In addition to Android operating system proper, Google is focusing hard on giving the developers new tools to make their projects better and to fight against the growing problem of Android version fragmentation. Over the next few days, Google will be releasing an update to Google Play Services 6.1, which brings many new API enhancements to the platform independent of main Android version.
The Google Play Services 6.1 update isn’t quite as big as some would expect. Google has added Enhanced Ecommerce analytics support from Google Tag Manager and improved the Google Drive Android API. The new release also puts a great emphasis on the new Google Fit.
So far the biggest update for analytics was introduced in Play Services version 5.0. The goal was to help the developers understand how different user acquisition campaigns are performing at a granular level. The new update adds a few components like the ability to update and manage tags on mobile apps more easily. This is aimed to give developers (and Google) the best tools to monetize their apps. With the updated Google Drive API, Google allows developers to see when actions are committed to the server and improve the response time to conflicts.
The new version of Google Play Services should start to roll out in the next few days, and we’ll be sure to share the APK once it’s available. Some Material design elements have been also incorporated into the File Picker UI. With the new update, some new methods have also been added. You can learn more from the Google’s official blog entry.
September 16, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
Some applications ask for the world when it comes to permissions. I have spoken to developers who say it’s better to ask for permissions you don’t need, than you have to ask for more permissions in an update. However at some point, you may want to tweak information for certain apps.
In this episode of XDA Xposed Tuesday, XDA Developer TV Producer TK reviews an Xposed Module that lets you take full control over your device. XDA Senior Member CollegeDev created the DonkeyGuard module. TK shows off the modules and gives his thoughts, so check out this Xposed Tuesday video.
One of the best things that Android has always offered its users is the ability to tailor one’s device to look like pretty much anything we could conceive. Starting from the wide assortment of launchers available (both OEM and custom/community based) all the way to fonts, icons, and wallpapers, Android offers something for everyone. The world of live wallpapers has also seen the creativity of our devs by allowing us to interact with the background of our devices via visual effects all the way to letting our devices play a flawless game of Mario Bros all on its own. There are other LWPs that will allow you to make collages of your favorite photos, and even make them transition to new pictures for that “new phone” look every time you go Home.
And speaking of our picture stash, one of the undisputed, largest sources for pictures that we can think of in this day and age is undoubtedly Facebook. Family pictures, friends, and even memes—all can be found by simply logging into your account. And yes, you can download the pictures on your phone and use them as wallpaper. However, downloading picture after picture can be a somewhat tedious task, no matter how easy it is. If you are in this line of thought too, where you would like to use Facebook pictures as your wallpaper, then you definitely need to check out XDA Forum Member Solacetech‘s work.
FBView (Facebook View) is a LWP that will automatically use any and all pictures (at least the most recent ones) from your Facebook feed in order to create a collage of pictures with it. But wait (yell in Billy Mays’ voice), it gets better because the app is capable of updating your wallpaper’s pictures in predefined time intervals–all without your intervention. This way, you will never miss any of your friend’s jewels of wisdom despite being away from the Facebook app itself.
The app is still in its testing stages, and the dev is currently looking for feedback to make the app somewhat better. Do you have any ideas or maybe found a bug? Please report it to the thread and remember that logcats are your friends (as well as your dev’s friends also). You can find more information in Facebook View’s original thread.
September 15, 2014 By: Tomek Kondrat
Nowadays, almost everyone has a second life on the Internet. Among the best tools available to keep your friends close are websites like Facebook or Twitter. Social networks are taking up a big part of our lives, and the situation will likely not change in the next few years.
All of these social networks have one thing in common: You are communicating with people that you know. There are moments in life when you want to share your thoughts and feelings anonymously, to a person at the opposite side of the world. While Facebook or Twitter don’t allow for that, there are tools like an app made by XDA Forum Member Appsent Minded that turn such a concept into reality.
The A Minimalist Social Network app displays only one message at time, without adding any further information. Everything is confidential, fast, and easy to use. You can share your thoughts about your life, things you love or hate, or simply say hi. Your message will be visible as long as the next person using the application will send a reply.
Are you feeling lonely or maybe you have something interesting to say? Share your thoughts by heading over to the A Minimalist Social Network app thread.
September 15, 2014 By: Conan Troutman
Heads up notifications, in case you didn’t already know, are an experimental type of notification that can be found in 4.4.x versions of Android. They aren’t openly available to use on an unmodified ROM, but many custom ROMs will have this feature enabled by default. As always, the Xposed Framework can be used to enable the feature. There are also third party applications available to activate heads up notifications as well.
While there’s no shortage of quick and easy ways to enable these notifications, knowing how to do something from scratch is never a bad thing. As such, XDA Senior Member moonknightus has provided a pretty comprehensive tutorial on how to make these modifications manually. The tutorial is quite useful as it seems that simply enabling heads up notifications caused several issues that effectively made it unusable and some of the steps described should address those issues. The guide is geared towards the Sprint Samsung Galaxy S3 running an ND8 Kit Kat firmware. However, using the information provided, it may be possible to get the desired result on other devices or ROMs. There are indications within the thread that this method can indeed be transferred to a variant of the Galaxy Note 2.
The process is fairly straight forward and accomplished by using a combination of apktool and your text editor of choice to decompile and modify the code contained within the SystemUI and SecSettings APK files. Once the changes have been made, you can push the files back to your device and enjoy your new notifications. Some previous experience with decompiling and editing system files would be a great help but this is also quite a good and straight forward project for someone keen to learn how to do this sort of thing.
If you’d like to learn more and try this out for yourself, then check out the original heads up notification tutorial thread for more information.
September 15, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
The Moto G on Boost Mobile receives its Android KitKat 4.4.4 release, finally! That and much more news is covered by Jordan when he reviews all the important stories from this weekend. Included in this weekend’s news is the announcement of the HTC Desire gets a custom ROM, recovery and kernel and be sure the check out the article talking about Google adding Android apps to Chrome OS! That’s not all that’s covered in today’s video!
Jordan talks about the other videos released this weekend on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV newcomer droidmodd3rx released a video sort of reviewing OmniROM. Then, rirozizo showed you how to make your GPS lock faster. And if you missed it, be sure to check out Jordan’s Review of the Nvidia SHIELD Tablet. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
September 15, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Music is a passion that transcends age, gender, race, culture, and geographic location. There are music fans everywhere. And unless you’re deaf, chances are that music is a significant part of your life in some form or another as well.
For most people, the main form of musical exposure comes from various facets of the media. For example, we hear songs on the radio, watch music videos on MTV, and even browse the Billboard music charts to discover new music. Unfortunately with the last option, it’s often cumbersome to get from a text list with various songs to actually being able to sample the music for yourself. This is where Billy by XDA Forum Member Vibin comes in.
Billy is an application that lets you browse the most popular pop, rock, and dance songs on the Billboard.com charts and then stream them directly from within the app. Music is pulled from SoundCloud, and if you are feeling particularly interested in any given song, you can even choose to watch the official YouTube music video for each of the tracks.
If you’re a music lover looking for new tunes, Billy may be just what the doctor ordered. Just make your way over to the Billy application thread to get started.
When you are the leader of a large development project, Gerrit isn’t the only tool that can help you keep everything organized. While compiling and uploading a ROM or kernel for one or two devices isn’t overly time-consuming, building for a dozen devices or more can take loads of time and therefore makes it extremely difficult to maintain.
There is a good news, though. You don’t have to launch every nightly build manually.
Not so long ago, our XDA TV Producer AdamOutler gave an overview showing how to use Jenkins. For those who don’t remember, Jenkins is a tool that allows building multiple projects automatically on one of your build servers. While Jenkins isn’t that complicated to use, you can make it even easier. This is possible with a script created by XDA Senior Member streambinder called TSJ.
TSJ is an abbreviation for The Simplified Jenkins. This tool allows users to build multiple projects and upload them directly to an FTP server. Everything is easy and takes just a few moments to configure. We strongly recommend the use of Jenkins to handle large scale nightly or stable releases. It’s a fast and easy way of building ROMs for many users. You can also treat Jenkins and its configuration as a good chance to learn something new. Naturally, this tool will work only on Linux distros.
You can learn more about the TSJ project by visiting the TSJ development thread.
September 14, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
It’s absolutely no secret that battery life is somewhat of an undoing for many great devices. With the exception of battery behemoths such as the Galaxy Note series with its superb longevity, most modern flagships seem to top out at only about eight hours of screen time or less. Because of this, it is quite common to see countless threads in various device-specific forums asking for advice on how to achieve better battery life.
One of the big culprits for battery drain is undoubtedly wireless connectivity. However, it’s not really practical to disable mobile data because doing so cuts one off from the outside world. Luckily, there are device automation tools like Tasker and Llama that can automate the process. But for those just wanting a simple app to do it for them, Tasker is a little bit of overkill.
This is where AutoData by XDA Senior Member symbuzzer comes in. As its name implies, AutoData automatically turns off your data when not in use in order to save battery life. It does this by turning off mobile data after your screen has been off for ten minutes. Your mobile data connection will remain off for 15 minutes, at which point, connectivity is restored for one minute in order to allow you to receive notifications from your applications such as Gmail, Whatsapp, Facebook, and so on. This cycle then repeats, and in doing so, saves your limited battery reserves. And of course, once your screen turns back on, mobile data will be reactivated.
If you find that your battery has a hard time making it through the day, you may want to give AutoData a shot. Head over to the AutoData application thread to get started.
About a week ago, our fantastic writer and my esteemed colleague Tom embarked on a mission to learn the vast and rich history of custom recoveries. The point of all of this wasn’t simply self edification, as Tom is in the process of compiling an article that details the evolution and progress we’ve seen in the world of custom recoveries.
Since the very beginnings of custom recoveries occurred so many device generations ago, their history has long since been forgotten by most still involved in Android development. And when Tom asked yours truly about what I remembered from the custom recovery scene back then, this editor blanked and only remembered that I indeed was running some kind of custom recovery, but failed to remember which options were available at the time.
Luckily, XDA Moderator Committee and Portal Team Member conantroutman had a better memory. So with a little bit of whiskey-inspired flair, he added his own unique spin to the great history of custom recoveries:
It all began with the forging of the Great Recoveries. Three were given to the Nexus devices; immortal, wisest and fairest of all beings. Seven, to the HTCs, great miners and craftsmen of the mountain halls. And nine, nine recoveries were gifted to the race of Samsungs, who above all else desire power. For within these recoveries was bound the strength and the will to govern over each race. But they were all of them deceived, for another recovery was made.
In the land of Seattle, in the fires of Mount Cyanogen, the Dark Lord Koush forged in secret, a master recovery, to control all others. And into this recovery he poured all his cruelty, his malice and his will to dominate all life. One recovery to rule them all. One by one, the free peoples of XDA fell to the power of the recovery. But there were some who resisted. A last alliance of geeks and nerds marched against the armies of Seattle, and on the very slopes of Mount Cyanogen, they fought for the freedom of XDA.
Victory was near, but the power of the recovery could not be undone. It was in this moment, when all hope had faded, that Amon Ra, son of jesusfreke, took up his father’s sword. And Koush, enemy of the free peoples of XDA, was defeated. The Recovery passed to Amon Ra, who had this one chance to destroy evil forever, but the hearts of men are easily corrupted. And the recovery of power has a will of its own. It betrayed Amon Ra, to his death. And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost.
History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the recovery passed out of all knowledge. Until, when chance came, the recovery ensnared a new bearer. The recovery came to the creature feeyo, who took it deep into the tunnels under the Misty Mountains, and there it consumed him. The recovery gave to feeyo unnatural long life. For five hundred years it poisoned his mind; and in the gloom of feeyo’s cave, it waited.
Darkness crept back into the forests of the world. Rumor grew of a shadow in the East, whispers of a nameless fear, and the Recovery of Power perceived. Its time had now come. It abandoned feeyo. But then something happened that the Recovery did not intend. It was picked up by the most unlikely creature imaginable. A neckbeard, of the Shire. For the time will soon come when neckbeards will shape the fortunes of all…
What do you remember from the early days of custom recoveries? Let us know in the comments below!
September 14, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
Nothing is more frustrating than opening up Google Maps and it taking way to long to lock your location. Additionally, slow GPS lock can impact the play-ability of GPS based games such as Ingress. When this happens, people try all sorts of voodoo to try and speed up the lock. They shake the phone, they walk in circles, they scream obscenities at the phone and more. What you really need, is to do something that might actually work.
In this episode of XDA Developer TV, XDA Developer TV newcomer and XDA Recognized Contributor rirozizo shows you how to make your GPS lock faster. He shows off the steps of how to modify the AGPS servers in the gps.conf. This is not as difficult as it sounds. So check out this video.
September 13, 2014 By: Tomek Kondrat
Android firmwares straight from OEMs usually have a rather poor choice of wallpapers available to select from. If you are looking for some good looking alternatives, you may want to consider downloading a wallpaper application or finding your desired background manually. Unlike Android, the Google Chromecast quite the opposite, shipping with quite a few beautiful images and pictures.
If you weren’t able to find a good looking wallpaper the old fashioned way, XDA Forum Member donniemceduns has made a handy application full of more than a few eye catching options. Chromecast Wallpapers, as the name suggests, is a collection of stock Chromecast wallpapers that have been made available for use on Android devices. The concept behind this app is very easy. It simply downloads one of the 680 stock wallpapers and sets it as your background.
Every available image is available in in 1920×1080 resolution, so it should fit most mid-range or high-end devices available on the market. The wallpapers are hosted online, so be sure to use this application while you are connected to the Internet. Some wallpapers can be very big in file size, so using it while connected to WiFi seems to be a smart idea.
Don’t let your screen be boring. Get the Chromecast wallpaper application and give it some new life by selecting one of almost 700 beautiful pictures and images.
Call Recording is a feature used by a lot of people for a variety of different reasons. Unfortunately for users of certain devices, the feature isn’t always available by default. This is true in the case of the Samsung Galaxy S5. And although the feature is there, it’s not accessible without a little modification by the end user. There are various ways to enable this functionality, the simplest probably being the use of an Xposed module. But for some people, that may not be an option. So for those of you who do not or cannot use Xposed to enable call recording, help is at hand.
XDA Senior Member _alexndr has put together a simple yet comprehensive guide to enabling call recording in one of three ways. The modification itself is achieved by editing an XML file tucked away within the device’s /system partition. Simply add the appropriate code to the relevant line and you are good to go. For those you aren’t confident in making these changes manually, _alexndr has provided the changes in the form of a .zip that can be deployed either via Mobile Odin (for those who wish to avoid issues with Knox) or the more traditional custom recovery route.
This method is aimed primarily towards carrier branded variants of the device, but the script will check for alternate locations in which to make the necessary changes if the default location is not found. That said, it’s not guaranteed to work on an international version and you may need to do a little digging to find the appropriate location in which to make the changes. You will of course need a rooted device to achieve this. It may also be possible to adapt this method to work on other Samsung devices and firmwares as well. If call recording is a feature that you feel is missing from your device then check out the Call Recording guide thread for more details.