Consolidated GApps Central
Following the retirement of Paranoid Android GApps Provider TKruzze and subsequent deletion of GApps from his BasketBuild account, Senior Member TheXGX stepped in to fill the void left behind. In his new consolidated thread you can find most of the available GApps packages from around XDA including PA Gapps.
Make Your Own Gapps Package with Ease
Much of what users commonly refer to as “Android” isn’t actually a part of the OS itself, but rather first-party Google applications that have become integral to Android’s functionality or look and feel. This includes apps like Gmail and the Google Play Store. And for most people, it’s optimal to use these first party Google applications. But if you’re running a rooted device with a source-built custom ROM, chances are that you need to download a separate Gapps package.
Various Gapps packages are already available, as some big projects like AOSPA have released their own versions. But even with so many variants available, not everyone is able to find a package that has every app they need without apps they don’t want. Because of this, XDA Forum Member wilmsn created a Windows batch script that does the trick for you and removes or adds all the necessary files from the archive. The script simply unpacks your existing package, deletes files, compresses them, and signs the archive. You then end up with a separate package that’s ready to flash. If you want to preserve some files, simply remove them from the list and they will be kept.
If you ever wanted to automate process of making Gapps for your own personal use, this script is for you. You can visit the original thread to learn more.
Get the Latest Gapps with 0-Day PA Gapps Compilation
It’s no secret that pairing your device’s custom ROM with a good Google Apps package is quite important. This is especially true thanks to the emergence of ART, and its incompatibilities with certain Gapps packages.
In the past we’ve featured quite a few ways of getting Gapps on your device with minimal struggle. But thanks to XDA Senior Member TKruzze and the official PA Google Apps, there is a fantastic solution for users of any 4.3- or 4.4-based ROM.
So, what makes this Gapps package unique? For starters, the applications are updated 0-day. In other words, a new version of the Gapps package appears as soon as Google releases a new version. Next, several (modular) packages with varying numbers of built-in applications are offered. Finally, new versions to the Gapps come as OTA updates if you’re a Paranoid Android user.
While these are the official Paranoid Android Google Apps, they should work on any 4.3- or 4.4-based ROM, as long as you select the proper version of Android. Head over to the original thread to get in on all of the latest Gapps action.
Download the Correct GApps Fast and Easily with Gapps Manager
If you’ve ever used a custom ROM, you know that due to legal reasons, most of them are released without Google’s proprietary applications, simply known as GApps. Those packages can be a bit finicky, as every version of Android needs a particular package, so sometimes it’s hard to choose the correct file to download.
In the past, we’ve talked about two applications capable of downloading GApps packages easily: EasyGApps and GooManager. But since KitKat’s release, updated Gapps are not hosted on our partner goo.im anymore.
XDA Senior Member ebildude123 created a simple application to download the correct package directly to your phone or tablet, so all you need to do is to apply the package from the recovery of your device. The application supports every version of Android starting from Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread onwards. You can even download GApps compatible with the new ART compiler introduced in KitKat. And if for some reason you are not sure of your Android version, Gapps Manager will let you know so you can pick your poison.
With Gapps Manager, you won’t spend any second longer than necessary when finding and sideloading GApps to your device! If you are looking for easy Gapps manager, you should visit the application thread and get this simple application a try. This comes with good timing, given the recent M2 release of CM11 for quite a few devices.
Effortlessly Download Gapps Packages with EasyGApps
Finding and downloading the correct Gapps package can sometimes be a daunting task, especially for those who are new to flashing custom ROMs. Goo.im and its corresponding Android application, GooManager, are great tools for the more experienced users who understand how to navigate its file system and how to read file names. For less advanced users, however, there may be difficulties navigating.
By implementing the Android API WebViews, XDA Senior Member MBQ_ has created EasyGApps, a simple solution that directs users straight to the source Gapps website, without the need to navigate through hundreds of other developer creations. The clean user interface makes the application very straightforward and easy to navigate. Four different package types are currently available including, Official Gapps, which bring users directly to the Gapps folder in goo.im; Banks GApps; Slim GApps; and PA GApps, which appears to be inaccessible at the moment. Other features include hardware acceleration for its UI, nine different application themes, optimized views, cleared cache on exit, and a directory of other things created by the developer.
For more information and to download the APK, visit the original thread.
Nook HD+ Gets Alternate Root Method, Gapps, and More
A couple of weeks ago, we brought you news that the Nook HD and Nook HD+ had gotten permanent root. This is of course great news, as the Nook HD and HD+ run their own Android-based OS, and were in serious need of some more traditional Android goodness. Now, there is a new method for root, along with installing the Google Apps that will make the device much more usable.
XDA Senior Member someone0 posted a pretty long tutorial that takes Nook HD and HD+ owners through the entire root and modification process. Included is a link to three guides. The first is a root guide, the second is a Google Apps guide, and the third is a tips thread by XDA Senior Member leapinlar. Using these guides in tandem, users can get root, Google Apps, change the settings to install unknown sources, and more.
This guide can be immensely helpful to those who want their Nook HD or HD+ rooted and running Google Apps. Plus, Play Store access is always nice. In short, having these extra tools can make these tablets infinitely more useful to those who enjoy using Google’s products.
For the full tutorial and more details, check out the original thread.
Core Android 4.2 Apps and Gapps on Any Jelly Bean Device
Ever since Google revealed Android 4.2, we have seen several apps from Android’s latest version surfacing here at XDA. Now that the Nexus 4 system dump has been out for a while, things are only ramping up. Recently, Android hacker Kill Droid Hack extracted all core Android 4.2 apps as well as the latest Google Apps from the Nexus 4 dump, deodexed them, and ported them for installing on any device running Jelly Bean 4.1 or later.
The apps in the package include Camera, Desk Clock, Chrome, Maps, Street View, Gmail, Play Store, Play Music, Google Talk and all other core Google Apps and Android system apps. In addition, all the required libraries are also included in the package for functionality.
To make finding all the 4.2 apps easier for all of us, XDA Senior Member sharingan92 has posted a forum thread where you can find all these apps and more. So head over there and grab the latest Jelly Bean 4.2 goodies for your device running 4.1 or later.
Nabi 2 Tablet for Kids Gets Root, Recovery, and Gapps
Usually when we do pieces for rooted devices, they are devices that have their own forum sections. Of course, we make exceptions for unique devices. The Nabi 2 is an interesting exceptions for two reasons. First and foremost, it is a tablet for children. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it has better specs than 2/3 of the tablets that have their own sections. Inside this toy for tots is a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, 8GB of storage with SD card slot, and a 7″ 1024×600 display. Essentially, it’s similar to a Nexus 7 with a lower resolution screen, HDMI out, and external storage options. Now, it’s been rooted and given Google Apps.
XDA Recognized Contributor jmztaylor has released the root method for the Nabi 2 as well as a method for getting Google Apps. To use it, you’ll need to have ADB working and the appropriate drivers installed. From there, you download the script, extract to your desktop, and run the script. Choose which option you want and enjoy root.
Once rooted you have a couple of options. You can keep the Monarch UI—the installed UI for kids—by not touching /system/vendor. However, if you want the classic Android experience, simply get rid of that folder. Granted, it’s only ICS, but it’s still a tablet with very impressive specs for a very cheap price.
How a tablet with these kind of specs flew under the radar so well, no one can be sure. But if you’d like more information, check out the original thread.
Get Gapps in Tablet Mode without Tablet Mode
We have all seen Paranoid Android, which features a true hybrid mode interface that allows users to change virtually any application’s DPI and layout. However when activated on a device with a smaller screen, tablet mode does not necessarily look all that neat. Depending on a lot of factors, you may want to revert back to regular phone mode. However, this forgoes the advantages you were trying to gain in the first place. If you are stuck in between this proverbial rock and a hard place (first world problem), you may want to look at what XDA Recognized Developer DAGr8 has in store.
Essentially, the dev has taken a couple of gapps as a proof of concept and has forced them to act as if your device was in tablet mode by giving you the multi-paned version of the app. So, essentially doing this gives you the best of both worlds (you get to use apps in tablet mode without sacrificing your trusty “non-tablet” mode (for lack of a better name). The dev has only gone ahead and changed only dark themed versions of Gmail and Gtalk but is willing to take suggestions for other apps that may be worth forcing into the alternate mode.
Please try them out and leave your feedback for the dev. The last thing to keep in mind is that due to differences in code (signatures, etc), you have to keep in mind that the apps may not work properly (or at all) on your device. So, it is recommended that you backup your device just in case you decide to go back.
Since we dont all like tablet mode but might like dual panel for some apps and not for others , I decided to start forcing a few apps to display in dual panel .
You can find more information in the original thread.
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Don’t Like Proprietary Applications on AOSP ROMs? Join the NOGAPPS Project
As most of you are aware, XDA is dedicated to a spirit of openness in both hardware and software. One thing that proponents of open source ideals have long rallied against is the bundling of closed source proprietary software, especially when that software is required for the operating system to retain full functionality. Even Google is guilty of this, as not using their proprietary Google Applications (i.e. Maps, Play Store, etc.) with an Android device greatly reduces standard functionality.
XDA Forum Member MaR-V-iN has taken it upon himself to do something about this with his latest endeavor: NOGAPPS Project. The basic premise is to incorporate all of the missing APIs that would normally come from the closed-source, proprietary Google Applications (GAPPS) and incorporate them into open applications. This would in turn allow AOSP to become truly independent and functional, without the user having to flash additional proprietary content. (For those not aware, Google does not allow AOSP ROM developers, like Cyanogen, to bundle GAPPS with their ROM’s, forcing users to flash them separately.)
The project is being updated regularly, and MaR-V-iN is looking for assistance in both testing and development. So head on over to the original thread and contribute in any way you can.
Sunday Debate: Is Google Focusing Enough on AOSP?
Join us in a fun Sunday Debate on AOSP. Come with your opinions and feel free to read some of our thoughts, then pick your side or play devil’s advocate to get your voice heard and engage in friendly discussion. You can read our food-for-thought or jump straight into the fray below!
It’s fair to say that Android is the platform of choice in this site, at least when it comes to mobile technology. And the name “Google” is a word that is seemingly inseparable from the little green robot… yet despite this, many Android fans feel that the company has been abandoning their creation – the actual platform – in some ways. Most of these complaints come from Google’s focus their services, but it doesn’t stop there.
Play Services are, indeed, a huge aspect of commercial Android, and plenty of users consider them inseparable from the Android experience. Those who don’t can easily find many alternatives to the missing apps, but things like Google Now or the Play Store offer invaluable tools when it comes to making your life easier. However, living without GApps and Play Services altogether is more complicated for technical reasons. So far there is no personal assistant like Google Now, and this remains one of the strongest points for consumers. And with the upcoming improvements, it is only bound to get smarter and more useful.
So, without considering things such as privacy concerns, is Google’s change of focus as clear as some other people make it out to be? Where can we expect the platform to head towards if they do focus more on their proprietary services than their open platform? What do you personally want Google to do? Feel free to read some of our thoughts below, or jump straight to the comments to start discussing!
The main reason that we at XDA like the focus to be on Android and not Play Services is clear to many of you: we can easily modify AOSP, but not their proprietary and closed source services as effortlessly (and parts are logically off-grounds altogether); modifying and creating upon the platform is at the core of our site. While Android had a huge update last year, throughout 2015 Google has aimed to improve their feature repertoire. Google I/O 2015 did not show as many Android features as previously expected, and while the conference is called Google I/O (and thus, they have a right to focus on Google), their focus on Play Services was all too clear. Among the big improvements we know Android M is bringing fingerprint support and changes to power management and permissions. Other than that, the meat of their annual keynote was aimed at Google Now on Tap, the Play Store, their Photos app and their VR projects – hardly the kind of things that will matter most to AOSP.
All of these developments are complex and take away resources that would otherwise be spent on improving the platform. As it is, Android smartphones exist amongst Android smartwatches, cars, TV sets, and more. Maintaining and updating every branch is an increasingly complicated task, and it would be so for any company. And more importantly to some, we don’t have full control of their services, which can be detrimental in many ways – from privacy to performance. The latter is a common annoyance for many users, as Play Services are known to go on a battery murder spree every now and then, further adding to the inconsistencies that we dislike so much about our beloved platform.
What is perhaps the biggest reason one would encourage Google to improve their services, apart from personal satisfaction, is the fact that they are a huge part of Android’s commercial success, and a significant factor in its expansion across several markets. If Android is what it is today, shipping nearly 80% of yearly smartphone units, it is in great part due to Google’s concentrated efforts to bring good features to the commercial product. On an UX standpoint, their services are a doubled edged sword: while you can get a faulty update every now and then, updates are frequent, regular and bypass OEMs and carriers, bringing you the latest features without having to wait nearly as much. A huge percentage of users (particularly in the West) rely on these services, and they allow for the revenue that then gets poured up into further projects that all users can enjoy.
The company does also open up some of their other apps and products. as seen with their latest announcements for Android’s Chrome. But at this point in the race, they must keep up with the competition in the service space, as it is furiously picking up. Apple keeps growing and expanding in both hardware and software, but their biggest worry should be Microsoft, who’s been releasing more Android apps than we can keep track of, some being surprisingly good at that. Knowing that this company is backing up Cyanogen and making lots of deals with OEMs, Google needs to make sure that they can muster polished and original functionality to keep up and keep a tight hold on their platform to not let it slip – whether that is good or bad is up to you.
On one hand, Google’s services are a core part of the Android experience to many users around the globe, and a huge part as to why Android is what it is today. They also must be kept strong in order to compete and sustain the future of the platform in smartphones and other devices. On the other hand, much of Google’s latest developments are not on the Android platform itself, and thus we can’t modify it the way we can AOSP. It also brings freedom and privacy into the question, but a more direct downside is that it leaves developers having to pick up Google’s slack when it comes to features and polish. Living without Gapps gets harder every day for many of us, but plenty do try to make it easier.
So we ask you:
Do you think Google is focusing on Android enough?
Are their current developments good for the Android open source platform?
After these changes, what do you think about Google as a company?
Do you live without Google Apps or Services?
Dual Boot on Android: A Power User’s Holy Grail?
Many of you probably dual-boot your personal computers, be it to run Linux alongside Windows or because you have a Mac and hate OS X. On a computer platform, the process can be a life-saver for a variety of reasons, particularly software compatibility/integration. It’s not rare to see computer programmers with Linux partitions or Mac gamers that use bootcamp for their videogames. On computers, the process has gotten relatively simpler over time, with Microsoft and Apple typically supporting the notion. On Android, the story is different.
Android’s motto is “choice”, and its banner is the liberty it provides to achieve such motto. But most Android users have unlimited choice within a choice (that is, the ROM they are running). A simple example would be a user who is running a Samsung ROM on Lollipop and can’t yet use Xposed. Sure, there are AOSP ROMs that are able to run Xposed, but the user might not want to switch over just for those perks. The isolated islands that are fragmented ROMs mean that, while the user has unlimited liberty within that island, the decision space is limited by what’s on it. And an island next to it might have a lot of things the user wishes to have.
That is essentially the problem that Windows and Mac suffer from, but not in such a fierce manner since they are proprietary by nature and not as open as Android. Linux users get a particularly isomorphic experience due to the similarities of the platforms regarding openness. But dual boot is still very much possible on Android, even if not quite as mainstream. Luckily, XDA developers and others too have come up with different ways to get your device to run two Android ROMs – or even different operating systems – at once.
Dual booting makes sense on a computer, but does it on a phone? Not for the general user, perhaps. Even experienced users might call it an answer without a question, and it does come with some annoyances too. But to us at XDA, the additional freedom and choice means that, if used right, dual booting can be a power user’s Holy Grail. Let’s explore why.
MultiROM sits after your bootloader for a GRUB-like experience on Android and allows you to load into different ROMs, and even other operating systems like Ubuntu Touch. MultiROM comes courtesy of XDA Recognized Developer Tasssadar, and it is perhaps one of the best known solutions for dual booting on Android. We covered the installation process in an XDA TV feature, but keep in mind that official support is limited to a handful of devices like the Nexus 4, Nexus 5 and both the 2012 and 2013 Nexus 7 tablets. There’s also unofficial ports and versions in development, so check out compatibility here.
XDA Senior Recognized Developer Hashcode had created an option called Safestrap, which many XDA users with locked bootloaders (thanks to carriers) have come to love. This piece of software is sadly (officially) unsupported by Hashcode at this point, which means official development has ceased. That being said, the lucky ones who can still exploit Safestrap get access to additional ROM slots and a lot of other goodies to boot.
XDA Senior Member chenxiaolong has created DualBoot Patcher which you can use to patch ROMs (and flashables like GApps) and make them available for multi-booting. You can grab the latest snapshot patcher here but keep in mind that some additional steps might be required for your device. For Galaxy Note 4, devices, for example, the guide I used requires a repatcher by XDA Senior Member rlorange. It is also finally used in conjunction with the Swap ROMs APK to hop between ROMs.
There’s also GRUB for Android by developer Michael Zimmermann which is a bootloader alternative for Qualcomm devices that acts like, well, GRUB. You can check the +GRUB4Android community for news and information, as well as links to the sources. There’s also a plethora of other multiboot alternatives, so don’t think these are all of your options. XDA developers, in particular, have managed to get the functionality through various methods to many certain devices, something we love featuring since way back. The best way to find a dual boot solution is to search for one in your device’s specific XDA forum. If you do find a solution you could use, here’s why we at the Editorial Team think that you should go for it:
First of all, the best part about it is having a ROM for work and a ROM for play, or rather, a daily driver and a secondary ROM. I personally run TouchWiz on my Note 4 for its productivity features which are invaluable when on-the-run or doing research, homework or working. For when I am no longer occupied with tasks, I can boot into my CM12.1 ROM (or whatever AOSP ROM I happen to be running) for a sleeker, nicer UX that allows me to decompress better. And there’s also the fact that some ROMs come with exclusive features or have certain strengths and weaknesses:
OEM ROMs like TouchWiz can feature better image processing which results in better camera quality, something that is completely lost when transitioning to an AOSP ROM. Some ROMs also have better sound quality or performance in key areas, or features such as stamina mode or the touted “ultra power saving” functionality. In a pinch, these features can come in handy, and with dual booting you don’t have to sacrifice them for another ROM. If you need a feature from another “island”, the reboot will sail you across in less than a minute.
For flashaholics, dual booting also offers the opportunity to safely try out new ROMs (and things like Firefox OS, too) or test certain mods (usually) without risking your daily driver’s integrity. At the Portal Team we’ve shared stories of wanting to get some tweaks on our phones late at night, but holding up in case something went wrong and we would have to spend extra precious sleep time fixing it for the next morning. If you have additional ROM slots, you can tweak things or try mods without the fear of detrimental consequences throughout the rest of the day. Keep in mind that, for obvious reasons, this doesn’t include all mods, as some can still manage to mess up your other ROM (and more). But with the appropriate criteria, you can alter without many concerns.
There are negatives to this, however. Depending on your solution, the process can be quite “hacked-together” and sometimes risky, meaning you must be very careful in each step and at the least, make backups. Many users complain about the initial setup, as setting up a device is always rather annoying. Luckily, Lollipop ROMs streamline the process and with Google’s data backup, app download scheduling and Titanium Backup, the process isn’t too annoying (we are probably all used to it by now). Depending on your method, duplicate data may become a problem, particularly if you have low internal storage. Some solutions share data between ROMs, though, unlike the closed off nature of partitioned systems on PC. These are all things you should be aware of, but we think that the positives largely outweigh the negatives.
If Android is about openness, dual booting adds a whole dimension to the idea. Dual booting can be beneficial not just to Android on phones, but also Android Wear, something we discussed as a solution to the Wear openness conundrum and wish to see made a reality someday. Ultimately, if you are a power user, dual booting might aid you in your hobby and, at the same time, make your UX more rewarding. I personally love the option to switch ROMs in a minute or less, and it allows me to enjoy the latest software developments as well as the software that’s most useful to my use-cases. If you are willing to try it, search your device’s XDA forum and look at your options!
Do you dual boot on your Android phone? What do you think of dual booting? Discuss below.
Oppo N3 and Moto E Get First CyanogenMod Builds
Cyanogen has released official CM12 nightly builds for two more devices, the Moto E and the Oppo N3. These are the first builds so they may still be unstable and as usual be sure to make a back up of your current ROM and keep a copy of Gapps handy if you plan on using the Play Store or Services.