Firmware & Android

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Firmware & Android

Postby vasdjs » September 28th, 2013, 8:24 am

Although I am familiar with installing and upgrading Windows and Linux on PC, I am new to tablets and android...and it looks like I've a lot to learn. It seems that with tablets you need to install the firmware before you install the OS (rather than the other way round)?
I have updated the firmware on my 51951 (Special edition 8" from the storage options website) and that went OK, but I now just boot to a storage options advertising screen. So, I'm assuming I need to download and install a version of android which suits my tablet. However, I can't find either the version of android to use or instructions on how to do it. Can somebody point me in the right direction?
Many thanks
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Re: Firmware & Android

Postby Trashcooky » September 28th, 2013, 1:57 pm

The Scroll 51951 was released in January 2011 and the basic specifications of tablets are now light years ahead of what they were in 2011.

If you are able to enter recovery mode then you might try a factory reset or try the update again using this file that you will need to put on a micro SD card so your tablet can read it. I don't know how to do this on your particular model so I hope you still have the instruction booklet.

Your thinking about android based on your Windows experience is not quite correct, but I will continue the analogy to hopefully be of some help to you.
As you say, Windows is an operating system which you need to install first of all - before you can install your programs or applications which depend on the operating system to run.

Android is just the same but we refer to it as firmware, I suspect because it also contains the instructions to allow the device hardware to be recognised and therefore function. To be honest, I don't actually know the original reason for this but it makes sense when you consider that a desktop PC usually has all its Basic Input Output System built in, i.e. the BIOS chip, which controls the main-board functions independently of an OS. Things like memory management, USB or PS2 connectivity, CPU settings etc and if you wish to update (flash) your BIOS on a desktop PC the data we flash is called firmware because it is independent of and not reliant on an operating system for its basic functioning.

As an experienced Windows user you will no doubt understand the risks involved in flashing the BIOS of your PC, how important it is to ensure you have the correct fully compatible BIOS update which you need to match your particular hardware.
You also no doubt have heard how easy it is to effectively destroy a PC by getting things wrong and flashing the wrong BIOS image or having a power interruption during the process. In such instances, unless you can physically replace the BIOS chip with a working version - your PC is effectively bricked and useless.

Unfortunately, with your tablet when you get it wrong you haven't got the option of physically replacing a BIOS chip as all the necessary information for the initial communication with an OS is included in the android image (firmware) update - not on a separate BIOS chip. Therefore, if you happen to flash the wrong/incompatible firmware to your tablet you can end up with a permanently bricked device.

The first android powered mobile phone was sold in October 2008 and android has continually developed since this time using Software Development Kits SDK's and the current popular version is 4.2.2 - JellyBean. The development of android, just like Windows OS's are not always backwardly compatible so sometimes there is no benefit in getting the latest assuming it will be the best. You can read a lot about android history and development here

Sometimes the terms SDK and API are incorrectly used when relating to android software development. SDK is the "Software development kit" which has its own versions and updates and the API refers to the "Application Programming Interface"

Version history by API level

The following tables show the release dates and key features of all Android OS updates to date, listed chronologically by their official application programming interface (API) levels.

Android 1.0 (API level 1) 23 September 2008

Android 1.1 (API level 2) 9 February 2009

Android 1.5 Cupcake (API level 3) 27 April 2009

Android 1.6 Donut (API level 4) 15 September 2009

Android 2.0 Eclair (API level 5) 26 October 2009

Android 2.0.1 Eclair (API level 6) 3 December 2009

Android 2.1 Eclair (API level 7) 12 January 2010

Android 2.2–2.2.3 Froyo (API level 8) 20 May 2010

Android 2.3–2.3.2 Gingerbread (API level 9) 6 December 2010

Android 2.3.3–2.3.7 Gingerbread (API level 10) 9 February 2011

Android 3.0 Honeycomb (API level 11) 22 February 2011

Android 3.1 Honeycomb (API level 12) 10 May 2011

Android 3.2 Honeycomb (API level 13) 15 July 2011

Android 4.0–4.0.2 Ice Cream Sandwich (API level 14) 19 October 2011

Android 4.0.3–4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich (API level 15) 16 December 2011 (last version to support Adobe Flash Player)

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (API level 16) 9 July 2012

Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (API level 17) 13 November 2012

Android 4.3 Jelly Bean (API level 18) 24 July 2013

Google released Jelly Bean 4.3 under the slogan "An even sweeter Jelly Bean" on 24 July 2013 during an event in San Francisco called "Breakfast with Sundar Pichai". Most Nexus devices received the update within a week, although the 2nd generation Nexus 7 tablet was the first device to officially ship with it. A minor bugfixing update was released on 22 August 2013.

Your Tablet originally shipped with firmware Android 2.1 Eclair (API level 7) which included a specific set of libraries or code the tablet needed to allow it to function. If you can still communicate with your tablet via USB and a PC then it may be possible to salvage your tablet - but this is something beyond my skills but you may learn how to by reading more.

APIs (application programming interfaces) are the sets of instructions (code words) that instruct an application how to build and run itself. It's an extended "library" of commands added into an existing programming language. An Android API library is a set of Java commands built specifically for Android. A special set of Java commands specific to each API version.

If you learn about ADB Android Debug Bridge (adb) is a versatile command line tool that lets you communicate with a connected Android-powered device so you can issue commands and edit/change the firmware or instruction files. As a Windows user you will realise that this is no easy task. I can only suggest, if you want to learn more then start here

Good luck and be sure to come back and tell us how you get on. :)
If it isn't broken then don't try to fix it!
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Re: Firmware & Android

Postby vasdjs » October 5th, 2013, 10:22 am

Thanks trashcooky,
I might have been looking for the Android OS install files for quite a while!
I am just installing the update you pointed me at as I write.
For other 51951 users, the boot process is not as described in the scroll site. You need to boot holding power and volume up buttons until you get the android + exclamation screen. THEN press the home button, scroll to your update zip file using the volume button to highlight the correct one and the power button to "Enter".
We'll see what comes out the other end when the update is finished.
Thanks again.
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Re: Firmware & Android

Postby vasdjs » October 5th, 2013, 10:25 am

BTW...will an android device tell me what API level it supports/is using?
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Re: Firmware & Android

Postby vasdjs » October 5th, 2013, 10:42 am

Success. Now using Android 2.3.3
Round of applause for trashcooky!
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