The Ainol Novo 7 Basic (here's our review) has an updated build of Ice Cream Sandwich available, but you may want to think twice before flashing it. Funny how drama and issues follow these Chinese sub-100 dollar tablets around, ain't it? Here's the whole scoop.
Our old buddy Dieter Bohn (Hi, D!) put up a short review of this one at his new home The Verge. And I noticed in said review that his model was running a different version of software than mine, so off to Ainol.com I went. What used to be broken links now had a full-blown update file for Ice Cream Sandwich in place (and kudos to Ainol for that one, nice and fast is how we like our updates) with instructions to flash it. You know I had to try this.
Well, the download took a little longer than I had expected, so I spent a few minutes looking for folks who may have already flashed it, and sure enough I found a few -- and they weren't very happy. The folks who updated from Honeycomb (yes, this tablet shipped last year with Honeycomb as well) noticed they no longer had Flash support, and most people were saying that the new update didn't have Google's apps (Gmail, Market, etc.) included.
And here's where things get sticky.
Because the Novo 7 Basic is MIPS-based (that means it uses a different architecture than we're used to) applications compiled for ARM processors won't work -- ever. That's half of the reason the Android Market that is (barely) working in the original version looks so bare. This means that even though the Gmail.apk file would work, we can't just flash Gapps from the usual places, because the needed framework files are built for ARM, and not MIPS. That makes things a bit more difficult.
Of course, since the newer build has sideloading fixed (yay!) and includes a cool-as-hell looking SpiderMan game, I'm bound and determined to sort it all out using framework files from the OS that shipped with this thing, the files from the new update, and Gapps from that secret place you can download Gapps from. In the meantime, you might want to hold off updating yours if you spent the Benjamin on it. I'll be poking around, and of course anything I find will get posted in the forums. Let me be the guinea pig on this one folks.