Android TV Unofficially Ported to Pine A64

There are many small, cheap computers that one can purchase which come with some flavor of Linux. The Raspberry Pi has Raspian, the Intel Edison has Yocto, the C.H.I.P has its own Linux variant, and there are even more devices in that space. A new one, which was recently just funded on Kickstarter is the Pine A64. For just $15 you can get one of these devices, which has 2 USB ports, 4K HDMI output, ethernet, and compatibility with many smart home technologies. It is being targeted as superior to the Raspberry Pi in specs and price.

Pine A64 v Raspberry Pi

What operating systems can it run? Well you have a number of compatible options. There’s Windows IoT, Ubuntu, and Android 5.1 Lollipop. However, it’s being sold as an open platform. This led an individual by the name of Ayufan to publish a version of Android 7.0 Nougat that runs on the Pine A64. Moreover, they published a version of Android TV which can be run on the Pine A64. Someone has taken a video of it and published it on YouTube.

The releases for the Android OS image are published on GitHub, although the repository itself is mostly empty.

This is an unofficial project, not endorsed by either Google or Pine A64. There are a number of things which aren’t working.

What does work?

– Graphics
– Ethernet
– WIFI
– Sound
– HW video acceleration (had to fix a lot of issues…)
– CPU/GPU frequency and cores scaling,
– LCD (configure uEnv.txt)
– Bluetooth (I did rebase and fix Allwinner sources from Android 6.0),

What does not?

– Camera – don’t have one yet, but mikey0000 is working on that: http://forum.pine64.org/showthread.php?tid=2228,
– Touchscreen – don’t have one yet (but it may work now),
– Youtube fails to use HW acceleration, thus locking playing of video to 360/480p,
– No support for DRM: https://support.google.com/widevine/answer/6072714 (L1 or at least L3),

Unfortunately there is not support for DRM or hardware acceleration on media playback. In the video above, the narrator states that Netflix does not work. However, they were able to watch Live Channels from their HDHomeRun.

Camera support should be coming soon thanks to the contributions of another user. It is tested and works with a Logitech webcam, although no other camera has been tested yet.

Earlier, Android TV was ported to the Raspberry Pi, making it technically the cheapest Android TV. Now that has been upended by this device, which is only $15 for the base model. While there are definitely a handful of downsides, the fact that it seems to run really smoothly is a testament to the quality of Android TV and the makers of the Pine A64.

Nick Felker

Nick Felker

Nick Felker is a student Electrical & Computer Engineering student at Rowan University (C/O 2017) and the student IEEE webmaster. When he's not studying, he is a software developer for the web and Android (Felker Tech). He has several open source projects on GitHub (http://github.com/fleker)Devices: Moto G-2013 Moto G-2015, Moto 360, Google ADT-1, Nexus 7-2013 (x2), Lenovo Laptop, Custom Desktop.Although he was an intern at Google, the content of this blog is entirely independent and his own thoughts.

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