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We've rebuilt Android™ to be a primary operating system for your PC, 2-in-1 or PC Tablet. Over 100 new features built-in already.
We've rebuilt Android™ to be a primary operating system for your PC, 2-in-1 or PC Tablet. Over 100 new features built-in already.
We've rebuilt Android™ to be a primary operating system for your PC, 2-in-1 or PC Tablet. Over 100 new features built-in already.
5,695 backers pledged $78,497 to help bring this project to life.

I/O Eve Update

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Hi everyone, Christopher here. We want to give more regular reports, but at times, we have to hunker down and press on. We'll dip into a few reasons why - and some results, in today's pre-Google I/O update.

First, A Progress Report

As we've shown off over the past week (or two) we have overcome the biggest hurdles to getting Console OS to continue releasing - we're up and running on Lollipop!

60 fps Android easter eggs, and the Google Verified Boot-ready bootloader running on 32-bit firmware.
60 fps Android easter eggs, and the Google Verified Boot-ready bootloader running on 32-bit firmware.
In other words, we're close to shipping releases again. Follow us on Twitter @iConsole (just click the image above) for the absolute latest.
In other words, we're close to shipping releases again. Follow us on Twitter @iConsole (just click the image above) for the absolute latest.
   

To be clear, we have the Android kernel, bootloader, and graphics systems fully working on Lollipop. Our vendor partners have (re) committed to giving us drivers for audio, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS.

That has been a major pain point with Android 5.0 - rest assured, we've been battling this on all fronts.

Vendors Deliver... In 5.1 Steps

As we've mentioned in the past, Android 5.0 hasn't been easy for anyone. It has been a major point of contention for the entire Android building community. My own Moto X, Google's flagship phone for 2013, still is not running Lollipop. It's still at Android 4.4, KitKat. We poured, our hearts, souls, and forsaked tens of thousands worth of salary to make Android 5.0 work.

Unfortunately, vendors did not deliver drivers for 5.0, and are forcing us to step up to Android 5.1 to deliver a working build that you all can use daily. We were informed of this decision from upstream hardware vendors after our last Kickstarter update.

The good news is, over 90% of the patches and adaptations that we tested, engineered, and validated for Android 5.0 on Intel, are already present and have been integrated into Android 5.1 (aka MR1, or Maintenance Release 1).

What's going to make Android 5.1 different? Primarily, vendors are delivering. Just this morning (at 4:36 AM Pacific - long day), we received the first payload of PC-compatible binary drivers for Android 5.1. We're starting work immediately on integrating those.

We know Google I/O is tomorrow. And a new version of Android is likely to be announced there. All public statements from Google have indicated it will be a considerable period of time before any major new version of Android ships. We are holding back any comments until we get the full news - we don't get any early access to those details.

What we can say is that Intel open-sourced the IA kernel for Android 5.1 last week. In the past five days, we've already migrated all our platform work to 5.1. And, we've already integrated and sent along the two or three show-stopping bugs that we now have to plow through. Please keep in mind that it may take weeks for us to fully adapt and integrate Android 5.1 - drivers and bootloader bugs have appeared that we have to squash, particularly on UEFI32. But, we got it working on Android 5.0, we're confidence we can release on 5.1.

If there was a single vendor shrugging us off, not cooperating, we'd let you all loose on them. Unfortunately, the downside to this way-too-drawn-out process is that we can't gripe and complain much in-between.

We haven't been able to grow as a company because of these perpetual delays upstream. But, as long as we're making progress, we just have to keep our heads down and keep working.

And, for what it's worth, Motorola had to skip Android 5.0 entirely too for most of its devices... and we're attempting things with Android that the big manufacturers don't even try. We may not beat Motorola to Android 5.1 on their full fleet of ARM, but we're at least holding our own with groundbreaking work on the x86 side.

An Update on Open Sourcing Console OS

We think we have the path for open-sourcing Console OS pretty well mapped out. Our driver vendor partners have been very open and cooperative with this process. No startup has ever tried to get Android up and running on a PC natively...

So while it has been slow... and frankly, painful... we have gotten more access and support than any past effort ever has. We can't thank enough all the chipset and hardware vendors out there for working with us, and keeping all this going. And, we can now provide our roadmap for open-sourcing Console OS, so that the community can build and help us grow.

Open-sourcing Console OS will come in three phases:

  • First, the kernel and bootloader will go up. This will include device-specific mappings and adaptations (device targets) for all the Intel Atom devices we have built out.
  • Next, and alongside this, we're going to revamp and relaunch our Forums and Wiki with a new emphasis on supporting developers and contributors, alongside users - in separate sections of each respective site. More importantly, we promise to put significant amounts of your Kickstarter dollars back into the community to encourage developers to contribute. Details of where this money will be allocated will become clear soon, but we are admirers of the Google Summer of Code technique of rewarding dedicated developers with targeted goals and code sprints.
  • Finally, after we take in feedback from our developers and partners, we will offer a closed source overlay. This will start to overlay any private code that we can't open-source or is internal to Console development. For AOSP builders out there, this will work very similar to the Nexus Device Binaries that you find from Google.

So, When?

We know that's the sticking point, and as we mentioned above, integrating and adapting MR1 will take a few weeks. That 10% we mentioned earlier is the tough part. We're optimistic June will be the month that this all comes together.

One thing we can confirm about timetables more definitively, we are staging Console OS with Android 5.1-based release code to be open-sourced jointly with posted downloads. Not just the kernel, but enough to get Android to come to life on dozens of new devices.

Finally, as you can imagine, no startup can live on $78,000 indefinitely. We've stuck to our word and not taken in a dime until Lollipop is out the door.

And, we feel we owe you backers more than we can push out... despite challenges from upstream we had no way of anticipating (like, having to rewrite our installation process from scratch because of a new Android release, that didn't exist until after our Kickstarter ended).


At the same time, we've always said we want Console OS Standard to be free. We've certainly had time to think on this one.

As a result, when Console OS releases resume, the source code will be free (of course), but our compiled builds of Console OS Standard will cost $10 USD. We expect they will be available both on flash drive, as well as via direct device install.

Of course, all Kickstarter backers will continue to get Console OS free for life. Nothing has changed there. And people will be able to build Console OS Standard and use it themselves for free, too.

But, only builds shipped (and sold) by Console will be able to take advantage of things like automatic updates from our servers, as well as our rigorous testing and optional code-signed bootloaders for added security through UEFI Secure Boot.

We hope this strikes a solid balance. We've gotten too many emails to count asking how people can support. Now, you can choose - you can contribute to the open-source community and build Console OS Standard for free, or you'll be able to purchase a secure and tested distribution with updates signed by our team.

Finally, thanks for hanging in there with us. We've poured our hearts and souls into keeping this going, despite several technical 2x4's to the head after our Kickstarter ended. Once people start using Console OS with Android in the real world - we can start leveraging your voice to help push the Android performance ceiling onward and upward... which has been our unphased goal since the beginning.

- Christopher Price, Founder

The Latest on Console Development

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Back from MWC

First, we want to thank everyone at Intel for letting us get such a large stage to introduce iConsole micro. Bringing the full Android TV platform to a device so small isn’t going to be easy, but we’re up for the challenge. We'll be sharing most of stash of unposed photos and videos over the next week, on social media.

Missing Socket Wrenches

Let's the the bad news out of the way first. We’re still waiting on the full tool chest from Intel to build for Android on Intel chips. We thought we had received it last month, but we discovered major tools missing from our payload, right before departing for Mobile World Congress.

Being the first startup to do anything means taking arrows. We’ve taken more than our fair share. 

Keep in mind, no Intel device in the United States has Android 5.0 in production today. We’ve been making progress in the mean time pushing Console OS DR1, proving there’s demand for Android as a primary OS, that scales on up to Intel Core processors.

These tools just started to ship platform developers, and we’re coordinating with Intel to get what’s missing from our latest delivery. We hope to receive the remaining tools needed later this week. A good chunk of the Intel team is attending the Android Builder’s Summit, so that may slip into next week.

Part of the problem is something that we've had trouble explaining because of NDAs. In late 2014, Intel announced the Reference Design for Android program. As part of that realignment, all the tools to build Android devices on Lollipop, were restructured.

This restructuring grouped tools (and licensing) based on if you were building a reference design (like a standard Intel Atom tablet), or if you were doing something that required even more advanced tools (like, building iConsole micro). We fall into the latter category, obviously.

So, even if we had a tool chest to build with KitKat… we had to start all over requesting the same tools for Lollipop. Some of those tools became owned by different people, different teams... the path for startups on all that is really starting to come into focus, well, right now. In a toolchest analogy, we're missing a few key socket wrenches to adapt the kernel for unique hardware.

Add to that Android 5.0’s painful release cycle (on both ARM and x86) and you can how this can become painful for the first startup building Android innovations (like iConsole micro and Console OS) can pile up.

We are confident we're doing the right stuff, and moving the ball forward as fast as we can. If anything gets in the way, or we need your help, we’ll let you know. It's not time to put The Stig in a tank just yet. You're getting as fast a development update as we can share on this.

Nobody is getting rich here waiting for these tools, so rest assured, we’re working hard (without pay) to make this happen.

And yes, as soon as we get these missing bits of code, we should be able to begin building for devices with 32-bit firmware. Intel is providing the same technical assistance they would give to every other platform builder, and that includes training us on tools we're still waiting to be delivered.

Keeping on Track

In order to meet our original timetable to start open-sourcing major components of Console OS, we have to get the remaining "socket wrenches" that we need. So, we're giving everyone a head's up that we may have to bump that goal back by a few weeks.

While that process continues to play out, we will continue with our work to develop Pro features, implementing Console OS Pro as planned after we get to Lollipop. And, we’ll also work on getting some of those more ancillary/straggler perks out the door that haven’t shipped out yet.

Security Focus

You may have heard news about Google changing the security posture for Android 5.0. As you may have heard, a big change in Lollipop is that every Android device must now be encrypted - even on the very first boot.

What Google did late last month, was make encryption optional once again in Android. That means that platform builders (people like us) don’t have to automatically encrypt your Android install from the factory.

There are reasons why you might not want to encrypt. One big reason is performance. We're working hard to performance test (since, well, we have the time on our hands...), and we've only found a few devices that actually need encryption disabled. Most of these have very cheap eMMC storage platforms that just weren't built to handle the rigors of full disk encryption. We plan to offer builds that both encrypt by default (pursuant to AOSP recommendations). And, we'll also offer builds for devices that do not encrypt by default.

Keep in mind that even if we don’t enable encryption by default, that you can still turn it on manually inside Settings -> Security. There is no difference otherwise in the encryption protocol.

New Unreal Engine 4 Technology Demos for Backers

Finally, we know waiting for Lollipop is not fun. As we mentioned above, we’re doing everything we can on that front.

In the mean time, we’ve whipped up some great new tech demos optimized for Console OS DR1. And, we’re making them available initially just for Kickstarter backers.

If you're a Kickstarter backer, to download them, log in to account.consoleos.com and enjoy. To show you the potential of Console OS, we’ve also published ARM versions of the same tech demos, so you can install on your typical Android device with an ARM processor to compare to.

We'll be monitoring the performance of these early-access releases, and eventually share them with everyone in the coming weeks.

Introducing iConsole micro & Our New Company Name

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Hello everyone,

We're live at Mobile World Congress, and we've got news to share.

Introducing iConsole™ micro - The first Android™ stick that matters.

At the show today, we took the wraps off iConsole micro. And, we've reopened iConsole.tv to start to promote it.

What is iConsole micro? It's our first consumer hardware, and it's incredibly small. It's the first Android "stick" that doesn't trade performance for size. Powered by a quad-core Intel® Atom™ processor, it will deliver the full range of Android-on-PC and Android-on-TV functionality, with the same performance that you've come to expect from PCs several times its size.

iConsole micro
iConsole micro

We'll have more to share on iConsole micro later this month, including tech specs, price-points, and a full announcement. You can learn more at both iConsole.tv and on our new, unified company blog.

Also @ MWC

Not only are we introducing iConsole micro, but we're also giving live demonstrations of Console OS with Android™ rocking on Intel Core 2-in-1's... showcasing OpenGL ES 3 demos powered by Unreal Engine 4.

Our Mobile World Congress booth space for 2015!
Our Mobile World Congress booth space for 2015!

And, finally, for the first time, we're also live demonstrating Android 5.0 Lollipop builds of Console OS, running on a Minnowboard MAX. While still early, it shows we're alive and well on Lollipop, and we hope to ship these new builds later this month.

Our new builds of Lollipop are such an advancement, we've taken down our Lollipop Technical Preview to backers - our team is closing in on the stability we've been fighting for. Once our team is back from MWC, we'll be working non-stop to start finishing, polishing, and most importantly, shipping new Lollipop-based builds exclusively to Kickstarter backers.

Opening DR1 to All

We need your help. We need to show that people want to run Android natively on their 2-in-1. So, we've made it easy to share Console OS with your more novice friends.

Please tell your friends, favorite blogs, and social media spheres to go to ConsoleOS.com - sign up, and download. Remember, signing up and downloading directly from ConsoleOS.com is key - it helps us show the pent-up demand for Android on the PC. Uploading copies of Console OS to file sharing sites, not so much (so please don't do that).

We've done a few things to help make sharing Console OS with your friends a bit easier.

First, we've repackaged DR1 in an easier-to-install bundle. We've updated some of the bundled apps too. However, we don't recommend you reinstall DR1 if you already have it.

Second, we've revamped the Console OS Wiki to make it more novice-friendly.

Third, we've updated the entire workflow of downloading and accessing Console OS to clearly define where it works well, and give you the resources to keep it running great too. Just tell people to ConsoleOS.com and you can sign up and download in just a couple minutes!

Finally, we want to thank everyone who has already signed up and started using the Console OS Forums. They're off to a great start. We've seen some great tips, tricks, and solutions... a few of which we didn't even know about!

As we mentioned, backers will continue to get exclusive first access to Lollipop builds soon after we return from MWC and do a bit more validation and testing. Once we stabilize Lollipop across our target devices, we'll resume adding Pro features... as the vast majority of backers voted for us to do.

Say Hello to Console, Inc.

This week, we submitted paperwork with the state of California to begin changing our name from Mobile Media Ventures, Inc to something... a bit more fitting. This isn't going to happen in a day, so please bear with us.

We like the name Console, Inc. and we've decided to adopt it. It really symbolizes what we're working hard on every day - both Console OS and iConsole™ hardware.

We have set up a great new corporate homepage that will guide us through this transition, Console.com.co

Please note that we're the same team, same company, same corporation... we're just gearing up to change our name to something a lot better.

Why Lollipop is Such a Pain to Get Working (And, our rollout this week)

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Hello everyone, this is a busy week for us.

We’re going to be rolling out a lot of stuff… including our first Lollipop builds to backers. They’re being uploaded right now, and will be available over the next day or two. Another Kickstarter update will follow. Unlike KitKat, which we are also expanding access to this week, these will be backer-only for now.

We want to set the expectations right, so please note that these initial Lollipop builds are purely a technology preview, and not ready for general use. Device support will expand over the next month – so don’t be disappointed as we focused support on only a couple of configurations… we’re hoping to ship many more this month.

Why release a preview build? So you can see that we are moving forward with Lollipop.

While we are improving our Lollipop builds, we are going to continue to push and promote KitKat, Android on Core processors, and Android for 2-in-1's... while also refreshing our Wiki support documents with additional tips, tricks, and workarounds.

While we are improving our Lollipop builds, we are going to continue to push and promote KitKat, while also refreshing our Wiki support documents with additional tips, tricks, and workarounds. Our forums and the KitKat public rollout will arrive this week.

Many are asking why Lollipop has been such a pain. This is not a startup or Kickstarter-level-funding issue… it’s affecting every Android platform developer; giant and tiny.

The Technical Details

Both HTC and Motorola Mobility have recently come out saying the same thing - getting Lollipop to work has been much tougher than expected. No Intel-based Android device - other than Google’s own Nexus Player - is running Lollipop just yet. It’s no surprise then that over 99% of Android users (on the ARM or x86 sides of the aisle) are still running KitKat (or earlier).

At the same time, to grow Console OS, we have to push forward with Lollipop. In the future, supporting and sustaining KitKat would mean investing in code that Android/AOSP no longer supports. We’ve realized that it would be a losing game.

Just a mere two weeks ago, we were finally able to get access to all the private drivers and bits of code needed to support the same Intel Atom devices that we had targeted with our original release plans, now with Lollipop-capable drivers. We couldn’t affirm that we had the code… until we had it.

What we’ve found over the past six weeks (including, in particular, the last two weeks), is that Lollipop rewrites a lot of the fundamental code that gets Android up and running. That is why everyone is struggling with it.

Specifically, the AOSP 5.0 kernel lacks formal support for Intel Core processors, and the UEFI fastboot stack knocks down most of our existing bootloader support. Now that we have all the right tools, we can work on tackling these upstream issues.

On the bright side, Google & Co made these platform-level decisions so that major components would not have the rug pulled out from under them down the road. For example, UEFI devices on Android will now act identically to other Android devices - enabling us to push out firmware updates over-the-air with ease. But it will take time for us to rebuild the entire Console OS platform.

Two Big Things Coming Soon

Making good use of our time, behind the scenes, what we've been doing is building one reference platform that we can then branch out and support a broad range of devices.

We will be introducing that new reference device at Mobile World Congress, at Intel’s booth. We can’t share more on that topic just yet, obviously… so hang in there until the first week in March. It will show we haven’t been idle all this time, despite a laggard access to the bits of code we needed.

Opening Up Console OS

Finally, while Lollipop is quite painful, it has opened the door to us taking Console OS open source. The same changes that make Lollipop such a technical challenge, also give us the potential to finally open up Console OS.

We realize there are other Android on x86 solutions out there that are open source. There really are two - One that is not meant for end-users, and the other we have lost confidence in delivering commercial success. We think Console OS can deliver a new balance in this equation, and we look forward to taking it open source over the next few months. We can't do it just yet, but we are working hard on it.

We promise that when we do, we will put your Kickstarter money to work encouraging open-source developers to contribute improvements. Improvements that everyone in the Android world will benefit from.

While Lollipop has been a swift kick in the rear in terms of our development timetable, it has opened the door to us doing what we’ve wanted to do - make it so that anyone can build, and more importantly, contribute, to Console OS. And that is going to be our mandate for the first half of this year. In the mean time, we are going to open up Console OS DR1 with KitKat to everyone for free download, starting over the next week.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays, Backers

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