Whether you bought a TouchPad at a firesale price after HP abandoned ship (like me), or for full price after being impressed by WebOS (like my mom), you’re probably getting increasingly frustrated with the lack of applications and HP’s abandoning of the platform. Unless you’re running Android, that is. Increasingly slick and almost fully functional versions of Android are now running on the TouchPad, making it competitive with many current tablets. In this article we’ll give you some advice on how to get started and what to expect if you decide to jump from WebOS to Android on your TouchPad. Otherwise you may be stuck relegating your TouchPad to the role of an overpriced appliance.
Is Android right for you?
Anyone with a TouchPad is certainly a candidate for Android. As application support for WebOS lags further behind both Android and iOS, and with the open-sourced future of the popular WebOS platform in doubt, Android provides a stable alternative with hundreds of thousands of applications. Even better, most of the solutions for running Android on the TouchPad actually make it a multi-boot device, so you can still boot WebOS if and when you need it.
Keeping in mind those benefits, the conversion is not without challenges. It requires some fiddling with unusual installation tools — at least the first time you do it — and then relying on user-supported “hacked” Android ROMs to keep your tablet running. In theory you can brick your tablet (make it unusable), by doing the conversion wrong, but in practice the TouchPad has recovery failsafes that make this almost impossible. Holding down the Power and Home keys together for 10-30 seconds will almost always reset the device, for example. If you have previously flashed custom ROMs on an Android phone or tablet, most of the process — except for the initial steps — will be familiar to you.
So if you’re willing to diligently follow a set of detailed instructions and aren’t afraid of surfing sites full of usually friendly hackers looking for solutions to any issues you run into, Android may be right for you. If you haven’t already bought a TouchPad and are considering taking advantage of the low prices on a used one, make sure and read the caveats.
What’s involved and getting started
The trickiest steps in the process of adding Android to your TouchPad involve loading all the utilities which need to be installed first. On your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer — there is much more support for performing these steps from Windows but it is not the only option — you start by ensuring you have Java installed and then installing the Novacom tool from Palm (the creators of WebOS purchased by HP). The tutorials below will then show you how to use Novacom to download ACMEInstaller (short for A Cyanogen Mod Experimental Installer), which in turn is used to install Moboot — a bootloader for your TouchPad. Along with Moboot, ACMEInstaller can install CWM — the ubiquitous Clockwork Mod Recovery software needed for system maintenance, along with a CyanogenMod ROM version, and an appropriate version of Gapps — versions of Google’s core applications (Gmail, Music, and so on) designed to run on the TouchPad.
This is a lot of software, and involves following quite a few steps, but very detailed instructions for installing CM9 (ICS version of CyanogenmMod) on your TouchPad make it fairly straightforward as long as you pay attention to the order in which things are done. Links to the needed software are either in the tutorial or can be found on RootzWiki and XDA-Developers. If you prefer to watch, there is also this video which walks you through the process.