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How to load Google Play onto the Hipstreet Equinox 2

Since my review of the Hipstreet Equinox 2, I've had a lot of questions about how I was able to install Google Play onto the device (which then makes loading tons of other first-tier apps, like Netflix, Google Maps, etc. onto the device quite easy).

Like many of the cheapest Android devices, the Equinox 2 did not go through Google's validation process and therefore is not allowed to be preinstalled on the device. Presumably this accounts for part of why these devices are cheap. Instead it ships with GetJar, which although it gives you access to thousands of apps, does not let you get the most popular ones.

Some apps can be downloaded directly from the publisher, others can be found by searching for torrents, and many are available on Usenet. These can then be sideloaded onto the device using one of many different methods. The problem is that you may be downloading a virus, or accidentally be pirating a commercial app.

The device is already rooted when you get it so you would think you might be able to sideload Play onto the device. Indeed, there are many places you can download all the various versions of Play (or Android Store or whatever it was called) and you can sideload them onto the device. The bad news is that it always crashes. If you are lucky it will get as far as showing its splash screen.

The process I used to sideload the app involves a few steps. If you are not technically inclined, this method isn't for you.

  1. Install the Android SDK on your computer.
  2. Download the Google apps bundle.
  3. Copy files to the filesystem.

Install the Android SDK on your computer

The Android SDK (also known as the Android Developer Tools or ADT bundle) includes everything needed to develop apps for Android devices, and deploy them onto a device. It's the latter part that is important. It is available here for PC, Linux, and Mac

When you plug in your device into your PC, hopefully it will install two drivers. The first is the mass storage driver, which lets your computer use the device like a USB memory stick. The second driver is called Android Device Bridge (ADB). For us, this is the important one.

On a Mac a driver is not required. On a PC it is. Unfortunately Hipstreet/Kobian does not publish an ADB driver for the device, so your Windows Device Manager will probably indicate an unrecognized device. I modified the Google driver to work with this device and you can download from this article.

Once the SDK is installed and the driver is working, you'll need to find the directory where the SDK was installed to find the platform-tools directory.

On my PC this is located not in Program Files, but your user directory, e.g. C:UsersYvanAppDataLocalAndroidandroid-sdkplatform-tools.

On the Mac it depends where you unpack it.

Now familiarize yourself with the adb tool.

Download the Google apps bundle

Although it is free software, I'm not what the rules are about redistribution so you're on your own to find this. The one I used is called gapps-ics-20120429-signed (Google Apps for Ice Cream Sandwich). It includes pretty much all the Google stuff that would normally preload on a device, about 25 programs.

Copy files to the filesystem

Use the adb tool to copy files to the appropriate directories on the device. You need to use this tool, because these system directories are not accessible from the GUI, even on a rooted device. If you find an app that lets you copy files to the system directories, you can skip step 1 and use that tool.

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