Asus published their first beta Android release (version 188.8.131.52) for the Tinker Board back in April. It was an important step for this single board computer, as Android is a hugely popular operating system with a phenomenal range of open source and proprietary software available. While the initial release was withdrawn from Asus’s support website, Asus followed up the initial release with some minor updates (versions 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11) boasting some fairly modest improvements.
Version 18.104.22.168 was released last Friday. Given that 13.11.04 was released in mid May, there’s been ample time to see significant developments. And hopes were raised by Asus not labeling the latest release as a beta release. Is this a breakthrough step? Let’s have a look at the official changelog (it’s not an exact quote as the text appears to be a translation).
1. [Recovery] Remove unnecessary mounted external_sd and unnecessary wipe frp.
2. Update Bluetooth firmware 20170504_BT_ANDROID_6.0_COEX_8723BS-6549 of Realtek (libbt-rtk).
3. [Selinux] Fix “Ethernet: change ethernet irq smp affinity to cpu1” when selinux enabled.
4. [Recovery] Storage: disable external_sd support
5. ts: Add the ft5406 idc file for tinker board.
6. Display: add tinker board default wallpaper for dsi panel
7. Video: remove unsupported file format for media profile
8. HDMI: fix build hwcomposer break
9. HDMI: fix sprite lag when setting 1920x1080p-50
10. Read SoC serial number from efuse.
11. ts: Add the ft5406 touch driver for tinker board.
12. Display: support boot logo with HDMI screen
13. HDMI: skip 50Hz and 60Hz settings of 3840x2160p
14. HDMI: auto set biggest resolution
15. asus: rk3288: fixed the bug — failed to lock cpll
16. Display: get default HDMI panel info at uboot phase
17. Display: enable asus panel at boot phase
18. Video: add media codec config for tinker board
19. Video: modify codec xml setting
20. Video: update rk media library
As you can see, the majority of the changes are, disappointing, only bug-fixes.
The process of booting the latest release hasn’t changed. I use the fantastic open source utility Etcher to write the 250MB zip file to a spare microSD card.
Booting up, you’ll see the familiar desktop.
There are no additions to the apps menu. Asus told me 3 months ago there are factors to consider before they are able to include the Google Play store and Google Play services with their Android image. Sadly these ‘factors’ have not been resolved, and so we still don’t have the Google Play Store with 13.11.05. The APK installation tool, ApkInstaller, was present in the previous release, but it’s only an adequate makeweight.
I wrote a popular guide how to install the Play Store app in this blog post. It is beset with problems though, so we really need an official version of Google Play Store. Come on Asus! And there’s still no process of updating the operating system in the normal Android way. Having to start again and reflash the image is a pain. Lots of the other existing issues still remain.