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.
April 20, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
You may recall that back when TWRP2 introduced a couple of years ago, it brought with it the open source Open Recovery System (ORS). With ORS, purpose-built applications are able to queue various recovery tasks from directly within Android itself.
ORS eventually lead to the creation of various interesting applications such as the previously covered TWRP Manager. But what if you wanted an application to control virtually all aspects of TWRP from within Android? Now with TWRP Coordinator XDA by Senior Member Samer Diab and Recognized Developer Helicopter88, you can do precisely that.
As its name suggests, TWRP Coordinator allows you to initiate basically any TWRP-related task you could possibly want. This includes installing and updating TWRP, rebooting to recovery, flashing ZIPs, creating / renaming / deleting / restoring backups, wiping data, performing a factory reset, wiping specific partitions, fixing permissions, and much more.
With such a powerful application, you’d be right to want to prevent unauthorized use. Luckily, TWRP Coordinator offers both password protection and the ability to hide it from your launcher app. If you either lose your password or wish to launch the app after it’s been hidden, simply dial *#8977# into your phone dialer.
Naturally, you need to both be rooted and have TWRP (both official or unofficial) recovery installed on your device. As mentioned earlier, the application can install TWRP for you, but this naturally only applies to devices with official TWRP support.
You can get started by visiting the application thread.
April 20, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Regardless of their OS choice, computing power users generally share one common thread: They all like to know what their computing devices are doing at any given time. Because of this, there are plenty of event logger options on practically every platform. Android is no exception.
We’ve talked about taking a logcat quite a few times in the past, with the intention of helping you help your developers in the debugging process, but these were never meant to be convenient or easily readable by end users. What about an end user-readable option that tells you in simple language what your device is up to? Now thanks to Event Logger by XDA Recognized Developer pedja1, such an option exists.
Event Logger, as its name implies, keeps track of what your device does at any given time and displays it in a very simple and understandable format. Currently, the tool can keep tabs on your WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, charging status, location, display power, screen lock state, received SMS messages, application launches, call events, headphone events, media scanner events, time settings, airplane mode, battery level, wallpaper, volume, and when you restart or power off your phone. Those running Xposed Framework can also keep track of media playback events. In the future, various other events will be added such as NFC state, HDMI state, application installation and removal, mobile network state, and SD card state. Furthermore, event filtering will be added some time in the future.
If you’ve been looking for a simple and user friendly logging option for Android, Event Logger is a great solution. Head over to the application thread to give it a try.
April 20, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
You may recall that a few weeks ago, we talked about a rather interesting take on everyone’s favorite number game addiction, 2048. But while the previously covered version offered great game play thanks to its selectable grid sizes, it was admittedly a bit lacking on the UI front. Now, XDA Senior Member sylsau has published his own take on the number-based puzzler, offering quite a bit of polish that is lacking in most of the other 2048 variants available.
Sylsau’s 2048 Puzzle plays much like any other 2048 variant. You’re presented with a 4×4 grid, and your goal is to combine the numbers into a 2048 tile. But unlike other 2048 variants, you are given a few tools to keep the game exciting time after time. For starters, the game keeps track of how long it takes you to win. It also keeps track of all sorts of stats for its achievements system. Thanks to its use of Google Play Games leaderboards, you can show all your friends who’s truly best. And if you find the game a bit too difficult, it even gives you the ability to cheat a few times by removing certain tile types. Finally, the game’s UI is both clean and quite smooth on practically any hardware.
If you’re looking for an aesthetically appealing 2048 variant that will keep you playing in order to beat all of your friends, this 2048 version is for you. Make your way over to the game thread to get started. Just don’t blame me when you’re addicted.
When Google released Android 4.4 KitKat back in October of last year, they changed quite a bit under the hood to improve the OS’s performance. But in addition to cleaning up various bits and pieces of code to make things more efficient as part of Project Svelte, Google also got rid of the dynamic status bar indicators that would change colors to indicate network connectivity.
In doing so, Google replaced the dynamic blue and white signal and connectivity indicators in the Android status bar with static white icons. Not only did this improve UI performance by reducing rendering overhead and UI overdraw, but it also cleaned up the overall look of Android’s UI. Unfortunately though, there are still quite a few places in Android where you can still find the Tron-esque Holo Blue. But now thanks to XDA Recognized Themer rush25, you can finish what Google started.
Rush25′s theme subtly transforms quite few common Google applications to the KitKat-friendly white UI. The themed applications include the Dialer, messaging app, Calendar, Desk Clock, Gallery, Camera, Settings, Google Ears, Gmail, and more. The theme was built following a previously covered guide by XDA Senior Member enricocid, and I installs through the popular T-Mobile/CyanogenMod Theme Engine. And those running other ROMs can get in on the action using XDA Senior Member hdbk1986‘s HKThemeManager Xposed Module.
To get started, simply head over to the original thread.
[Thanks to enricocid for the tip!]
April 19, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
XDA Recognized Developer rovo89‘s innovative and versatile Xposed Framework allows developers to change virtually any aspect of a device’s software at runtime. And by virtue of these changes being made at runtime, users don’t have to permanently modify system files in order to achieve the desired result. Because of this, very many developers choose to create their development projects for use with Xposed rather pursuing other means.
In order to help make Xposed Module development just a few steps more streamlined, XDA Senior Member hamzahrmalik created a simple tool that automatically sets up an Xposed Module project in Eclipse. When activated, the tool automatically adds the Xposed API to the build path. It also adds the Xposed meta tags to the Manifest file, creates the appropriate packages and classes, and creates the required xposed_init file.
The tool comes in the form of a JAR file, so you can use this auto setup utility on any computer that is compatible with the Eclipse IDE. If you wish to get started creating an Xposed module, head over to the original thread and give this a try!
April 19, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
You may recall that back in August of last year, we talked about Android Control Center by XDA Senior Member Dr.Alexander_Breen. For those who have forgotten, Android Control Center gave Android users something quite similar to iOS 7′s Control Center, but with an Android-centric spin. But in the time since then, Android Control Center has been renamed to Quick Control Panel, and it was essentially rewritten in the process.
Just like before, Quick Control Panel is conceptually similar to iOS 7′s Control Center. Accordingly, it still allows you to switch various settings on the fly such as power toggles and music playback control–all of which is done with an Android-friendly Holo UI look. Now, however, the application has gained many more functions such as the ability to launch from the lock screen, even more customization, and quick access to the related settings page by long-pressing the toggles. Finally, while the old application was nothing painful to look at, the new revision is even nicer looking, as it features both a Holo UI-like color scheme, along with a cards-style control interface.
As was the case with the previous version, Quick Control Panel is available in both premium and lite/free versions. However, the developer has been kind enough to include the full version for free in his thread. However, if you find yourself loving the app, be sure to support the dev with either a donation or by purchasing the paid version. Head over to the application thread to get started.
Creating a custom Android theme from scratch can be quite the laborious task. In addition to designing, creating, and editing all the elements yourself, a testing phase is also essential to make sure that your theme is bug-free and working as it should. And unless you’re an absolute master at theming, chances are that you’ll need to rely on community feedback or an Android emulator in order to polish out those bugs.
XDA Forum Member steel89 offers an alternative approach to testing your custom themes. The solution comes in the form of an app called Theme Debugger. As its name suggests, the main function of this app is to expose any hidden bugs and other visual issues that may be present in your theme. It does this by presenting all the theme-able elements of the Android interface, ranging from buttons, radio and check buttons, to alert dialogs, toasts and notifications. Everything is then put in one place for you to test.
The app presents all the theme-able elements in a smooth and logical UI, with horizontally scrolling panels so you can quickly check for any visual discrepancies. And if you want to test another theme, you can do so at the navigation drawer which slides out from the left of the screen.
Both rookie and experienced themers alike will definitely find Theme Debugger to be a very useful app to have in their theming toolbox. If you would like to give this a go, visit the application thread for more information and download.
Some of you may think that writing code is the hardest part of development. It’s not, as the real fun starts when you have to debug an application or function. That’s why Android Debug Bridge is so important, and you can find images like this in many threads. And obviously, digging through thousands of logcat lines is every developer’s “favorite” activity.
Logcat likes to bombard users with more or less relevant information regarding various issues. To free yourself from mpdecision, thermal-engine and sensors.msm8960.so warnings, you should try out a script written by XDA Recognized Developer and Contributor broodplank1337. Lib Cleaner removes the specific lines of code from proprietary files with the Swiss File Knife tool, which replaces HEX strings and makes the code more readable. Those three files are not the only one that can be modified. It’s possible to add your own scripts and clean even more unnecessary code. The script is designed for Ubuntu-based destroys, and needs some editing to be used with Arch, Fedora, or other Linux branches.
If you are a developer or advanced user trying to find out what’s wrong with an application or newly added code, make your way to the original thread and give Lib Cleaner a try. Just keep in mind that Google added these lines forma purpose and removing them may result in unexpected behavior.