Set Top Box (STB), television, IVI, and other developers looking to add value to Intel Atom™ embedded systems are increasingly turning to Google* Android OS. In particular, they are leveraging end users’ familiarity with Android’s User Interface and its large volume of apps to give their products an edge. However, many developers face challenges making the transition to Android. For example, embedded devices often employ proprietary designs that do not natively support Android.
American Megatrends (AMI) DuOS (1) helps solve these challenges by allowing Android applications on top of Microsoft* Windows* (2). Among other benefits, this approach allows you to integrate Android on proprietary hardware or software platforms. Using DuOS can also save development time and money by avoiding the need to port existing Microsoft Windows-based software to the Android environment. In addition, DuOS enables you to add Android to an already-shipping product as an after-market enhancement.
Since its beginning in 2003, Google Android has maintained its focus on mobile computing - especially for smartphones and tablet computers. But as the ease of use of Android phones grabbed users’ imagination, corporate users have not-so-secretly yearned for integration of their most-used and useful Android apps with the ubiquitous Microsoft Windows operating system. DuOS Dual OS Environment from AMI is a solution for adding an Android environment to products incorporating Intel Atom embedded processors. DuOS brings the fun and functionality of Android to embedded systems, adding seamless coexistence to Windows or Linux* on the same hardware. DuOS leverages AMI’s Intel Atom processor expertise to achieve the best user experience combined with the security, performance and extensibility that developers require to make Android a viable value-add for their embedded products.
DuOS cuts across traditional operating systems boundaries by combining Microsoft’s Windows (or Linux) and Google’s Android system together on a single Intel-based platform. Embedded devices are often lumped into a purpose-built category, assuming that only the essential parts of drivers and support are included in the embedded product. But DuOS has been developed to support embedded applications in an enterprise environment. Many of the platforms supported by DuOS are PC platform-based, many of which include versions of Windows that are not embedded-specific. Although enabling embedded apps, DuOS supplies the features that you’d expect in product designed to work with nearly any version of Windows:
- Quick to make ready for deployment – very few customizations required, installs readily on nearly any Windows machine
- Instantaneous hot-key switching between Windows and Android OS environments
- Small memory footprint and low performance impact
- Can run multiple instances of Android
- User interaction for non-touch based interface accessible in Android environment
- Viruses and malware in one environment do not affect the other
- Compatible with Amazon Appstore for Android
AMI achieves this apparently unlikely technology marriage of the enterprise Windows OS with a smartphone Android OS by taking a different tack on making Android operational. Engineers at AMI isolate Windows operation from Android using hypervisor-like functionality. But, unlike some other virtualization approaches, AMI relies on the Windows (or Linux) driver software, codecs, and other hardware control to provide Android-compliant input-output capabilities. While it may not be apparent at the first look, using existing Windows drivers brings a substantial advantage to embedded enterprise-class products. Driver software for enterprise hardware is typically well-tested by the manufacturer and IT professionals alike. Further, years of fielded applications offer the security of billions of hours of operation in well-documented systems. Android and Android-compatible test environments offer developers one way to verify and validate the system, but for systems containing thousands of third-party software and hardware add-ins, there’s little that can compare to actual field experience.
The AMI solution for Windows+Android provides the same degree of security as a native Android system. Of course, Windows retains its own security and safety software measures. In addition, Android applications can not be affected by Windows malware because Android runs in a separate virtualized environment. Android applications also carry their native protection against other errant Android applications. Developers can configure which files or devices can be accessed from Android to both control which devices are available to Android, and to further secure the system. Android retains its “sandbox” facility that can isolate apps from each other.
Android is an ever-evolving environment. The current AMI-supported Froyo v ersikon of Android (V 2.2) has a long track record, with one major update to functionality. The 2.3 version code named Gingerbread:
- refined the user interface,
- improved the soft keyboard and copy/paste features,
- improved gaming performance,
- added Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) support for Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP calls), and
- added support for Near Field Communication.
AMI is working on a new version of Android. The most recent release of Android code named Ice Cream Sandwich, adds:
- facial recognition unlock to improve Android device security,
- network data usage monitoring and control,
- unified social networking contacts,
- photography enhancements,
- offline email searching,
- app folders, and
- information sharing using NFC.
Installing the Froyo Android environment onto a Windows-based system is straightforward using DuOS. There are very few customizations required to configure a DuOS Android environment for a specific hardware platform, but AMI provides tools specifically to accomplish this task. It is likely that AMI will continue the streamlined approach to installation used for the Froyo version for future versions of Android.
AMI’s productization of Windows-Android integration points the way for a rapidly evolving personal computing environment. How will your embedded products use the shift in technology?
*Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft, Google and Android are trademarks of Goolge, DuOS is a trademark of AMI.
- American Megatrends, Inc is an Affiliate member of the Intel Embedded Allianc
- Microsoft Corporation is an Associate member of the Intel Embedded Alliance
Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor)
Intel Embedded Alliance