Nabi 2

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It’s been a while.  Life as usual gets in the way.  What I am going to post today is the adventures that I am going through with my son’s Nabi 2.  Back at his last birthday, we got him a Nabi 2.  This an outstanding tablet that is made for kids.  The UI is nice and simple and the company has gone through great efforts to provide good content and a very good job selecting kid safe apps and activities.

What really got my attention as a geek is that under the hood, it is a 7″ Android 4.0 tablet that is using a Tegra3.  Basically, it is a Nexus 7 with a lower resolution screen.  Kid’s by default do not have access to the Android UI.  They are kept in the kid sake mode.  But in the menu is the option to flip back and forth when needed between the kid mode and the mommy/daddy mode which is the full Android.  But from the daddy perspective, there where a few road blocks.

  1. Not a Google services enabled devices.  There are no Google services, including access to the Play Store.  Nabi provides their own app store which is kid safe.  After all, this was supposed to be meant for kids.  But I had an investment already in kid apps for Android and wanted to get them on there.
  2. Storage limitations.  It has 8GB of internal storage and also has a micro SD slot, which I put a 32GB card in for videos that I’ll have in there for the long car trips.  The big problem for me was that it didn’t properly support and ‘SD card’ in the manner that it didn’t support apps2sd.  Everything you downloaded went to the internal storage, including any extra app data.  And when you try and download Asphalt 7 (1.6GB of data), the internal storage was not sufficient.
  3. Many Play Store apps are listing an not compatible.  Not sure what is happening here, but apps like Angry Birds and even Google apps like Maps show as not compatible.  Weird.

So off I went in search of a way to get some of my apps installed onto the Nabi.  Good news is that the Nabi fully supports side loading.  So I didn’t have to do any rooting.  There were a few options like installing alternative app stores like Amazon, but since I do not live in the US, I don’t have access to that.  Then I found this great post for installing using Air Droid.  This worked great.  I didn’t have to root.  All I needed was another Android device to transfer the apps from.

Using Air Droid worked great, but it eventually became a pain since I had to transfer whenever any apps were updated.  So I decided to go the full root and install the Google apps with Play Store.  Took a bit of searching, but I finally found a great post for rooting and installing Gapps that worked perfect. Yes, these instructions are for using Ubuntu Linux, but I am finding that Linux seems to be a great tool for Android hacking.  One warning and gotcha that I ran into is that you really need to have a micro SD card added into your Nabi.  When I first tried to following the instructions, the installation tried to do a backup of the current ROM, but I didn’t have enough space on the internal storage.  But once I got the 32GB SD card and installed it, it worked perfectly.  So how I have problem #1 solved.  Between the Air Droid and now having Play Store access.  He could get the he wants.

But I ran into problem #2 above when I tried to install some larger apps.  Fortunately, I found another post that did some funny mount point manipulation so that app data was saved to the external card.  It’s was simple to do since you only had to install an app and make a few settings.  Later that night I installed Asphalt 7 on the Nabi and all the 1.6GB of extra data was stored on the external card.  One note to mention, that people might complain about, is that the apps are still installed on the internal storage.  I don’t see that as a problem since there is a few GB of space and I’m not going to have that many apps on this tablet.  Problem #2 from above solved.

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Update(Dec. 1,2013): Small update on my usage of the ‘Directory Bind’ application.  It still works great, but my list of directory mappings is now a bit different.  The first thing I did was create a separate directory on the external sdcard.  I don’t like how the post made you put everything on top of each other.  So below is the pattern I have found to be most effective.

Source Target
/mnt/sdcard2/storage/Android/ /sdcard/Android/
/mnt/sdcard2/storage/data/ /sdcard/data/
/mnt/sdcard2/storage/games/ /sdcard/games/
/mnt/sdcard2/storage/onemobile_download/ /sdcard/onemobile_download/

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So that’s how far I am currently.  I haven’t solved problem #3 yet, but that is just a matter of free time.  Just wanted to share what I have gotten done so far.  If someone knows an easy way to fix this last problem, please pass it along.

Update(Dec. 1,2013): For finding the apps I can’t get in the Play Store, I get them from an app called 1Mobile Market.  Not my kids can get Angry Birds.

 

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