You may recall that a little over a month ago, we first talked about SideCuts by XDA Forum Member Jawomo. SideCuts offered quite a different take on the traditional sidebar launcher, by allowing the user to define gestures that can be launched from predetermined areas. The app was later renamed SideControl, and at around that time, it gained better rich notification support, as well as the ability to open sidebar apps in a floating window when XDA Senior Member zst123‘s HaloFloatingWindow Xposed Module is installed. Now, SideControl has gained some new powers thanks to several new Xposed controls.
SideControl now packs all of the same functionality as previous versions including custom gestures, but it adds quite a bit more by way of Xposed. Rooted users with Xposed installed are able to use SideControl to kill all running apps, kill the foreground app, take screenshots, access the power menu, control their media player, and more. The app can even function as a replacement for the Android navigation keys, and features useful macros such as kill app + screen off, and back key + screen off.
It’s exciting to see all the progress that SideControl has made in such a short time. Head over to the application thread to get started with the latest version.
April 23, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
The future certainly looks like it is full of wearables. While Google Glass may have the more futuristic vibe, it is more than likely that smartwatches will be the most popular wearable. In this episode, XDA Developer TV Producer TK combines two exciting things on his Samsung Galaxy Gear: smartwatches and Tasker.
We’ve talked about Tasker before here on XDA Developer TV. We even have a whole playlist dedicated to it. TK shows off how to launch tasks from Tasker on your phone using TasGear–everything from manually activating your WiFi on task to your taking a picture task is possible, bringing selfies to a whole new level. Check out this video for more information.
April 23, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Plenty of users nowadays have more than one mobile device. And although we don’t always carry these devices at the same time, it’s nice to be able to pull up one of our older devices to flash and mess around with from time to time. Multifunction toolkits exist for the vast majority of popular devices. However, not everyone wants to hunt down the latest toolkit for every device.
Luckily, there are various OEM-specific toolkits that perform most needed functions on devices by a particular manufacturer. XDA Senior Member WindyCityRockr created one such toolkit for quite a few HTC devices. This toolkit is able to unlock your bootloader through HTCDev, root your device, flash a ROM or kernel, pull and push files, install and uninstall apps, create and restore backups, collect system logs, sideload ROM updates, relock your bootloader, and more. Currently, the tool supports 12 unique devices (with many more variants), including all versions of the M7 and M8.
While we like to encourage doing things manually at least once as a learning process, users who favor the simplicity of toolkits can get quite a bit out of WindyCityRockr’s offering. You can get started by heading over to the utility thread and giving this toolkit a shot.
GitHub has become the epicenter of most open source development work that is posted both here to the XDA forums and abroad. Part of the reason for this is that there are so many useful tools built into the platform that allow developers to do what they need to do efficiently, and without jumping through too many hoops. However, not every project uses all of the tools made available to GitHub’s users, and perhaps the biggest offense in “open source” projects is the lack of proper commit history.
Maintaining a proper commit history is very useful both for yourself and others working with your code. Not only does it help other developers understand the changes and additions you’ve added, but it also helps you keep track of your own project better. Sadly, there are many projects in which a static source code snapshot is shared and no repo fork or commit history given. This could be a result of laziness or because the developer has something to hide, but one thing is clear: It shouldn’t happen.
Thankfully, a detailed guide created by XDA Senior Member Mazda is available to help both new and seasoned developers efficiently clone a repo and maintain a full commit history. The guide covers both the terminal commands and the website options required. and the end result is a properly populated commit history, where other developers can learn from your experiences—in other words, true open source.
If you’re a developer looking to brush up on maintaining proper commit history, head over to the guide thread and give the thread a read.
April 22, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
If there is one application category that certainly isn’t lacking in Android, and that’s third party web browsers. Looking through the Play Store, there are dozens upon dozens of browser options available for the platform. But if you’re looking for lightweight option, the list shrinks a bit. And if you’re after an open source alternative, you’re down to only a few choices.
Many of our readers will undoubtedly be familiar with the innovative Lucid Launcher. First launched back in January, this launcher set itself apart by rethinking what exactly a launcher should do. Thus, it packed in quite a bit of bonus functionality including a fully functional web browser. Now, XDA Senior Member powerpoint45 has released a very early version of a web browser based on Lucid Launcher’s browser.
Lucid Browser itself is fairly minimal, but this is by design. It is built to be lightweight, and at 935 KB, it certainly succeeds at that goal. It is also designed to be visually unobtrusive. And to that end, you’ll find a collapsible sidebar that houses your bookmarks, sharing options, and settings. But best of all, the app is open source, with all the relevant code available on GitHub. Thus, users can feel free to fork their own versions or submit pull requests for modifications.
If you’re looking for a lightweight and open source alternative browser, or if you wish to create your own browser using this as a base, make your way over to the application thread and give Lucid Browser a shot.
April 22, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Late last week, Google issued a massive update to the Google Camera app, allowing users to experience DSLR-like bokeh and Lytro-like refocusing capabilities with any camera sensor. This was made possible because in addition to image data, the primary camera sensor is also used to capture depth data. The end result is quite similar to HTC’s recently opened Duo Camera System. But rather than using two lenses like Duo Camera (or an array of micro lenses like Lytro), Google’s solution has users slowly move the camera upwards after taking a shot. This parallax effect is then used to interpolate depth data.
Viewing these new depth-laden images from within the provided viewer app is nice, but it’s certainly not as convenient as viewing these same images on your computer with a significantly larger screen. Luckily, GitHub user th7org, Depthy allows you to extract depth data from the new Google Camera app’s images. Once that’s done, you can generate your own parallax images, which through the magic of WebGL allow you to virtually adjust your viewing perspective ever so slightly. Furthermore, all of this is done locally through the webapp, and can even be done on WebGL-compatible mobile browsers such as most recent builds of Chrome.created the open source webapp Depthy. Posted to the forums by panrafal’s friend XDA Forum Member
To get started generating your own parallax images or extracting depth maps, head over to the webapp thread and give Depthy a shot. And if you wish to incorporate this depth map and parallax image creation functionality into a native Android or PC application, head over to the project’s GitHub to check out the code.
April 22, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
We all know that Android and XDA are about customizing your device. While that often means rooting and installing custom ROMs, sometimes you just want to play with fonts–and that’s fine, as long as it is not Comic Sans! It would be great to change the fonts on a per app bases to really unleash the power of customization!
In this episode of XDA Xposed Tuesday, XDA Developer TV Producer TK reviews an Xposed Module that lets you change fonts! XDA Senior Member zst123 created the PerAppFonts Xposed Module. TK shows off the module and gives his thoughts, so check out this Xposed Tuesday video.
There are many, many ways to install a custom ROM nowadays. Although most of us currently do so by downloading (or building) an archive that is flashed through a custom recovery, there are many other ways to accomplish this same task. For example, you can manually flash the required images via Fastboot, or you can use a tool like Goo Manager to handle all the recovery commands for you. But you surely can’t flash a ROM from a text message, right? Wrong.
XDA Forum Member rootfan‘s new application SMS-Romer allows you to install official CM builds onto your rooted device via a simple text message. The app currently allows you to select between build types (nightly, stable, release candidate, or snapshot). In addition, you are also able to wipe dalvik, cache, or data in the installation process. Finally, you can install any particular gapps version.
Obviously for this to work, your device must also currently have or have had official CyanogenMod support in the past. But given the vast number of officially supported devices, this isn’t too difficult of a criteria to meet. And in addition to official CM, you need to have TWRP2+ installed on your device. This is because this app works by utilizing TWRP’s open source ORS like the TWRP Coordinator app we covered yesterday.
While we certainly still recommend at least keeping an eye on your phone while using this tool, SMS-Romer is a great little novelty trick for the crack flasher looking to be even more addicted. Head over to the application thread to get started.
April 21, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Back in October of last year, Google integrated SMS functionality into the Hangouts Android app. While many have found the added functionality to be quite convenient, it hasn’t been without its own set of issues.
Ignoring the obvious loss of yet another actively developed AOSP app in favor of a closed source offering, the Hangouts SMS integration always felt a bit incomplete. Part of this undoubtedly arises from how Hangouts has traditionally separated SMS and Hangouts conversations, even if they originated from the same sender. This has always lead to a disjoint feeling when transitioning from one messaging service to another–something that competitors like iMessage have already sorted out.
Now, Google has finally put and end to this, as the latest publicly available version of Hangouts (version 2.1) merges SMS and Hangouts conversations to/from the same recipient. When sending a new message, you’ll be able to select which service to send the message from with a flip of a switch. Message types will be easily discernible, as seen in the screenshot to your right, and you’ll be able to unmerge conversations at will.
In addition to the merged messaging, the new Hangouts app will simplify your contacts list into two main sections: people you Hangout with, and phone contacts. The new update also brings a quick widget to access recent conversations, as well as improved performance and reliability for video calls and SMS/MMS messages.
The new version is currently making its way out to consumer devices via a staged rollout. Because of this, not every device will receive the update in the first wave. Luckily, we’ve mirrored the APK over on our Dev-Host for those who want to get in on the action a bit early. You can check out the full list of added features by visiting the source link below. We can only imagine that quite a few of our readers have been looking forward to this for quite some time. I know I have. Leave us your thoughts in the comments section!
April 21, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
It’s no secret that Android ROM and kernel development is easiest on Linux and other Unix-like OSes like MacOS X. Sure, you can find various tools to do certain other useful Android development tasks on Windows like decompiling/recompiling and Smali editing, but if you’re building Android from source and don’t want to use a virtual machine or Cygwin, you really should be on a *nix OS.
If you’ve looked into Linux for the sole purpose of getting started with Android ROM and kernel development, you have likely already heard of BBQLinux. Developed by XDA Senior Recognized Developer codeworkx, BBQLinux is an Arch-based Linux distribution that is geared specifically at Android developers. Baked into the ROM, you’ll find everything you need to build AOSP or AOSP-based ROMs like OmniROM, Paranoid Android, CyanogenMod, and more. And since it’s based on Arch, it’s compatible with all the same package repos.
Since BBQLinux was designed from the ground up to be an Android development distro, it makes the process both more streamlined and easier than it would be if starting from scratch on a more general purpose build. However, some (especially those new to the world of Linux) may still be intimidated when getting started with BBQ. Luckily, You may XDA Senior Member yuweng created a screenshot-laden guide that shows you how to use BBQLinux’s built in packages and features to build Android. Yuweng also shares code that he used when building for his own device. In addition, yuweng also covers hotkeys, shared folders with Windows, and how to get BBQLinux installed through virtualbox, using dual boot, or making it the computer’s native OS.
If you want to run Linux so that you can more easily build Android, BBQLinux should be on your short list of distributions to consider. And if you’re looking for an easy guide to help you set it up, yuweng’s guide thread is a great place to start. Head over to the guide thread to learn more.
April 21, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
If you’ve ever modified precompiled applications, you have undoubtedly spent time with XDA Recognized Developer Brut.all‘s APKTool or one of its variants. APKTool works quite well, which is why after so many years, people still use it. However, using APKTool then requires you to use a separate app such as Notepad++ to edit the decompiled binaries. Once that’s done, you then have to go back to APKTool to recompile the modified app.
In order to streamline things significantly, XDA Forum Member vaibhavpandeylive created APK Studio. Perhaps the best way to classify APK Studio would be to call it an IDE for .smali files, complete with syntax highlighting. But rather than simply allow you to edit and visualize the code, APK Studio also is able to decompile and recompile binaries from within the utility itself. Thus, it leads to a much more streamlined APK editing process, since now you only need one tool to do everything.
While ideally source-built development and app modification is the way to go, there are many times in which an app’s source code is not available, but you still wish to make a few tweaks for personal use. For situations like these, APK Studio will certainly come in handy. Head over to the utility thread to give it a shot. And if you think you can improve upon the app, download the app’s source code and have a go at it.
April 21, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
Android 4.4.2 KitKat has finally arrived on the Verizon LG G2! That and much more news is covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this weekend. Included in this weekend’s news is the announcement that the Xperia Z, ZL, ZR, and Tablet Z will receive their KitKat updates in May and the story about how the Sony Xperia Z Ultra Google Play Edition has received a Bluetooth certification for Android 4.4.3! That’s not all that’s covered in today’s video!
Jordan also talks about the exciting news of the Xperia Z1 receiving multiboot. Pull up a chair and check out this and other XDA Developer TV videos like, XDA Developer TV Producer TK’s Xposed Tuesday video for Call Blocker and TK’s Android App Review of Lockdown Pro. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
April 20, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
There are plenty of ways to get your contacts to show up on your Android home screen. Stock Android offers a way to access individual contacts directly, and every OEM’s own skinned interface offers similar or enhanced functionality. But let’s face it–you don’t always want to interact with a predetermined set group of individuals. Sometimes, you need to talk to specific people to do things like return a missed call, and so on. XDA Forum Member swarly‘s new application CallWho helps you do exactly this.
CallWho is a configurable home screen widget that displays a sorted list of who you probably want to call at any given time. This hierarchical list is based on favorite contacts. But unlike practically every other contacts widget available, this one dynamically displays the most relevant contacts first. For example, if you tend to call certain people at a particular time of day, CallWho will learn to display these contacts first. Also, if you have a missed call, CallWho will place the caller up at the top of the list.
The widget itself is resizable from a minimum of 2×2, and allows you to customize the displayed list size. You can also configure how you would like the widget to display (grid or stack), as well as what you want the widget to do once it’s clicked.
To get started with intelligent contact management, simply head over to the application thread and give CallWho a try.