August 1, 2012

Tiny Raspberry Pi Computer Is Moving To Android

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Raspberry Pi, a credit card sized computer that typically hosts Linux as its choice operating system, is getting an Android makeover.

The developers for Raspberry Pi said they are adding Google Android's Ice Cream Sandwich as an option for their tiny computer.

The $35 computer features an Ethernet port, an HDMI port, two USB ports, and an SD card slot. It is powered by a 700MHz ARM chip, and comes equipped with 256MB or RAM.

The developers have already made Android hardware-accelerate graphics and video work with the device, but still need to add AudioFlinger, Google's audio system for its Android devices.

Pi users will eventually be able to run Android 4.0, and hook up their devices to TVs and home networks to play with a range of Android content and features.

Although they are still working on making Android completely available, actually getting your hands on a Pi is easier said than done.

Since launching back in February, the tiny-computer quickly sold-out, and has a wait of about 17 weeks on some sites before being available.  When it first came out, buyers were originally limited to just buying one Raspberry Pi device at a time. However, that injunction has since been lifted.

Raspberry Pi could become a smart set-top box for televisions for most users, but others may be able to find another use for it. The device does require its users to supply both a keyboard and monitor, if needed.

So far, the company hasn't unleashed a date for it to start supporting Android 4.0 on the Pi devices. However, some speculated that it could be releasing sometime later this month.

The Android update isn't the only add-on Pi users have been able to experience this year. As reported previously on redOrbit, for just an extra $20 to $25, Pi owners can add on a 5-megapixel camera to their computer.

Eben Upton, founder of the British-based non-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation, announced the upgrade during the Raspberry Jam event in Cambridge, England in July.

The device has also spawned others to make money off of it as well, including one company who started creating cases for the microcomputer.

Bud Industries announced a patented-design called the Bud case designed for Raspberry Pi. The design has oversized windows that could accommodate future versions of the Pi board.

“The Pi Sandwich is ideal for users who will frequently connect and disconnect from the PCB ports, because it holds the board securely and offers easy port access,” said Josiah Haas, Bud Industries Director of Sales. “And the case can be reused even if future versions of the Raspberry Pi board have a different configuration.”