Those of you who have done Android development or played around with your Android phones already know how to do this, but for anyone new to the Android application world, I’ll go over a really easy way to install new Android applications on your RIoTboard by sideloading them over the Android debugger (adb). And these Android apps can include things like Netflix!dit
Edit: The super easy way to get normal Android apps is to download the APK for the Amazon App Store in the Android browser, click on the download button to download it, and go to the "Downloads" Android app to execute the installer. The info below shows a more generic way of installing apps which bypasses app stores and is how custom Android apps can be installed and tested on the RIoTboard.
Part I: Android USB Drivers
The first step is to get the proper software on your computer in order to run the Android Debugger (ADB) which is used to talk to the RIoTboard. This is done by using the Android Development Tools (ADT) package to install the key software pieces. The two blog posts (Part I and Part II) go over the details of this process when it describes how to setup the Android programming environment.
1. Download the latest Android SDK http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html
2. Unzip the package to a directory of your choice
3. Inside that directory, double click on SDK Manager.exe (or similar for Linux or Mac users)
4. There are three key software packages to install
- Android SDK Tools and Android SDK Platform-tools (Under “Tools” at the top of the list)
b. Google USB Driver (Under “Extras” at the bottom of the list)
5. Then click on the Install button
6. It’ll then ask you to accept the license, and click on Install again
7. The SDK Manager will then download and install the tools and drivers necessary.
Part II: Configure Android on the RIoTboard
While the software is downloading, you can configure Android on the RIoTboard .
There are two things that need to be done:
- Enable debugging
- Enable installation of 3rd party apps
To enable debugging:
- Go to Settings
- Scroll down to the bottom and click on About Tablet
3. Scroll Down to the bottom to Build Number
4. Click on Build Number 7 times. After about 3 clicks you’ll see a pop up saying you’ll be developer after only 4 more clicks.
5. After getting the message about enabling the developer options, go back to the main Settings page.
6. You’ll now notice there’s a “Developers options” section at the bottom
7. Inside that section, click on “USB debugging” to check it
To enable 3rd Party app installation:
- Go to Settings
- Click on Security
3. Scroll down a little bit until you get to “Unknown sources” and click on it to check it
Part III: Connect and Test
After the SDK Manager is done downloading and installing the moment of truth awaits. Getting the USB drivers to connect to an Android device correctly is where most of the headaches happen.
Connect a USB cable between your computer and the mini-USB port located next to the Ethernet port (do not use the one next to the camera connector). If all goes well it’ll enumerate properly and you’ll be able to make a debug connection.
To test out the connection, open a terminal prompt inside the platform-tools directory at <ADT install directory>\adt-bundle-windows-x86-20131030\sdk\platform-tools
If you type “adb devices” you should see a device connected:
However if you type “adb devices” and it comes back with no devices, then the driver needs to be installed manually:
The driver can be found in <ADT install directory>\adt-bundle-windows-x86-20131030\sdk\extras\google\usb_driver
Typically you can go to the Device Manager, find the board (it should enumerate as something even without the driver), right click on it, and go to Properties > Update Driver > Browse > Let me pick > Computer > Have Disk > Browse > and navigate to the folder listed above to point it to the correct driver.
If you have trouble, check out the following links:
You can also type “adb shell” to enter the Android shell.
The first time you successfully connect to the board via the Android debugger, a message will pop up in Android asking if you would like to allow USB debugging. Click on OK to accept.
Part IV: Loading apps
Finally the last and easiest part. Android apps are distributed as APK files. These can be found on the web by Googling the "program_name apk". However a much simplier solution is to install a 3rd party Android app store like the Amazon App Store.
Place the APK file in the same directory as the adb.exe, which is at <ADT install directory>\adt-bundle-windows-x86-20131030\sdk\platform-tools
Open up a terminal prompt, and type:
adb install AmazonApps-release.apk
You should see a display like above in the terminal, and if you look in the Android app drawer, you’ll see that the Amazon app store is now there. From this point you can load it, login via your Amazon account, and download lots of different free and paid apps. You can also use the same process to install other Android APK files.
One of those available is Netflix and it actually works very well as you can see from the attached short movie of the Walking Dead I shot with my phone.