There's so many risks that go along with these kind of things tha

  • by fluffy99 (870997) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @10:00AM (#37625972)

    The Cyanogen team would be foolish to even look at the dumped ROM from these tablets. It sounds like they really want the drivers for things like the video and bluetooth, which are likely closed source binaries. That would make them no better than any other company violating the GPL.

    It's kind of ironic that they are trying to strong arm HP and Qualcomm using legal tactics into releasing code that they never intended to release. (Yes in many ways using GPLd code is like poisoning your project). Even if it was a compiled driver that they intended to installed on tablets they sold, they are still under no obligation to release anything unless it was based on GPL'd code.

    • by Microlith (54737)

      That would make them no better than any other company violating the GPL.

      Only if they redistributed them. But with Bluetooth it's almost always a firmware issue (which could be had from any existing Touchpad.) You're probably right about the graphics drivers (the disaster there we can thank Google for.)

      Yes in many ways using GPLd code is like poisoning your project

      Bullshit. If you wander into using GPL'd sources for something without knowing what its terms are, you are a fool.

      • by fluffy99 (870997)

        That would make them no better than any other company violating the GPL.

        Only if they redistributed them. But with Bluetooth it's almost always a firmware issue (which could be had from any existing Touchpad.) You're probably right about the graphics drivers (the disaster there we can thank Google for.)

        Yes in many ways using GPLd code is like poisoning your project

        Bullshit. If you wander into using GPL'd sources for something without knowing what its terms are, you are a fool.

        My point was that decompiling a proprietary binary, and then releasing it as GPL is just as bad as taking GPL and rolling it into your proprietary binary. It doesn't matter if they redistribute or develop their own drivers after that, because the case can be made (and has been made in other instances such as wine) that they didn't develop their version entirely on their own. The cyanogen team should take care not to expose themselves to anything not obtained properly least the rightful owners of that IP

  • It's more likely (or at least possibly) a case of "let's see if we can get HP to cough up their Android code for the Touchpad". Step 1: Claim HP shipped Touchpads with Android. Step 2: Tell HP that this obligates them to share the code. Step 3: Hope HP complies.

  • Search for touchpad on sites like wallmart.

    It will show only Chinese android tablets.

    Sum that with clueless people trying to find the 99 tablet bargain.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      They're bought from HP, shipped from HP, come in an HP Touchpad box and are clearly actually HP Touchpads. And you have somehow decided that they are off-brand Android tablets bought from Wal-mart.

      Do you make a game out of drawing conclusions from the most incorrect information possible?

  • I think some people have it wrong or just missed the part where there is not an absolutely fully functional working version of android for the HP Touchpad. So a modder could've loaded CM7 on the tablet but it wouldn't be running as if it came from a factory(or maybe it could, I've had some crappy tabs before). Besides that point, if there's no video/proof that this happened, then it's yet another internet rumor as far as I'm concerned.
  • it's uncertain how much support and development HP will dedicate to webOS in the future.

    Who says they're even supporting them now?
    The web browser is seriously broken and I don't expect them to fix it.
    Last I looked there aren't any viable replacements either.
    You can't save a login and visited links do not work.
    When you hit the back-button instead of going back to your place from memory, it renavigates back to the server.

    Hey, for 149.00 that was what it was worth.

  • by PPH (736903) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @11:05AM (#37627040)

    I guess they'll have to fire the CEO.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I picked up a $99 touchpad and found WebOS really a great operating system, far more polished than android is today and certainly more than android was on launch. Its really a beautiful tablet OS, hope it finds a home somewhere.

  • ... congrat these employees?
  • The current speculation is that the folks at Qualcomm have been using the Touchpad as a reference design as it uses their CPU, and have been working on Android support internally.

    The suspicion is that some Touchpads made it out into the wild with this testing version of Android installed.

  • I have a $99 touchpad and for what it is worth I think webos is perfectly okay. I won't be putting android on it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Enjoy your 4 applications.

  • Dear me, that's quite the goof. They should have used a Microsoft Access database to keep track of which OS to install on each device.

  • From the rootzwiki site here is what is working and what is not working. As you can see they are very close to releasing a beta.

    WORKING
    Android USB gadget with adb
    LVM in Android
    Touchscreen with multitouch
    GPU acceleration
    Proper pixel format(color).
    Sound via speakers
    WiFi
    Accelerometer
    Battery reporting

    NOT WORKING
    Video playback via overlay
    Camera
    Bluetooth
    Gyroscope
    Compass

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