How to Check if the Promethean ActivConnect in Your ActivPanel Is Google Certified

Post in News by John Mulvaney on 18th June 2018

In a previous article, we discussed how Promethean is actively putting school networks at risk by encouraging the unlicensed side-loading of the Google Play Store and Google Mobile Services (GMS) on to their ActivConnect Android modules.

What is a Promethean ActivConnect?

A Promethean ActivConnect is Promethean’s computer module that can be added to a Promethean ActivPanel. The ActivConnect G runs the Android operating system, and is available either as an external module or an OPS module that can be inserted into the OPS slot in the back of the ActivPanel. The ActivConnect M is only available as an OPS module and is Windows-based.

The ActivConnect G is not certified to run the Google Play Store and GMS, and Promethean suggests side-loading the Google Play Store onto this module.

How to Check If Your Promethean ActivConnect is Google Certified

To check if the Promethean ActivConnect that is installed with your ActivPanel is Google certified. This is what you should do:

  1. On your Promethean ActivPanel, switch inputs to your ActivConnect module
  2. Open the Google Play app
  3. Select the menu icon
  4. Select “Settings” and scroll down to “Device Certification”
  5. You will see a message indicating either “Certified” or “Uncertified”

This is what it looks like:

The Promethean ActivConnect is not a Google certified device

Why this matters

There are plenty of risks associated with running an uncertified device in your school. We reviewed those in detail in our previous article. The types of devices that are certified to use Google Play and GMS are cell phones, tablets, and smart TVs. There are no large-format interactive displays that are certified. You can review the full list of certified manufacturers here. Promethean is not on the list.

There are several websites that report on the Android OS and Google, and how Google is responding to uncertified manufacturers. In this article from Google 9 to 5, you can read about how Google is going to block access to uncertified devices:

Generally speaking, OEMs comply with Google’s requirements and legitimately pre-load GApps on their devices. However, in some cases (especially with smaller OEMs), they don’t go through the certification process and pre-load GApps anyway. This doesn’t cause much trouble to the end-user, as the apps still work, but it ignores Google’s requirements. In some cases, these companies are even shipping phones without GApps with instructions for the user to sideload them.

Clearly, this is a loophole that needed to be fixed, and it appears Google has done just that, as pointed out by XDA-Developers. Google is doing this by checking the build date of a system image. If the device is uncertified and that build was created after March 16th, 2018, then Google apps won’t work on that device.

A bit further down in the article:

For most Android users, this won’t be a problem as older uncertified devices shouldn’t be affected, but those buying new devices will definitely want to ensure they’re certified.

Google can decide to turn off access to any of their applications on an uncertified device. Promethean will say they are working with Google to resolve this issue, but why take the risk? Why introduce any uncertainty into your school. Teachers rely on their interactive displays and software daily, and any interruption will cause confusion and lost instructional time.

This is not new for Promethean. They are used to causing confusion. Last year they announced the end of ActivInspire, then changed their minds about it when customers pointed out that they weren’t getting the same features with ClassFlow.

If you’re still considering an ActivPanel, ask your Promethean salesperson how they are dealing with this problem.

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