NVIDIA SHIELD open source software release calls out walled garden competition

As spoken of early on in the initial announcements of NVIDIA's gaming handheld SHIELD, the company has made good on their promise to allow full software modification and hacking with the release of open source downloads this week. What this actually means is that NVIDIA is making it rather easy for the development community as well as the hacker community (which to be fair, for Android, are often one in the same) to do their thing.

NVIDIA's release this week works through their "Develop for SHIELD" program. There's a portal which extends the invitation made to the app and game development community over the past few years with Tegra mobile processors to SHIELD specifically. As this is NVIDIA's first mobile device as such, they're going all-in with developer outreach.

"Most gaming devices are black boxes. You use the games and apps the device's manufacturer approves. No tinkering. End of story.

That's not where we wanted to go with SHIELD." – Andrew Edelsten for NVIDIA

This effectively mirrors what was made clear earlier this year immediately following the initial announcement of NVIDIA SHIELD at CES 2013. There it was NVIDIA senior vice president of content and technology Tony Tamasi that spoke up.

"We want to help game developers keep you happily entertained with the magic that they dream up. We're not looking to create a walled garden of software, even if it sprouts some gorgeous games." – NVIDIA senior vice president of content and technology Tony Tamasi

NOTE: Make sure to have a peek at SlashGear's full review of NVIDIA SHIELD.

There developers – and the rest of the world, as this is all public – will find SHIELD Open Source and Binary Driver Release files available straight from the source starting today. Included are both the latest software release for SHIELD (already sent OTA, over-the-air, for SHIELD owners) as well as a preinstalled factory OS image for the device.

"But if you're not content with what SHIELD can do out of the box, we invite you to build out SHIELD's capabilities in any way you wish. To be sure, this is double-diamond stuff." – Andrew Edelsten for NVIDIA

In other words, though hacking and modifying software inside an Android device can very easily turn nasty, NVIDIA has also provided a bit of a safety net with a basic binary recover image so users can restore their SHIELD device back to stock software if need be.

ABOVE: NVIDIA SHIELD connected with the Nyko PlayPad Pro as demonstrated at the 2013 edition of E3, just before the consumer release of the device itself.

It should also be made clear that, as with the vast majority of warrantee policies on Android computing devices out there in the wild, NVIDIA SHIELD will be rejected as a return if it has been rooted and/or it has had its bootloader unlocked.

"Our goal here isn't to discourage people from rooting their devices – it's yours, after all – but to give us a course of action if folks start to abuse the hardware through software modifications." – Andrew Edelsten for NVIDIA

Sound like the wild hacker action you're after? Let us know what you're up to, and stick around SlashGear as we continue explore the possibilities with NVIDIA SHIELD in the very near future!