What is BBBAndroid?
BBBAndroid is a port of AOSP Android KitKat 4.4.4 to the BeagleBone Black. Using the BeagleBone Black's custom Linux 3.8 kernel, BBBAndroid brings the BBB's "cape manager" functionality to the Android environment. This makes BBBAndroid a great choice for hobbyists, students, and professionals that wish to experiment with hardware interfacing under the Android OS.
The Rowboat and TI Android DevKit projects currently have support for building Android for the BeagleBone Black, but there is a problem: these build Android for a 3.2 Linux kernel. This means that the following limitations are present in these builds:
- There is no device tree overlay support. Device tree overlays allow BBB users to configure the multiplexing of pins for GPIO and Cape boards dynamically without requiring a kernel rebuild.
- These two are based around Android Jelly Bean. If you are interested in running Android KitKat from AOSP, you are out of luck.
- Any of the patches in the mature 3.8 Linux kernel tree must be retrofitted back to the 3.2 kernel, which can be a lot of work.
Download A Pre-Made Image
Do you want to get up and running with BBBAndroid as quickly as possible? You can download the latest pre-made image (about 265 MB in size) from here. Decompress it with xz to create the raw 8 GB image, and then dd the image onto a microSD card that is at least 8 GB in size. Put the microSD card into your BBB, power it on (you don't have to hold the "boot" button down at power on), and BBBAndroid will boot and come up.
Use a USB mouse (and a USB keyboard, too, if you'd like) connected to the BBB's host USB port to interact with the system. Audio and video will be sent over the HDMI connection. The Android page on the elinux.org wiki has details on how to dd an image to a microSD card.
If you would like to browse the BBBAndroid's main repo manifest (the list of Git repositories that make up the entire project), you can view the manifest XML file at github.
Need Some Help?
Our new book "Android for the BeagleBone Black" will help you make the most out of your new BBBAndroid system. We've answered thousands of mails asking hundreds of questions about using Android for custom hardware projects on the BeagleBone Black, and this book collects the answers together in one place. If you would like to create a custom Android device based upon the BeagleBone Black design, this book should be in your library. Some of the topics covered are:
- Installing BBBAndroid on your BeagleBone Black
- Setting up and troubleshooting your Android app development environment
- Shopping for all of the hardware that you need for serious BeagleBone Black development
- Creating apps that talk directly to GPIO, I2C, and SPI devices
- Automatically loading kernel modules and device tree overlays at boot
- Understanding how to access hardware using JNI calls and background AsyncTasks
Packt Publishing has made a sample of the book available for free online.