Dr. Ketan or How I Learned to Stop Waiting & Flash the ROM

The Lollipop update rollouts bombed. This shouldn’t be news to those of you who have been tracking the progress of many Android devices, but for the most part, Lollipop adoption has been a rollercoaster of broken promises and disappointment for many Android users. This is not to say that many of you didn’t get Lollipop early, however. At XDA we are typically knowledgeable with flashing custom ROMs and, in Lollipop’s case, leaked ROMs – and both of these brought 5.0 to many devices way ahead official rollouts.

I was one of the lucky ones. Shortly after Lollipop, I had both a Nexus 5 and a Note 3. The Nexus 5 also got Lollipop a little later than we had expected, but it was nevertheless one of the first ones in line. As for my Exynos Note 3 (daily driver), I knew that I wouldn’t see Lollipop anytime soon, especially since AOSP ROMs do not have a huge presence on said chipset line. I was pleasantly surprised when I read that there was an early leak of Lollipop for the Note 3 that was stable enough to be used all day, and I proceeded to flash Dr. Ketan’s ROM to stop the wait.

There were more leaks for the Note 3, and eventually it released in Russia with an official and final firmware. Other devices weren’t so lucky, however. We did a Lollipop update roundup back in early February, and back then things didn’t look that bad. Two and a half months later, the Lollipop rollout for major flagships is still not fully done, and the developments have shown that this was probably one of the most hurtful update races for Android. We’ll look at a few particular cases, but first we must ask: why does this update matter so much?

Not Just Materialism

We all wanted Lollipop because it was pretty, but the update was much bigger than that in many respects. The plethora of new APIs (over 5,000) are an integral part of the developing Android experience that we are seeing today and that we’ll see later on, and without these new options a lot of possibilities are closed off to both users and developers. This is not only limited to functionality, however, as Material Design relies on a lot of Lollipop-exclusive software bits to render its beauty. Google did manage to make many Material elements available on older versions, but a lot of menu animations and subtle shadows are completely lost on KitKat and back. The animations on Material apps are also significantly choppier on some KitKat devices, especially those with heavy OEM skins.

Most importantly, though, Lollipop is paving the way for the future of Android in design and functionality yet the terribly slow rollout further increments fragmentation. This has always been an issue in Android, particularly with OEM skins. Now, developers and users are seeing twice as many bridges between the KitKat and Lollipop for AOSP/Stock ROMs and each OEM skin. SD Times ingeniously called this a “pain the app” for developers, and published some of the reason as to why the recent fragmentation can be hurtful for software creators (I strongly suggest reading it as it also contains some neat advice and insight). And if this wasn’t enough, the early versions of Lollipop contain a lot of issues, with bugs such as the infamous memory leak which many OEMs failed to eliminate completely.

The Culprits

It’s been known that factory unlocked devices (or carrier-less, for that matter) are typically the ones to get the updates faster, and many enthusiasts refuse to buy devices from carriers strictly because of this issue. While it is true that carriers usually drop the ball on updates, Lollipop has had many broken promises and missed deadlines from manufacturers themselves. More importantly, a huge issue with the rollout was the absolute lack of consistency within regions, something that led to worldwide frustration as many saw that some regions got the update way ahead of time.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 1.17.29 PMTake the case of Samsung, for example: they are known to have soak tests for major updates, and Poland was a privileged region that got Lollipop for the S5 as early as December. Samsung was one of the few that were implicitly bound to deliver quick Lollipop updates, and the early previews that we had suggested very early releases for the S5 and Note 4. Was this the case? No, at least not for the most part. While Poland got the S5 update really early, many regions didn’t follow until much later. And while the leaks for the Note 3 also came in december, the official rollout also didn’t follow until much later. In both cases, the deployments were extremely limited to certain regions. When it comes to Samsung, they make it even harder for themselves by having several hardware variants with substantially different software for many regions, but even then international variants with the same Snapdragon chipset saw very different update times.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 1.18.42 PMThe Korean Giant was never the fastest with updates, however, while Google’s (and now Lenovo’s) Motorola was. For the most part, Motorola did a good job, even bringing Lollipop to their mid-ranger Moto G before a lot of other OEMs did for their flagships… but only to India and Brazil. The localized update drama hit once again, and while XDA users were quick to flash the firmware on their Moto G’s, the rest of the world was left in angst. Their strongest (but arguably not best) flagship, the Droid Turbo, was left waiting in the blue for a long time until we finally learned that it’d skip straight to 5.1. The fact that they have so many Moto G variants (1st Gen, 2nd Gen, LTE, Forte, Ferrari, etc) also hurt the update rollout to an extent, and thus the fastest and supposedly “most committed” player had Lollipop issues.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 1.20.24 PMHTC was perhaps one of the most disappointing players in the race: they had promised Lollipop for their M8 within 90 days of receiving the source code, but the promise was not met for all of their handsets, as only their developer unlocked versions had gotten the update. The M7 also didn’t see the goal, and most importantly, HTC had stated that the device would stay in an early Lollipop build and not receive 5.1 – meaning that it’ll keep many of the bugs Lollipop brought. Luckily, we recently learned that the M7 might receive 5.1 after all, but this was only due to the massive fan uproar that followed the announcement. The fact that XDA saw the first (unofficial) Sense 7 ROM from Skydragon so early is also a rather mind-boggling.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 1.21.36 PMLG was reportedly on track to being one of the first players to get the update, and we had seen screenshot leaks of their Lollipop builds for the G2 really early on. As for the G3, LG was fast. Faster than Google, even. But, like with Samsung, the rollout was region-limited. While LG G3 users in Poland saw the update as early as November, other users didn’t see the candy goods until much, much later. In fact, it was not until the last week of January that LG teased about American G3 users getting Lollipop, and carrier variants saw an even longer while before they received it (some have gotten it within the past two weeks). So while they caught all sorts of headlines with their early bird release, in the end it was mostly that – a headline grabber, for the region limitations meant that users got even angrier.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 1.23.14 PMSony was perhaps one of the most quiet OEMs about Lollipop, and we really respect that they didn’t overpromise like most others did. In fact, at CES we learned that the update was coming when it was ready as they were taking their time, and the best part about Sony’s humbler approach is that we were told we’d get support for plenty of devices: the Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, Xperia ZR, Xperia Tablet Z, Xperia Z1, Xperia Z1S, Xperia Z Ultra, Xperia Z1 Compact, Xperia Z2, Xperia Z2 Tablet, Xperia Z3, Xperia Z3v, Xperia Z3 Compact, and the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. That’s a lot  of X’s and Z’s. And just a few weeks ago they added the original Xperia Z to that list. This commitment, alongside their development of AOSP branches, make us (and Xzibit) proud.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 1.25.02 PMOnePlus, too, was committed to fast Lollipop updates. In fact, that was a major selling point for many people, and also a key aspect of their “Never Settle” campaign. And like many OnePlus promises, it simply didn’t come true. Granted, a lot of these issues were caused by the Cyanogen team who at that point had developed a kind of grudge with OnePlus. That being said, OnePlus’ OxygenOS was also promised to be delivered at a certain date, and it wasn’t met. Cyanogen’s Lollipop release came the just other day, but not without missing several implied deadlines, and also not without Cyanogen CEO Kirk McMaster telling users to “calm the f**k down” regarding the wait. Yeah, hardly the most cheerful of rollouts.

Nvidia did a surprisingly fast update to their Shield Tablet, and many were in joy… but Nvidia managed to screw it up with an update that messed up the color reproduction of the display. This is not to say they were the only ones – in fact, it seems that virtually all Lollipop releases contain bugs or issues here or there (and some persist post factory resets), sometimes minor (and harmless) but sometimes major ones like those in Verizon’s infamous update pulling drama which was reissued on a few instances.

And then there’s carriers. There’s little to say about this that isn’t known or expected, except for the fact that Verizon and AT&T actually put out updates faster than T-Mobile on many instances. The carrier updates for this major Android version were not only disjointed, but full of bugs. Some of them were delayed to the point of ridicule, like the T-Mobile Note 4 lollipop. The regular Note 4 started seeing the update way after its Note 3 predecessor, which is weird in itself, but while the Note 4’s Lollipop has been rolling out on carriers and variants all over the world for months now, T-Mobile is not delivering and will not deliver for another 3 to 4 weeks.

Android Is Our Profession

So, as you can see, the Lollipop rollout wasn’t as sweet as we hoped it would be. The notes for this article had a lot more information that I wish I could fit in here, but I hope that the editing shows just how almost every player failed in some way or another, and sometimes in downright offensive ways. For an update this big, this is not good for anyone. Software development gets stalled, users can’t enjoy new features, Android gets fragmented further, and people get very angry. While I was somewhat optimistic in February, the fact that we are still seeing Lollipop update news every day for some of the biggest devices in the history of mobile tells us that something is not right. KitKat didn’t have the fastest adoption either (in fact, most updates crawled on certain handsets), but Lollipop’s update drama has gone far and above in many regards.

Now, we obviously can’t wish for perfect rollouts for every player (nor every year), but the fact that Google itself put out such an unfinished OS update in the first place is perhaps what should worry us the most. Lollipop was pretty and functional, but it brought many bugs to the table, and some like the always-discussed memory leak can put tangible (and annoying) consequences into your user experience. Many suspect that OEMs spent so much time developing fixes for these bugs, and it makes sense. Under this light, Lollipop’s rollout is a communal mistake that trickles down to every level of the update process.

With Dr. Ketan’s ROM I experienced Lollipop ahead of time, and it shows a great virtue of XDA: region-limited rollouts mean little if you know how to flash the pulled ROMs or leaks, and even if you have a different variant, you might see a port for your device. I fell in love with Lollipop and the performance bump it offered, but when I had to get a Note 4 I went with a T-Mobile variant to enjoy its feature set as well as full coverage on their network (something which international/exynos variants lack). I also believed in their track record of relatively fast updates (for a carrier). But as previously stated, Lollipop is not coming to that carrier device for a while. As much as I’d love to enjoy the features on it, the ROM for the Canadian Note 4 (same hardware) is compatible with mine and proven to be stable. So I know exactly what I’m going to do now. See you on the sweeter side…

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 1.16.05 PM

“I don’t give a hoot in Hell how you do it, you just get me to the Lollipop, ya hear!”


 Credit to XDA Portal Editor Chris Gilliam for creating the feature image, and to XDA Recognized Contributor dr.ketan for creating a great ROM and having a name apt for a movie reference.

ICS Walkman Port for the 2011 Sony Xperia Lineup

In the past, we brought you news of the ICS Walkman app port to a couple of devices and the Walkman app ported to MDPI Xperia phones running Gingerbread. With the popularity of the Walkman port growing, so too is the number of devices it is ported to. With the Gingerbread port already solidly in place, the next step was porting the music application to Ice Cream Sandwich for the same devices.

The app is available for the Sony Xperia 2011 line running ICS, including the Mini, Mini Pro, Active, and Ray, and was posted by XDA Senior Member Rizal Lovins. The application installation process is rather simple. Download the recovery-flashable update.zip and flash in a custom recovery.

There are a few issues, however. A common problem is the Sound Enhancement forces closes for some, along with a few other bugs. For Sound Enhancement issues, users are instructed to clear data. It has also been suggested by some users to disable xLoud, as it’s known to interfere with the application. Otherwise, users are reporting that it works pretty well.

To learn more, head to the original thread.

Modded Xperia S Music Player Shows Up for Other Xperia Devices

It can be said without exaggeration that the Sony Xperia S has been one of the best Android devices ever when it comes to porting its software to other Android devices. Xperia S ports are simply everywhere, and range from a few applications to, in some cases, full blown ROMs. It seems as though nearly everyone wants a piece of Xperia S software love, and devs have been more than willing to hand it out.

The Xperia S ports to everywhere saga continues as XDA Forum Member Lasan has ported the Sony Xperia S proprietary music player, called MusicXS, to a range of Xperia devices including the Mini, Mini Pro, Active and Ray. The mod, which is a recovery-flashable update.zip, will install the music player along with all the libraries required for it to run properly. Says Lasan:

work fine with SoundEnhancement and Surround Effect. May be ported completed 99%

So not only are you getting the application, but also all the fun little options it comes with. As with Sony XLoud, users will be treated a modified music experience, and since the stock Android music player still doesn’t seem to understand that people want equalizers with their music, it’s definitely worth a shot for music lovers. However, there are some things users need to know before flashing. Says Lasan:

For devices other than WT19 (walkman), remove the default music files in /system/app/SemcMusic.apk with RootExplorer or Titanium Backup
For MIUI and GingerCruzt-XS, Music and all fix include to next update

Be sure that your device meets the requirements before flashing, and of course, make sure you have a Nandroid backup handy just in case.

For additional info, hit up the original thread.

Workaround For Flash’s Low FPS on Asus Transformer

Quite possibly, one of the only annoyances that plagues the Honeycomb stock browser is its inability to properly use its full 30 fps potential on flash videos. At least, this seems to be the case for a few custom roms in certain devices like the Asus Transformer. After doing a bit of looking around, XDA member Roach2010 found something interesting regarding a file that does not get installed after updating Flash Player versions. Discuss, decided to experiment a bit with this file and found that placing it back where it belongs allows the stock browser to play any flash video at 30 fps.

So far, the results seem to be promising, but not a whole lot of people have tested this. The dev has put it in a flashable package, so please drop by the thread, download it, and leave some feedback behind. One last thing, in case you are wondering how to determine if you are indeed running at 30 fps, the dev has added a link to a YouTube video used to determine this.

The problem is that some devices somehow end up with a missing file that the Browser uses to talk to Flash Player. In my case if I clear the Browser data and reinstall the latest version of Flash Player from the market the config file does not get recreated.

You can find more information in the original thread.

Want something published in the Portal? Contact any News Writer.

BBC iPlayer for Android

XDA member ADeadlySpoon let us know about the release of the BBC iPlayer for Android devices. The player will allow streaming of BBC TV and radio content and include many of the features from the desktop version, which include series stacking, live TV, and radio streaming. The player is working on Android 2.2 and up and it´s recommended to be run on a device with a good processor, flash, and 3G -data plan- or WIFI connection to ensure a smooth viewing experience. Get it for free on the market.
Please leave feedback or report any bug found.

Originally posted by ADeadlySpoon
[APP] BBC iPlayer for Android (and iPhone/iPad)


The BBC have released an iPlayer app free on the market, it does exactly as the mobile site for Android does, it streams programs to our phones.

It only works for Android 2.2+ because of the need for flash player.
Try it out!

Continue to the original thread.

myPlayer – Live TV / On Demand streaming updated WM/Android

XDA member FryWalker presents an updated version of myPlayer for Windows Mobile devices, with it you can have access to Live TV and On Demand content directly without using your browser. The new version 2.0 lets you choose your own media player (CorePlayer v1.3.6 is recommended) and includes features like full streaming integration, live TV channels and live international radio stations amongst many others.
Working on WM 6 and up on resolutions QVGA, VGA or WVGA.
The developer also includes a version for Android devices.

Originally posted by FryWalker
> Choose your own media player – define how each stream is played (CorePlayer v1.3.6 is recommended‡)
> Full streaming integration – browse the content as you would from any other supported device
> Live TV channels – watch the popular terrestrial channels live (ITV, Channel 4, Five, etc.)*
> SBS Australia – content from the Special Broadcasting Service**
> Extensive TV feed index – hundreds of live TV feeds from around the globe
> Live Radio stations – a selection of International broadcasts
> Custom TV / Radio stations – add your favourites

* CorePlayer is required to watch the high quality live TV channels (please use this config.xml for the best experience)

** The SBS channel requires a Flash player, the Adobe Flash Lite application is recommended

> A media player that supports RTSP streaming and the mpeg4 codec (CorePlayer v1.3.6 is recommended‡)
> The .NET 2.0 Compact Framework (which is bundled with Windows Mobile Professional 6.0 and above)
> An internet connection that is based within the UK (for the terrestrial TV feeds)

‡ HTC’s bundled StreamingPlayer and Windows Media Player should also work for users with faster devices (for example the HTC HD2)

Continue to the application thread.

MyPlayer Updated To V.88b For UKians

MyPlayer was one of my favorite application back in the days of Hulu support, but even without this, users can still enjoy some BBC shows. The popular Windows Mobile application has now gone Android thanks to XDA member FryWalker, and it still keeps some of the good features we all love, without the bugs we all have grown to hate.

This is a light-weight application that provides access to the BBC iPlayer service directly – eliminating the requirement for a (flash-enabled) mobile browser.
myPlayer is also available on the Windows Mobile platform
** This application requires an Internet connection based within the UK **

> Extensive BBC iPlayer integration
> Fully featured programme search
> High quality downloads for offline viewing?
> Live TV and Radio
> Browse by iPlayer category
> Automatic stream quality (3G or wifi)
> Manual stream quality by preference

The application link can be found in the MyPlayer thread.

BBC iPlayer Updated

If you´ve been following development of BBC iPlayer, this major update will be of your liking. XDA member FryWalker incorporated the option to watch all the latest Soccer highlights from World Cup. The dev also added an option to keep the device awake while downloading. CorePlayer v1.3.6 is recommended as default player.
As in previous versions, QVGA, VGA or WVGA are supported on devices running WM6 and up.
An Android version is available too.

Originally posted by FryWalker
A light-weight application that provides access to BBC iPlayer, Four On Demand, Five On Demand, MSN Video and SBS directly – eliminating the requirement for a (flash-enabled) mobile browser.

Requires a QVGA, VGA or WVGA device running Windows Mobile Professional (Pocket PC) 6.0 or higher
myPlayer is also available on the Android platform


  • Fixed BBC iPlayer live TV streams
  • Added option to keep device awake whilst downloading
  • Fixed a bug relating to stream player preferences
  • All radio content should now be downloaded as mp3
  • TV and radio searches are now segregated.

You can find more information in the application thread.

myPlayer – BBC iPlayer / Hulu / 5OD / MSN / SBS

For those who want to have access to BBC player among others without using flash player, this is a good option to watch videos and content. Member FryWalker presents his updated latest version: 1.280.

Originally posted by FryWalker
A light-weight application that provides access to BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Four On Demand, Five On Demand, MSN Video and SBS directly – eliminating the requirement for a (flash-enabled) mobile browser.

Requires a QVGA, VGA or WVGA device running Windows Mobile Professional (Pocket PC) 6.0 or higher.
> Choose your own media player – define how each stream is played (CorePlayer v1.3.6 is recommended‡)
> Full iPlayer integration – browse the Mobile content as you would from any other supported device (including the search feature)
> Browse BBC iPlayer by category (Comedy, Drama, Entertainment, Films, etc.)
> Download high quality BBC iPlayer episodes to your device for offline viewing
> Hulu – watch a selection of your favourite US shows (Family Guy, Scrubs, etc.)
> Watch all the latest football highlights from around Europe
> Five On Demand – catch up with the latest content from Channel Five
> MSN Video – a further selection of streaming content to watch
> SBS Australia – content from the Special Broadcasting Service*
> Live TV channels – watch the popular terrestrial channels live (BBC1, ESPN, Sky News, etc.)
> Extensive TV feed index – hundreds of live TV feeds from around the globe
> Live Radio stations – a selection of BBC broadcasts
> Custom TV / Radio stations – add your favourites
> Search History – tracks the most recent searches for easy access

* The SBS channel requires a Flash player, the Adobe Flash Lite application is recommended

> A media player that supports RTSP streaming and the mpeg4 codec (CorePlayer v1.3.6 is recommended‡)
> The .NET 2.0 Compact Framework (which is bundled with Windows Mobile Professional 6.0 and above)
> An internet connection that is UK based (or a connection via the myPlayer server)

‡ HTC’s bundled StreamingPlayer and Windows Media Player should also work for users with faster devices (for example the HTC HD2)

*** Whilst streaming video this application will use a considerable amount of bandwidth – please ensure you use it via an unlimited data policy ***

User feedback is always appreciated and should help to improve the usability of future releases.

All of the content streamed via this application is copyright of the BBC, Hulu, Channel Five, MSN and SBS respectively.

Disclaimer: you should only watch the BBC iPlayer content if you are owner of a TV licence within the UK.

Latest version: 1.280

For help regarding installation and use of the application please consult the dedicated myPlayer Support page.

> Added Four on Demand channel to Catch Up view
> GPRS data usage warning is now displayed
> Various other minor bug fixes

Continue to thread

New ROM upgrade WM6.1 21127 v2.0 for Universal

Member thingonaspring made an important upgrade to his WM6.1_21127 v2.0 ROM for Universal

A lot has changed for this version, that’s why it’s jumped a bit to v2.0.

The kitchen’s been rebuilt extensively to support bepe’s platformrebuilder. The new kitchen adds the following handy features :-

– includes a proper XIP kitchen that re-cooks the XIP section on each build, allowing for more flexibility in the rom layout, if you’re into that kind of thing.
– relocation code is much improved, meaning modules are now stripped of useless sections and better allocated to WM6.1’s available virtual memory slots. Smaller, faster, better.
– suports newer “EXT” type kitchen addons, just place them in EXT folder and build.
– can support WM6.5. Which is nice.
– support for XPR compression as well as the Unis default LZX. XPR is a lot quicker to decompress, so it’s especially handy on 64mb machines that swap stuff in and out of pagepool a lot. It doesn’t compress as well as LZX though, that’s why the roms look bigger. XPR compresion was adapted from TPC’s Kaiser kitchen, so props to him.
– when building a rom with the kitchen you will now make 2 choices, memory size and compression type. After that the kitchen builds automatically up to the usual encoding app.

Changes for v2.0 :-
– both 64 and 128 roms use XPR compression – much faster than Uni’s default LZX
– all modular exe/dll/cpl/mui/tfx/plg components have useless sections stripped thanks to bepe’s platformrebuilder. This saves ram, virtual memory and other resources
– mp3dmod and msdmo dlls included to allow support for apps that use them (pocketplayer and google’s youtube app, probably others too).
– AKU bug fixed to make Market work properly (thanks responderman)
– Drivers completely rebuilt. I had no choice, PlatformRebuilder crashed while building the old driverset as most of the modules were pre-stripped. I’ve also made an attempt to fix some audio choppiness in A2DP, but it’s difficult to test as my A2DP headset is very bad at A2DP. Handsfree is definitely working fine.
– Smaller wince.nls used to save ROM+RAM
– Yet more unused files and modules removed.
– Opera Mini 5 added. This version runs native, unlike previous java-based opera minis. It’s a very fast browser with low memory footprint (about 6mb with a single tab).
– yet more memory freed up for 64mb users

64mb versiom has 4.0mb Pagepool. 33 Mb free RAM on clean boot with 200+contacts and appointments synced)
128mb version has pagepooling disabled
Flash Disk enabled
Extended ROM enabled

Removed :-
– Windows Media Player (TCPMP integrated to replace WMP)
– Office OneNote
– Customer Satisfaction (SQM)
– FirmwareUpdate
– Catalog
– Entertainment (games)
– Transcriber
– Getting started
– Bootsplash/welcome images
– MP3 ringtones not supported.
HTC’s ringtone extension takes up a lot of space in ROM and it’s very slow to load. Convert ringtones to wav instead

Included :-
– Opera Mini 5 native WM version
– TCPMP 0.72 recomp3 fully integrated to replace Windows Media. Suports WMA/WMV/FLV/FLAC/OGG/DIVX/MP3……. Uses hybrid plugins from 0.72 and 0.81 for best performance
– PocketNotepad
– PocketRAR
– AdobePDF Reader 2.5
– No2Chem’s USB to PC usb mass storage driver
– No2Chem’s neuPowerCpl replaces backlight settings, power control panel and adds some nice options.
Note that it won’t display advanced usage stats (batt temp etc) as no neuBattery driver exists for uni.
– Dutty’s SDHC driver package (tested with 2/4/8/16gb)
– PimBackup
– JWright’s Network Plugin (mount windows shared drives over wifi/activesync)
– TaskManager 3.1
– TotalCommander 2.5.1
– Windows Live 10.7
– Remote Desktop Client
– Office Mobile
– PNG/GIF graphics optimised for size where possible.

This rom has no bootsplash screens, so you will see a black screen on boot, followed by a white screen.
Tap the white screen to begin using the device on 1st boot.

Drivers, XIP section, registry, pagepool and filesystem have all been optimised for speed and RAM.

Every single EXE, DLL, MUI, CPL and plugin has been made into a module – with the exception of .NET libs (can’t be modular) and one or two specific DLLs/EXEs that will not execute in modular form. Again this saves memory an 64mb machines and speeds up access to executables.

Continue to ROM thread


NVIDIA Launches SHIELD Android TV at Google I/O

Since Android TV was announced at Google I/O 2014, there has been very little activity in the way of hardware releases for the platform. Consumers had a very small selection to choose from in the form of the Nexus Player and Razer Forge TV, or they could buy a new Sony or Phillips television with Android TV on-board. These options, however, seemed a bit tepid at best; the Nexus Player was extremely limited in nature, offering very little storage, weak internals, and low memory. The Forge was a better, more recent release by gaming company Razer, which offered specs closer to that of a modern, higher-end smartphone, and double the storage of the Nexus Player. Today at I/O 2015, a third contender entered the picture, as NVIDIA has announced that the much-anticipated SHIELD console is now available to consumers.

The SHIELD console was originally announced at the 2015 Game Developer’s Conference in March as NVIDIA’s first living room entertainment device, and it immediately turned heads due to the use of the new Tegra X1 T210 SOC. This is NVIDIA’s newest chip, featuring 64-bit ARMv8 CPU architecture in an 8-core big.LITTLE implementation (4x Cortex-A57 cores, 4x Cortex-A53 cores), and a 256-core Maxwell-based GPU from NVIDIA. It is built on a 20 nm process by TSMC, and offers 4K 60fps video capability.

Source: NVIDIA

Source: NVIDIA

NVIDIA’s newest member of the SHIELD family also features 7.1 and 5.1 surround sound and high-resolution audio playback and up-sampling at 24-bit/192 kHz, and also includes 3 GB of RAM, either 16 GB of flash storage or a 500GB hard disk drive (model depending), 2x USB 3.0 ports, microSD storage expansion, HDMI 2.0 for 4K output at 60Hz, Gigabit Ethernet port, 802.11ac WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.1. It comes with the SHIELD controller and an HDMI cable included in the box.

SHIELD Spec Sheet

Source: NVIDIA

In terms of software features, SHIELD will include 4K content from Netflix, YouTube, Pluto TV, and UltraFlix, and you can also view your own personal 4K collection from a GoPro or camcorder. Sling TV and HBO Now are also advertised, in addition to everything else that is currently available on the Android TV platform itself. Gaming is, of course, a big priority for NVIDIA, and the SHIELD is well-represented in this area. In addition to the over 200 games already available on Android TV, 20 SHIELD-specific titles will be released on the platform within a few months of launch. NVIDIA’s GRID game-streaming service, which is capable of streaming popular titles in 1080p/60fps, is also newly available on the SHIELD. NVIDIA has set up a content portal for all things SHIELD related here

The NVIDIA SHIELD console launches to consumers starting today, May 28th, 2015, in two flavors: SHIELD ($199) and SHIELD Pro ($299). The Pro version comes with a 500GB hard drive and a copy of ‘Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel’, which is planned for release on July 1, 2015. Accessories sold separately include a remote control with voice search capabilities and a vertical stand, available for $49.99 and $29.99 respectively. For a limited time, both versions will also include a $30 Google Play gift card, and 90-day access to Google Play Music All Access. You can order SHIELD directly from NVIDIA, Amazon, or Best Buy.

So, what do you think about the SHIELD console? Do you plan on ordering one soon? Or do you feel NVIDIA could have done a better job for the price? Let us know in the comments below!

Nexus & Cookies: A More Focused Direction?

It is that time of the year again, and we are approaching the day where Android fans all over the world gather to watch the livestream of Google’s I/O conference. Among the expected announcements lay wearables, Android Auto, hints at VR and  the Internet of Things and, of course, a new version of Android. An early glimpse of a supposed “Android M” was caught on the official website before being nuked out of existence, and thus the speculation began.


Now we have yet another (code) name for Android M: Macadamia Nut Cookie. This is quite a long name for a final release, and the Android community is already trying to guess the actual and final moniker. Muffin, Milkshake, Marshmallow and the like are common names we’ve seen being suggested, but ultimately we have no clue. Names aside, Android M  (or whatever Android update we get) could bring forth an entirely new change of focus for the platform. Lollipop began a redesign with Material Design, but months later it is still inconsistent. It didn’t have the best adoption process either. With Lollipop not being on even 10% of current handsets, do we need a huge jump so early into its life?


Android M could redeem Google’s failed Lollipop ambitions, and with proper testing and planning, it could actually have a smooth and surprising release. But more importantly, what we are mostly interested about are its new features, functionality and optimizations. More importantly, the new Android version would need to tie in with Android Auto, Android Wear, a possible sequel to Google Glass, a new Internet of Things framework and, of course, new Nexus releases. This last bit is so important to developers and Android purists that we can not wait to see what happens with the new Nexus family members.


Next Nexus


The Google Nexus 6 featured great specifications, an impressive design and a larger-than-life screen. All of this made for a device that was significantly more expensive than the still-amazing Nexus 5, and you could feel the disappointment and frustration surrounding the community the very moment the Nexus 6’s price tag became publicly known. Still, many people loved Google’s new approach, and the fact that the company had made an incursion into the phablet space suggested a new direction for Android – a bigger one (literally) … which didn’t stop people from complaining (in some cases, rightfully so)


The truth is that plenty of people did not want a phablet Nexus – not even if it maintained the affordable philosophy of previous iterations. People wanted – and still want – a Nexus 5 refresh. The Nexus 6 was, regardless, a strategic move for Google. The insignia of Android had finally recognized the phablet, which would in turn allow more OEMs to begin incorporating the format to their suite of devices. It also was in tune with their Wear release, as the smartwatches’ philosophy is all about not taking out your cumbersome phone out of your pocket, and the Nexus 6 is one of the most cumbersome phones there is (behind this).
For a few months now, rumors were talking about two Nexus releases: one by LG, and a more affordable one by a Chinese OEM. Rumors also suggested that the Chinese Nexus would feature a non-Qualcomm processor brand, and while we still don’t know if this (or anything, for that matter) is true, it’d make sense given the early struggles of the Snapdragon 810 which only got worse. We speculated that this next Nexus would be one made by Huawei, given that their HiSilicon chipset division was growing much stronger. The most recent rumors seem to back up the claim that Huawei and LG are in charge of the next Nexus phones, but the details have changed since the original gossip.


The Huawei Nexus is touted to be a 5.7-inch phablet, but it would not sport a HiSilicon Kirin processor as originally thought… instead, the rumors suggest it would go with a Snapdragon 810. Given the endless failed attempts at taming Qualcomm’s flagship, we are not so sure if this bit is true, and we would not be too happy if it was. But other than the Snapdragon 808, there are not many high-end options available. A Kirin processor would make the most sense, given it’s of Huawei’s own making. It’d be rather odd to see a Mediatek processor on a Nexus device given the ideological incompatibilities between both. Samsung’s Exynos will most likely remain covered and guarded for a while longer as well, but Intel’s newest chipsets (the Atom Z3580 in particular) do show quite a bit of promise.


The LG Nexus, however, would keep at a more traditional 5.2-inch screen and feature a Snapdragon 808, which has already proved itself with the LG G4. The other problem we see with these latest rumors are that the first batch implied that Huawei would be making the cheaper Nexus, but given the specifications, sizes and alleged screen resolutions, this sounds a little bizarre – especially when you consider that the Nexus 5 refresh would take upon an affordable phone, while the phablet refresh would not. If LG puts out a much more expensive Nexus 5 and Huawei puts out a much cheaper Nexus 6, we imagine a lot of people would not be happy.


With Huawei going for high-quality devices to try to erase its bad reputation, and expand into more markets this way, it’d be rather inconsistent for them to make a significantly cheaper Nexus (if it means compromising that image). They are focusing on the high-end, particularly in international markets, with devices like the Huawei Watch and more “premium” smartphone experiences with the P8. Given the backlash that the Nexus 6 got for its price, it is also likely would have heard the disappointment and outcries and would aim for an affordable Nexus once again… So we are stuck with the question, which one will be affordable? LG’s? Huawei’s? Both? None? The dual strategy could, however, please both types of Nexus consumers – the ones who wanted a Nexus 5 all along and those who settled for a Nexus 6 and grew to love the new direction. But the prices do matter as well, as seen with the Nexus 6 backlash… and the device did not go on to sell very well, presumably due to both the size and price.

Android M

Google’s new Android M version could in fact come, but even if it doesn’t, the next update has a lot to tackle and live up to. First of all, the actual updating process has been getting flak all over, and players like Microsoft are quick to criticize it. They are right in many aspects, but ultimately Google is not fully responsible for the procedure. We didn’t exactly like it either, but we do not blame Google and Google only for it. The reputation hit falls on them for the most part, though, so it’d make sense that they’d arrange a deal with OEMs and carriers, or optimize the updating process in some other way, so that adoption rates can finally become truly competitive (with other mobile platforms). This could consequently lead to a bigger hold of Android, something that could strengthen rival Cyanogen’s argument against the company. One thing is clear: Google needs to at least attempt to get this version on more devices, and faster at that.

The other issue Lollipop suffered was how unpolished it felt. This was a big disappointment, and the infamous memory leak persisted through several updates. OEMs tried their hand at fixing the issues for their firmware releases, but most non-stock devices are still stuck at 5.0.x and still suffer from one issue or another. Widespread complaints of battery drain increases also did not alleviate the disappointment. What is more shocking is that Google had two Developer Previews to gather feedback. One of the problems was that the process was limited to the Nexus 5. Android M would need a preview, and rumors suggest that it will indeed get one. If it does, we hope that it is not limited to a single phone, and that they figure out a way to make the most out of it as well.


The same rumors talk about a renewed focus on battery and RAM. This is extremely important, particularly after Lollipop’s issues on these fronts. At the XDA Office we constantly discuss how obnoxious it is for us, experienced power users, to have to track down wakelocks or other issues and then fix them manually. Regular users, however, are affected the most by Android’s inconsistencies and/or sudden anomalies. Google Play Services are a common culprit and this past year we’ve seen severe wakelocks that affected some Lollipop ROMs. Location services can be quite a pain for battery conscious users, and it is presumed that Google will attempt to cut check-in counts and reduce off-screen activity in general. A smarter use of memory would also benefit the platform, especially now that we are getting into 4GB RAM territory – which means the memory manager could be eased up and be made a tad less aggressive.


An important part of Android M is the synergy with the Android handsets it’ll get first to: Nexus devices, particularly the new upcoming releases. We expect the next iteration to finally bring multi-window to the table, as the Nexus 6 missed a golden opportunity (given its screen size). The next phablet could finally make good use of a multi-window implementation (hopefully one that is as organic as Samsung’s latest revision). Android M would need a tighter cohesion with the devices’ hardware as well: it was not until Android 5.1 that the Nexus 6 was optimized to use 4 cores intelligently across UI operations, which dramatically sped up the phone in regular usage. The Nexus 6 had less-than-stellar performance on release due to its slow NAND (which was only weighed down further with the default encryption), so the new update should make better use of the hardware of the devices it comes on, off the bat.


Android M will also focus on security – this is a trend that has been growing with Google for the past couple of years. They had partnered with Samsung to bring some of KNOX’s excellence to stock Android, they brought default encryption on the Nexus 6, they have been pushing for factory reset protection on many handsets, and their focus on enterprise with Android for Work and similar projects requires advanced security measures. This focus didn’t stop them from being under fire for the recent factory reset vulnerability, the much-discussed WebView controversy, and even things like Hangouts not featuring end-to-end encryption (which shouldn’t have been a shocker in the first place). We don’t know too much about Android M on these fronts, but it is suggested that Android will support native fingerprint authentication (something which we are rather skeptic about).




Everything we know hints at Google making a comeback with Android M (or whatever update we do get). As the industry moves forward, stakes get bigger and investments need to expand to account for the growing competition. Google did in fact underperform with Lollipop: the adoption process, the early bugs and glitches, the following growing pains, the lack of cohesion in Material Design, the wakelocks from Google Play Services, and more. Some of these in particular left a rather sour taste on many users’ tongues, so it’d make sense that Google would try to tackle these problems head-on.


Moreover, the Nexus line’s alleged revamp could finally make every Nexus purist happy. A 2015 refresh of the Nexus 5 sounds like a dream come true for many Nexus 5 owners (I’d love one myself!), but it is imperative that they get the pricing right. This does not mean it has to be as cheap as the Nexus 5 was back in the day, but considering that high-specification smartphones are also becoming more affordable, Google could reinforce the trend which would ultimately bring Android more users (and thus, bring Google more revenue). We are not too sure what to think about the alleged 810 in the Nexus phablet, and it wouldn’t surprise us if another processor made it in.


The fate of Android M depends on many factors that Google seems to deeply acknowledge. Nexus phones are also a big aspect of the update, although to a lesser extent. We will learn a lot more about the future of Android software at this week’s Google I/O keynote; if we are lucky, perhaps we’ll even get some information about the upcoming Nexus devices. We will be covering the event this Thursday, so stay tuned!


What do you think Google’s direction will be like with Android M and the new Nexus phones? What do you want it to focus on? Sound off below!

XDA Recap: This Week In Android (May 17 – 23)

Another week, another recap. The Sunday tradition marches on this week with a fresh no-nonsense look at big-picture news. Here in the digital XDA writers’ room, we spend our days pouring over an average of 2,500 news items and forum threads every 24 hours. Only the most timely and interesting bits survive the editing process, but the portal’s front page still sees weekly counts in excess of 100 posts. This is a glut of content to absorb, especially if following the news cycle isn’t your full-time job. However, the tech world is vast, and the information must flow. With this in mind, let’s dive into a slimmed-down version of this week’s news that’s the perfect size for easy Sunday afternoon consumption!

Notable Links & Announcements

Voices of XDA

The XDA Developers Forum exists as a thriving hub of conversation, and many insights flow through the threads only to be buried by the sands of time. If you have a topic that is burning a hole in your chest and looking for a new home, we now have a solution – the Voices of XDA. Mathew Brack explains:

If you see something relevant that you feel strongly about, why not analyze it and let the world know? If you have a unique or interesting view on a subject, again, why shouldn’t you share it with the community? We are frequently asked by members looking to start in journalism, “What is it like to be a news writer for xda-developers?” Well, here’s your chance to to step in as a guest writer and find out.

For the complete details and submission form, check out Mat’s feature article, here.

The Future of Smartphone Reviews

While the XDA Portal is already home to many excellent product reviews, we are quietly working on a new breed of data-driven feature with the developer community in mind. This is an ambitious project that we can’t finish alone, so help us craft the smartphone review you want to see. More details can be found on our announcement page for the upcoming Asus Zenfone 2 Smartphone Review.

This Week in XDA TV

XDA covers more than just news, and nowhere is that more apparent than Jordan Keyes’ weekly posts to XDA TV. Here’s the latest round of ROM updates and phone tweaks mixed with a dose of current events; enjoy!

Full annotations for this video can be found in the main XDA TV post from Friday. For more from the TV team, Monday’s recap of last weekend features the touchscreen fix for the OnePlus One (though we have since learned of associated battery drain), Wear 5.1.1’s roll out, and a slew of other news. However, if you’re already two deep into these YouTube videos, you might as well settle in with some popcorn and fire up the complete archive (found here).

For all the news and only the news, read on.


Xposed FrameworkXposed for Lollipop has added yet another high profile module to the “compatible” list: XPrivacy. Version 3.6.10 Beta appears to have resolved the bootloop issue plaguing many users, so head over to GitHub to pick up the latest patch (currently v3.6.13 pre-release beta). As with all in-development software, however, you should give the changelog and forum thread a thorough read before modifying your system.

Users of TouchWiz-based ROMs also have cause to rejoice this week; the unofficial Xposed for Samsung Lollipop is now in working order. Support is limited to deodex’ed ROMs for the moment, and early TWRP testers have reported errors, but the vast majority of modern 32-bit Samsung devices should be ready to go. Again, please read and understand the full forum thread before flashing your phone.

For more Xposed content, TK walks through changing the Battery Saver warning color on Lollipop in his weekly Xposed Tuesday video for XDA TV.

Lollipop Roundup

galaxy-s5-lollipop-verizon-4Android 5.x only accounted for 9.7% of the version number pie two weeks ago, but these have been busy weeks. The latest handsets to see Lollipop include the Xperia Z (5.0.2), Moto G (2013) (5.0.2), NVidia Shield (5.1), and the Nexus lineup: 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, & Player (5.1.1), with the T-Mobile Nexus 6 gaining wifi calling over the air. Sony’s Xperia lineup of more devices than is feasible to list was also shown some love with AOSP binaries for 5.1 Lollipop, available here. In additional Xperia news, Recovery Mode is now available on a range of handsets.

While we’re mentioning devices like the Nexus Player, the game system now has official TWRP recovery and an easy way to upgrade storage using USB OTG.

Notable holdout: Verizon’s Droid Turbo briefly popped up on a developer’s Google+ page running 5.1, but the release is not expected to hit until mid June. The post has since been deleted.

Wear watch owners should be receiving Android 5.1.1 with its wrist gestures (for all) and wifi connectivity (for some) as we speak. If you don’t want to wait for your OTA push, here’s how to cut the queue.

For the absolute latest about version updates to these and all other devices, be sure to subscribe to the general forum thread for your handset – there’s only so much info that will fit in a weekly recap.

New & Upcoming Device Roundup

Every week, dozens of handsets land in different markets around the world. Here is a brief look at the latest phones to make a splash in a new country, as well as the list of which ones we know are coming next.

Out Right Now

Coming Soon

Miscellaneous Announcements

Android Factory Reset Security Flaw

Scientists at Cambridge University recently completed the first comprehensive security analysis of Android’s factory reset feature, and results indicate that not all data is lost. This means that an estimated 500 million Android devices – including phone replacements, Swappa sales, and stolen devices that have been remotely wiped – could be leaking sensitive data. Read up on the issue here, and stay tuned for future updates.


google-hangoutsHangouts for Chrome is now more Material than ever, though the new FAB, thicker action bar, and better padded elements take up a considerable swath of screen real estate. Also on board for the update is an optional single-window version of the client. To activate this new consolidated view, tap the hamburger menu and “disable transparent UI” that is perhaps better known as the floating chat bubbles. Our feelings are mixed about this new layout here at the office, but hopefully it is a harbinger of better usability on Android where action bars and FABs feel more at home.

Xiaomi Mi4i “Fixes” Heating Issue Through Software Update

The claim is there in the title, but we’re holding off on judgement until benchmarks and further analysis have come in. After all, HTC said much the same about the One M9’s Snapdragon 810 chip on numerous occasions, but throttling performance to within an inch of its life is hardly a celebration of what should have been a stand-out piece of tech. As for Xiaomi’s attempt, we wait with a healthy mix of skeptical optimism.

Google Developing New OS for the Internet of Things

We are sure to hear more about this development at Google I/O in less than a week, but the latest rumor suggests Project Brillo is an unannounced Android variant for simplistic and low power IoT gadgets. Everything from thermostats to remote soil sensors are plugging into the internet as we speak, and Google is looking to capitalize on the fragmented market by offering a free OS to any OEM that comes calling. Learn more!

Developers’ Corner

Cyanogen Platform SDK

The Cyanogen Platform will be the new developer-facing SDK and API suite for CyanogenMod going forward, so all theme developers, ROM contributors, and app creators looking to make a mark on the most popular ROM in the XDA Forums should take note. Full details and vision statement are available on the Cyanogen website, here.

GitHub Code Conference

Ticket prices for GitHub’s June developer conference in Nashville go up to $399 tomorrow, so now is the time to sign up if you want to snag your $100 early bird discount. The event will feature hands-on workshops, industry talks, and food from Hattie B’s. Presenters this year include:

Google Webmaster Search Now Displays Indexed App Pages

Google is beefing up the Search Console with tools to track where indexed app content appears in search results, and display a slew of statistics to help you optimize app discovery. Learn more!

Totally Tooling Tips (From Google)

The first episode of Google’s new developer discussion series is live on YouTube, and the party is kicked off with a coffee shop chat about Sublime Text plugins. We can’t say that it’s as zany as the Play Services playlist, but these videos are sure to touch on topics near and dear to developers’ hearts.

Switcheroo Returns To Kickstarter

Switcheroo boardHardware tinkerers can once again back the tiny Switcheroo for $29 on Kickstarter, and gain the ability to control nearly every home appliance imaginable from a connected smartphone. This coin-size control board can start cars, unlock doors, and “upgrade anything with the push of a button” via low energy Bluetooth 4.0. Videos of a few sample applications are available on the Kickstarter page if you’re on the fence about picking one up.


That is it for this week, but we will be back next Sunday for another round of recaps. After all, the news never sleeps, but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your own rest to stay informed!