HP TouchPad hacking guide: get full access to Google’s Android Market review

Photo of HP TouchPad hacking guide: get full access to Google’s Android Market

Installing Android 2.3 ‘Gingerbread’ on HP’s cut-price TouchPad tablet (reviewed here), alongside the existing webOS platform, gives the device access to far more software than would otherwise be the case – but not everything about Android plays nicely with the device.

In an earlier article, we showed you how to install Cyanogen’s new Android port on to your TouchPad device. Now it’s time to iron out one of the kinks.

Unlike the majority of genuine Android tablets, the TouchPad’s 1024×768 resolution display has an aspect ratio of 4:3 – not a usual native resolution for an Android tablet. As a result, the Android Market filters out applications which it thinks don’t fit the display – leaving you with some big holes in your software collection.

If you’ve got an app on your Android smartphone that you just can’t find on the TouchPad, this is almost certainly the reason why. Thankfully, it’s easy to fix.

Assuming that you’ve already installed Android on your TouchPad – and if you haven’t, head on over to our step-by-step guide to rectify that – unfiltering the Market is the work of mere moments.

Android on HP TouchPad

Download the patch
To prevent the Android Market filtering applications it thinks are unsuitable for the TouchPad’s high resolution screen, certain modifications need to be made.

The easiest way to make these modifications is to download a patch that can be installed via the ClockworkMod Recovery utility that forms part of the CyanogenMod installation process on the TouchPad.

Download this file and place it on the TouchPad’s internal memory by connecting the tablet to your PC via USB. You don’t need to unzip it, and you can do this in either webOS or Android mode – it doesn’t matter – but you’ll find the next step easier if you’re running in Android mode.

If you don’t have Android Market on your TouchPad yet, grap the Gapps package from the CyanogenMod site and copy it to your TouchPad as well. When you come to install the Market patch, install the Gapps file first – this will install Android Market, and then the patch will disable filtering.

Reboot into ClockworkMod Recovery
To install the patch, you’ll need to boot into a special recovery mode dubbed ‘ClockworkMod Recovery’. This is easy to do: in Android, hold down the power button until the menu appears, choose ‘Restart,’ and then choose ‘Recovery.’

If you’re in webOS, turn the tablet off and back on again and choose ‘Recovery’ from the blue boot menu that appears on your screen.

This is a tool you’ll likely get to know well as you use your Android-enabled TouchPad. ClockworkMod Recovery not only allows you to install patches, but also to upgrade the operating system itself without having to connect the TouchPad to your PC.

Install the patch
In ClockworkMod Recovery, use the volume keys to scroll through the list until you’ve highlighted ‘Install ZIP from SD Card’, then press the Home button on the front of the device. Don’t worry that you don’t have an SD Card in the TouchPad – in this case it’s referring to the internal storage you copied the patch to earlier.

On the next menu, select ‘Choose ZIP’ and find the patch file you copied to the TouchPad. When it asks if you’re sure, choose yes – and the patch installs itself in a matter of seconds.

Go back to the main screen, and choose to restart the TouchPad. Allow it to boot into Android – which is the default option if you didn’t make any modifications during the installation process – and load up the Android Market.

You will now find that your TouchPad has full access to all that the Market has to offer – not just the select few applications that are designed for its particular screen resolution. While not all of them work – digital publishing platform Zinio, as an example, crashes after being installed – the majority of them will install and run fine.