Some bad news came out of NVIDIA Developer Zone today regarding future Android releases on devices using the Harmony platform. Well, there won’t be any more releases to speak of, which will affect a handful of existing tablets already out in the market today.
Don’t know what Harmony is? Allow us to explain. Devices like the ViewSonic G-Tablet, Notion Ink Adam, Advent Vega, and ViewPad 7 are powered by a version of the Tegra 2 chipset known as the “Harmony” platform. These tablets will unfortunately never see the proper drivers to get Android 3.0 Honeycomb up and running smoothly. Without the correct drivers for these devices, even if a port of Honeycomb were to happen, it would be a very poor experience – hardware acceleration of the UI will make a big difference. We’ve got to agree with Android Central when they say a similar fate will likely affect the existing Galaxy Tab.
NVIDIA is only supporting the Ventana platform for android releases going forward. At the moment we have released Froyo and Gingerbread OS images for Ventana and will release Honeycomb after Google has done so.
Tegra Developer Relations
So what gives, you ask? You can thank Google for this, and their new strategy that requires manufacturers meet certain requirements in order to use the OS. This more strict approach will likely help Google tackle a lot of problems with Android, like fragmentation, and at the end of the day, it’s just how the cookie crumbles. We can’t blame NVIDIA for Google’s rules, but it likely won’t sit too well with the early adopters of Harmony based devices.
Even though I’m an owner of a ViewSonic G-Tablet, I’m not too upset about this announcement. I bought the device solely to hack, with no expectations of any actual quality. Being one of the cheapest tablets you can grab today with dual-core Tegra 2 on board, you really can’t expect that much. And, don’t forget, there are plenty of existing ROMs available for it. CyanogenMod 7 is a solid experience, but I’ll likely be grabbing the T-Mobile G-Slate when it becomes available later this year. Though this isn’t the case for everyone, and we could imagine that many people owning the soon to be unsupported devices may not have such a bright outlook.