April 11, 2019 at 1:53 pm #15793Jason SalasParticipant
I was jut wondering if Promethan and Google Play were planning to go into an agreement together so that Google Play would become loaded with the IFP. I am wondering if down the line there will be issues accessing Google Play content if Google changes service agreement and disables their app from working on the IFP. Are there any assurances from Promethean that Google Play will continue to work indefinitely?
April 15, 2019 at 3:14 pm #15818Jarrad PrometheanModerator
Promethean understands that every classroom, teacher, and student is different. One of our goals as a company is to offer as much flexibility as possible with respect to our Promethean ActivPanel products to support personalized teaching and learning. To provide flexibility, Promethean has adopted use of the Android operating system (“Android OS”) to power its ActivPanel devices and peripherals. The Android OS is an open source platform that allows users to modify it to meet their needs if they follow the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) guidelines. The AOSP guidelines are moderated by Google, and the platform is regularly tested and updated by an active and expansive community to safeguard against malicious actors and poorly written code.
Promethean’s current version of ActivPanel® products (as of the date of this statement) run a “modified” Android ROM that is derived from the standard Android stack to operate with Promethean’s hardware and software. To ensure that Promethean’s modified Android OS ROM provides its users with the most up-to-date security features available, Promethean provides regular updates and security patches as these updates are made available by Google.
In the spirit of promoting flexibility and openness for our users, Promethean allows schools to determine to what extent they wish to allow Android application packages (“APKs”) to be loaded on their ActivPanel devices. APKs may be downloaded directly from the Google Play store, from an internet site, from local storage or from any locally connected device (e.g., a computer). Installing an APK onto an Android device (i.e., the Promethean ActivConnect G or OPS) from any location other than the Google Play Store is referred to as “sideloading”.2 Promethean does not currently lock down its software running on its ActivPanel devices and instead allows schools to decide to what extent programs can be downloaded on the panels. As any Android user knows, the Android OS provides users the ability to download applications directly from the Google Play Store and to use Google Services (i.e., Gmail, YouTube, Chrome, etc.) (hereinafter “Google Apps”).
Google does not actually spell this out in any of its policies, however, as we understand it (https://www.android.com/certified/), in order to ship hardware preinstalled with Google Apps, Google requires that the hardware be certified by Google. Google has programs to certify mobile phones, tablets, wearables, TV/set-top boxes, auto/navigation systems, smart speakers, and smart displays. After extensive interaction and discussion with Google, Google has indicated that it is not possible for Promethean to “certify” our ActivPanel under their current certification programs since the ActivPanel does not fall into an available certification category. Therefore, we do not pre-install Google Apps on our ActivPanel. We are not aware of any front-of-class interactive flat panel displays for use in the classroom that are Google certified devices such that it is permitted to be preinstalled with Google Apps including the
Google Play Store.
However, because Promethean’s philosophy is to provide users with the flexibility to use Promethean products to their full extent, we support our user’s ability to use Google Apps on Promethean products if they so choose. To facilitate use of Google Apps, Promethean
provides users with the ability to load a “Google Play” APK that is configured with an installer to work with Promethean’s hardware and software. This ensures that when a user chooses to download and install the Google Play APK on a Promethean ActivPanel product, the user can be sure that he or she is receiving and installing a valid Google Play APK, and that the Google Apps will work properly and provide the user with all of the security measures and functionality that Google makes available through its Google Play Store and Google Apps.
On March 16, 2018 Google started blocking users from completing logins to their Google Apps on specific devices with a firmware build occurring after March 16, 2018. To date, Promethean’s build date on its modified Android OS ROM predates the March 16, 2018 date. As such, Promethean ActivPanel users should not encounter a warning message. Moreover, even if a Promethean user did receive the referenced warning message, the user can easily register their device with Google by following the Google provided “Custom ROM User” instruction (found here: https://www.google.com/android/uncertified/) on how to register a device running a customer ROM since Promethean devices use a custom Android OS ROM.
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- Release Notes for ActivPanel Elements Series v3.3 (released 6 December 2019)
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- Release Notes for ActivConnect OPS-G v2.4.1 (released 6 December 2019)