June 11, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
If you’re living with weather conditions as volatile as the American Northeast, you certainly know the value of checking the weather before leaving home. Unlike the few lucky enough to live in more temperate climates, those dealing with ever-changing weather patterns must make do by preparing ourselves before we step foot outside. However, despite the need, many of us (yours truly included) still forget to make this a part of the daily ritual. This is where an intelligent weather app comes in.
Thankfully, XDA Senior Member lupidapi has the solution with his newest app, Personal Weather Consultant. As one would expect from a weather app, PWC allows you to check the weather. However, the real beauty in this app is its ability to anticipate your needs so that you don’t have to manually check, and thus so you don’t forget. The features, as described by the developer:
Personal Weather Consultant features:
★ check your calendar and check the weather conditions of the place and at the time of the appointment.
★ monitors constantly your calendar and controls the insertion of the new events to be able to provide timely weather interested information.
★ wakes up with you: he synchronize with the alarm clock of your phone and makes sure that you give an eye to the weather before you leave home so you will not be surprised by sudden storms or in order to adopt the most suitable clothing.
★ set a favorite city for which you can check the weather regardless of the calendar appointments.
★ calculates the perceived temperature using the Wind Chill Index and the Heat Index (where possible to calculate them).
★ set the preferred units for speed and temperature
In other words, this app provides you with weather, temperature, humidity, wind, cloud cover and pressure before you ask for it. While apps such as Google Now can do that as well, this app takes it one step further by also checking your calendar to determine when you need to wake up given the current conditions.
Interested in giving this a shot on your own device? If so, head over to the original thread.
June 10, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
If you were waiting for S-Off to be available on the HTC One, your wait is over! That and more are covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is an article about NFC on your phone and news about Ubuntu Engineers answering your questions.
Jordan talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer Jayce released a video interviewing Gary Vaynerchuk and he follows it up with a video on tips and tricks for using Social Media for career advancement as a Software developer. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
There is certainly no shortage of replacement dialers for Android. However, one part of the equation that is often neglected for those not running an OEM-skinned version of Android is contact management. And while the stock option in the latest versions of Android isn’t lacking in any functionality, some additional variety is always nice—especially when it’s aesthetically appealing and features a gesture-driven interface.
Thankfully, XDA Forum Member orda2000 has the solution in the form of PureContact. This app allows you to manage your contacts and connect with them through the use of assignable gestures. Since the interface is gesture driven, it’s both faster and clutter free than one with more prominent actions. Currently, four actions can be defined, and these correspond with swiping up, down, left, and right.
In the words of the developer:
With PureContact you can contact your friends through the use of gestures (swipe up, swipe down, swipe left, swipe right) or through double tap.
Through these simple actions you can recall the whatsapp conversation with the selected contact, send text, write an email or call.
Just long press on blank screen and add your favourite contact. Then you can choose the default photo contact or select one in your gallery.
Pick up one numbers and one email (if the contact have more than one) and just press save.
Go to the settings menu and choose the actions for the swipe.
Now you can use gestures to send text, whatsapp, email or call.
What’s more, the developer has some interesting plans for future revisions such as the ability to update your social media networks directly from the app and a theme engine. But before these things can be done, all of the bugs have to be ironed out, so make sure to report any issues that you experience directly to the developer in the thread.
To get started, simply head over to the original thread. Better contact management is only a few steps away.
June 9, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
Just recently, XDA Developer TV Producer Jayce finished up his series on Job interviews. If you haven’t already, make sure you check out his resume tips, tips for dominating the phone screen, rocking the main interview, winning at salary negotiations, and not getting thrown off by the tough job interview questions. This week, Jayce talks about how software developers can use Social Media to promote themselves.
In today’s episode, Jayce talks about unique uses of social media to get people’s attention, as stated by Gary Vaynerchuk, a person who Jayce interviewed yesterday to Matthew Epstein, who tried to get Google’s attention. Jayce gives other examples as well. Find out what he has to say and check out this video.
Whether it be for storing music, videos, photos, development work, or even your various documents, we are now so dependent on our SD cards that if anything were to happen to them, the consequences would be devastating. It’s probably why we all have mini panic attacks every time a PC, phone, or tablet refuses to recognize them, leaving us scrambling for other devices to test with and anguish when they still don’t work.
So before you click that ‘new thread’ button in the Q&A section for your device, it might be advisable to check out XDA Senior Member Deftone‘s guide on SD card issues. It covers some of the most common ones that we have all experienced. Deftones briefly explains issues that may spawn from a corrupted SD card, dirty or scratched contacts (the gold ‘chips’ of the card), corrupt data, the thin and often fragile plastic casing of the card, and the ‘write lock’ switch on the side of the card. Deftone then suggest different fixes for these issues as well as precautions to avoid them from manifesting in the future.
While most of these may come off as extremely basic tips for most users, it’s important to keep in mind that there are issues that some may not have come across, which some have already remedied in some way or another. So before you rush out and format your SD card, make sure you try all you can to avoid your data from being erased.
If you would like to find out more, head over to the original thread for more information and further discussion.
With a more than a decade-old history, near field communication, better known as NFC, seems to have only just recently exploded onto the market, mass distributed with almost every new device since 2012 and onward. You now see ads marketing and exhibiting the ‘magic’ of this relatively old technology, exemplified with people merely touching their phones together to share photos, videos, documents and so on. But did you know that you aren’t limited to these specific use cases?
XDA Senior Member one5‘s surely knew, as a thread was created listing a plethora of items that can be scanned with your NFC-enabled device. These include credit cards, student IDs from various universities, passports of certain countries, public transport cards and tickets, rewards and member cards, as well as many other miscellaneous items, such as books from the ‘Les Champs Libres’ in France. Please be mindful however, that in many instances involving such listed items, particular apps or passwords are required, and some may even come up as unsupported or encrypted, depending on your locality and so forth.
Further discussion can be had in the thread regarding the introduction and implementation of NFC into the infrastructure of many countries and cities, and you may just pleasantly discover that your local train station or ATM is NFC enabled, giving you the perfect reason to whip out your phone and perform some ‘magic’ in front of onlookers and passersby.
So if this has gotten your attention, be sure to check out the original thread for more information.
The traditional way of flashing files onto your Android devices comes with a couple of downsides. If you want to do so manually, this involves connecting your device with a USB cable that you seemed to have lost only a couple of minutes ago. Then there’s the trial and error process that comes with testing new themes, mods, and ROMs. However, this can all be avoided simply with XDA Senior Member Prl91‘s RemoteFlash.
What RemoteFlash allows you to do is flash individual files from your PC straight onto your Android device, minus the cables and the hassle. It consists of 2 components: a standalone Java application serving as the PC client, and a simple APK for your Android. Requiring a reboot after APK installation, the app would then silently run in the background while the PC client auto-scans for your device to subsequently flash the selected file with the option of wiping /data and /cache. Keep in mind that both the PC and your device must be on the same WiFi network, and any other device with RemoteFlash installed on the network will have to disconnect for the scan to operate normally. Prl91 recommends a custom recovery using OpenRecoveryScript such as TWRP, although CWM may be usable depending on the build installed.
As of time of writing, Prl91 has not implemented MD5 checking for faulty file transfers, although there is a system in place that continuously monitors the streams of bytes going through the TCP socket stream. If a byte were to be dropped or the connection flickers, the client would immediately cancel the transfer from PC to your device. However, Prl91 is planning on implementing MD5 checking in the future.
Both the PC client and Android APK are free for download exclusively on the XDA Forums, and can be found, along with more information, in the application thread.
Android, as an operating system, is fairly unique in that it makes users aware of the permissions available to apps in a fairly transparent way. Compared to Blackberry or iOS, which issue granular prompts such as “Can Angry Birds access your location?” or “Can Instagram access your camera to take photos?” There is a somewhat subtle difference here: The rivals give the user a choice about these requests.
Jump over to Android where, after installing an app, it has free reign to use every permission you agreed to. While this doesn’t sound an issue, let’s take a look at the Play Store. Let’s look at a nice, popular app (for better or for worse): Facebook.
The Facebook app has permissions to:
Getting tired and out of breath yet? It’s not over yet though! Facebook can also:
What is perhaps most disconcerting is that while Google acknowledges openly the risks in each permission (I suggest you take a read at the detailed description of some of the permissions on a Play Store listing), the company takes no steps to help you with this. Thus, the entire Android ecosystem is built around you trusting the developer to play fair, and not do anything dodgy.
And while I might be unique in my recommendation (which I firmly believe is warranted in this day and age given recent information revealing the extent of mass surveillance that is ongoing) to trust nobody, not even yourself. For this reason, I suggest the Android permissions system is totally flawed, in relying on developers to not abuse permissions, and not request excessive permissions. How many torch apps on Android have more than the required camera permission (to enable the camera)? I’d suggest most do, feel free to take a look!
You’d think the Android community would rally against such behaviou, but it’s reached a point where it is acceptable for developers to declare a need for excessively gratuitous permissions in order to use their apps. What happened to user choice? I then was pointed towards this post on G+ by Steve Kondik (XDA Recognized Developer cyanogen), which I read with much dismay. While I do not use G+ (closed platform, requiring far too much data to be disclosed to Google), I would suggest that with respect, the need for user privacy and security MUST come first, as it’s clear app developers cannot “do” security.
Perhaps if Google introduced zero tolerance for moronic errors in security (plaintext passwords, gathering contacts data, obtaining device IDs that are not hashed suitably with a cryptographic hash etc), it might offer an incentive to consider security? Given many users (wrongly) reuse passwords between services, the sending of plaintext passwords should be sufficient, in this author’s opinion, to justify immediate removal of all of a developer’s apps from the Play Store, forever.
Some people just don’t know how to do security. And for them, I sigh. Users deserve security, and privacy, and unless you go ahead and look at the OpenPDroid project on XDA (which I strongly suggest you check out), you are pretty much being abandoned by even the leader of CyanogenMod. While I appreciate his concerns for app developers, it is simply inexcusable to not look into fixing the glaring hole that is contacts access. This is 2013, the era of social engineering, and I cannot choose selectively which apps see which contacts in my address book? REALLY?
Something needs to happen here, before people wake up and smell the coffee, and realize this isn’t sustainable. It’s time users became more aware about what apps are doing, and the extent of data mining that is ongoing. It’s your data, and it should be entirely your choice who gets it.
You shouldn’t have to avoid an app because you don’t like the look of its permissions; you should be able to (whether as stock Google feature, or custom ROM feature) be able to selectively decline to allow an app to access your data. And this should be done gracefully, either providing empty data (for contacts, or similar), or null data (i.e. requesting phone number or IMEI should return the same response as a tablet lacking these identifiers).
Is it right to deny your users the choice, to make life “easier” for app developers? (arguably to allow them to capture user data more easily) I argue it’s not, and it’s time the Android community unites to put an end to apps having free reign over YOUR data. If this concerns you, why not check out the aforementioned OpenPDroid (and similar) projects on XDA, and see if you can help out, or test, or contribute to the cause?
Home screen decoration has become somewhat of an art, especially within the Android community. It’s one of the reasons why we have ‘Show your screenshots’ threads in almost every device’s forum. So what’s part of the repertoire? Widgets, custom icons, the mise en scène of these elements, and most importantly, the wallpaper.
So with this in mind, treat yourself and your artistic side with these spectacular 3D live wallpapers developed by XDA Forum Member keaukraine, which are fully interactive and dynamic in nature. Personal standouts from the collection include:
Other wallpapers include a cruising sports car on a highway, a 3D red rose, and melting candles. They are compatible in both landscape and portrait mode, and with each 3D live wallpaper, the object of focus can be rotated with swipes of your finger. For some, the scene can be tilted up and down if toggled in the settings.
All these wallpapers are free from the Play store and are compatible with Android devices running Froyo and newer. So if you’re looking for ways to ‘snazz up’ your home screen, be sure to check out the original thread for more information and demonstrations.
June 7, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
A “top secret” court order forces Verizon to hand over your call data. That and more are covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is an article about leaving Google Apps and news about the Sony Xperia Tablet Z contest.
Jordan talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer TK gave us video on Installing OTAs with Root, Steve shows us how to root the HTC One and TK does an App Review of Greenify. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
Ok, let’s face it. Lolcat link-containing SMSes aside, messages from some of your high-priority contacts are simply more important that from others. And yes, while we all enjoy hearing the latest gossip from that acquaintance who thinks that you are buddy-buddy, you don’t really want to hear about this at 2 AM, when you have to go to work then next day.
It is with this in mind that XDA Forum Member mivza created TeXTe Emergency SMS. So how does it work? You predefine a code word and give it to a few contacts you trust. Then, if they send you an SMS that contains the magic word, a loud alarm will sound, alerting you even if your phone is muted.
The best part is that since the app doesn’t rely on any particular sender phone number, but rather a code word, it will work if anyone with the code word sends a text. This could be extremely useful if, let’s say, your emergency contact happens to run out of battery but is able to find another phone to message you from.
In the words of the developer:
TeXTe (Sounds like texti) is a very simple and straightforward emergency SMS app.
With TeXTe you can set-up a code word that will start a high volume alarm sound whenever someone who knows the code word will send it to you via SMS .
So in case of an emergency, your : husband / wife / son / daughter / friend / pet.
Can send you a text message containing the code word and get your immediate attention, even if you are in a meeting with your phone on silent mode, or you just forgot your phone on vibrate…
If you value your sleep, and would like to bestow certain contacts with the ability to alert you in the event of an emergency, I can think of no reason why you wouldn’t want to give this a shot. To get started, all you have to do is visit the application thread. While you’re at it, be sure to leave some feedback for the developer, especially if you’re using a third-party SMS app!
Do you enjoy watching the news? Don’t you wish your social media experience was a bit more like what you see every morning on C-SPAN? No? Maybe that’s just me? Oh well.
For those who actually do enjoy watching the news or for anyone simply looking for a novel way of viewing social media updates, XDA Forum Member Cellcrowd created Social Flash. This app aggregates your latest social media updates into periodic news flashes that can be viewed like you would view the news—except only slightly more depressing.
The features, as described by the app’s developer:
- 3 different skins: silent, classic and modern
- exclude content by specific friends from being featured in an episode
- filter item types (status update, tagged in photo, etc.)
- get notified 5 minutes before the start of an episode
- share a watched message on Facebook
- set item count and duration to influence an episode’s total duration
To get started, head over to the application thread. As you would expect, you need a Facebook account to use the app. While this may not exactly revolutionize the way you interact with those in your social circles, it’ll make it a whole lot more entertaining!
I was really excited back in April when I heard about a list of open source Android apps that could be used for learning. Here’s an app that will go hand in hand with that kind of resource. XDA Junior Member DesarrolloDroide has been hard at work on “Libraries for Developers.” It’s an app that features a wide range of libraries, presenting them by category and including demonstrations of what they have to offer.
The main categories include Widgets, Menus, Popups, ActionBar, Animations, and several others. Clicking into each one provides the title of the related library along with a brief description of what it does. Clicking through to the summary screen provides the name, a longer description, and the location of the source code. It is here that you can see the name of the developer which links to his or her webpage (I think this is a nice touch). The license used by the library is also displayed with a link to the full text so that you can decide if its terms suit your needs.
This is also where you can access several demonstrations for each package. I tried out a couple dozen and they all worked perfectly for me. This turns out to be a huge boon for larger libraries like Actionbar Sherlock, which have a ton of different features. I also found it to be a great way to tune libraries that have many parameters, like FlipImageView. If you’re trying to figure out how to get the UI to do some tricks changes are the answer will be found faster by browsing this app.