Usually some of the first devices built from Android source (AOSP) fall to the likes of Nexus devices. Thankfully, developers don’t always play by those rules. Shortly after the source code for Jelly Bean 4.1.1 was released, the Acer Iconia A500 received a very nice alpha build of Jelly Bean. Over the last few days, XDA Developer randomblame and his team have been tweaking and hacking away at their source built beauty and so far have nearly everything working. For some, this early alpha build may even be sufficient as a daily driver (if you’re into a bug or two while running the latest and great version of Android). I don’t know about you, but that describes me.

I’ve been running randomblames AOSP Jelly Bean ROM the past few days on my A500. Now that WiFi and audio are mostly working, I can safely say I’m content using it as my daily driver until my Nexus 7 arrives in a day or two. So, what’s working with the latest release, build #5? As I mentioned, WiFi connects great. The signal indicator in the notification area is broken, but who cares about your signal bars. You know when you’re connect and not connected by opening Internet connection enabled apps. Sound half works, meaning some apps will play sound, but system sounds aren’t working just yet. Bluetooth, storage, USB mounting, battery indicator, rotation, are all working as intended. Google Voice Search will search the web and return card responses. However, they won’t be read them back to you as mentioned above, some sounds aren’t fully functional. As opposed to the first release when almost nothing worked, this is a great step forward.

So what’s completely broken? Sadly, Google Now. You can page through the welcome setup just fine. However, after you tap finish on the last screen of Google Now’s setup, Google Search will start rolling force closing. The only way to resolve this is to clear the Google Search app cache and data. You can then continue using Voice Search. I’m also having trouble installing apps that need to store data on the SD Card. The SD card is accessible via file system explorer applications it seems, however applications that need to store data on /SDCard are failing install. So, if you’re into gaming, a lot of larger games won’t install. I’ve noticed some applications if left open while the lock screen activates, upon unlock, the app or screen will go completely black. I’ve seen this happen with Chrome and Google+. The only way to access the app again is to tap the recents button and swipe it away, then reopen the app. A few times I’ve also had my soft keys disappear. The only way to bring them back was to tap the clock notification area and go into settings or tap an open notification.

As you can see, there are still a nice amount of bugs out there for this ROM. To be honest, that is expected on a ROM labled as “alpha”. Remember, an alpha is a preview of good things to come. If you’re into gaming or can’t deal with the bugs I mentioned above, you may want to hold off for now, while the developers do what they do best, hack away at Android.

If you don’t mind a few bugs, head on over to the official thread on XDA for download links and general ROM information. You’ll need to be on an unlocked ICS Bootloader prior to flashing. GApps are not included with the ROM. You’ll have to flash those separately. The GApps package I used are from Kejar31 and you can download them here. As always, don’t forget to make a nandroid backup prior to flashing any ROM. Good luck!

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