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optimus sandwichFor all those Android lovers on the edges of their seats, AsusEee Pad Transformer Prime tablet will officially run Google’s Android Ice Cream Sandwich operating system on January 12.

The company announced today that it will be issuing a firmware update to all its Transformer Prime owners worldwide. The update will be completed over the air. The tablet was rumored to be the first mainstream tablet to run on Google’s latest operating system, which was released in October 2011. Ice Cream Sandwich is Google’s first operating system created to work on both smartphones and tablets. The Transformer Prime was released in December 2011 but ran Honeycomb as opposed to Ice Cream Sandwich. Adding to the anticipation, the tablet is also outfitted with the first quadcore processor built for mobile devices, the Nvidia’s Tegra 3.

The Transformer Prime was, however, beaten to the Ice Cream Sandwich punch by MIPS Technologies and Ingenic Semiconductor, which created a $99 tablet running the operating system.

In today’s announcement, Asus also addressed its bootloader lock down and plans for an unlocking system. In simple terms, a bootloader tells the phone to upload the installed firmware. This is an element of the starting up process that people play with when modifying their devices to run custom operating systems or other activities. Asus decided, like many device manufacturers, to lock the bootloader, preventing anyone from accessing or tampering with it. This is because Asus provides a movie rental system on the Transformer Prime using Google DRM, or digital rights management, which says that devices must be “as secure as possible” for the comfort of content providers.

“However, we know there is demand in the modding community to have an unlocked bootloader,” the company said in the statement. “Therefore, ASUS is developing an unlock tool for that community.”

The release date of the tool is unknown at this point, though Asus does warn that those who unlock their devices will have their warranties nullified. They will also no longer have access to Google’s movie rental service because of the broken DRM rules.

The FOTA, or firmware over the air, update will also include improvements to the tablet’s camera, touch experience and APK performance, which assists in the application downloading process to Android operating systems.

Image by Jolie O’Dell

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