April 4, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
Android 4.4.2 KitKat for the Sprint LG G2 is rolling out! That and much more news is covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is the how HTC made kernel source available for the One M8 and how Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8.1 with Cortana and Action Center! That’s not all that’s covered in today’s video!
Jordan also talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer TK released an Xposed Tuesday video for Cool Tool. Jordan then reviewed the Mad Catz M.O.J.O. Finally, TK gave us an Android App Review of Live Weather. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
Having your phone stolen or lost is never a happy event. But if and when something like this does occur, it helps to have your IMEI handy so that you can help your local law enforcement in their retrieval process. However, your IMEI may not always be readily available, as you may need to locate some device documentation that’s difficult to access while on the go or if you’re away from home. Luckily, there’s a way to retrieve the IMEI code from your lost or stolen device with a simple SMS message.
This is where an application by XDA Senior Member hsay comes into play. This simple application can send your IMEI number via SMS when a specified code reaches the lost or stolen device. You can easily set a backup number and a code that will trigger the IMEI to be sent to your spare phone or friends/family. Then with the IMEI known, you will be better prepared to retrieve your device. The application should work on every phone running Android 2.1 and newer.
More information can be found by visiting the application thread. While we hope none of us will ever need this app, we should always be prepared for when bad things occur.
April 3, 2014 By: eagleeyetom
Privacy is an important topic in Android and mobile computing in general. Since its initial release, Google has implemented a few different ways of securing one’s device. But even now with face unlock and certain devices featuring fingerprint readers, the time-tested PIN and unlock patterns are still arguably the most popular. But the main disadvantage of these two methods is that prying eyes can easily see the code you are entering, compromising your data in the process.
If you care about your privacy as you should, an Xposed Framework module by XDA Senior Member elesbb may be up your alley. A single pattern, PIN, or password may be easy to remember, but remembering three patterns is a bit more tricky. This module siwtches between patterns, PINs, or passwords cyclically to enhance security and prevent people from accessing your data. Since it’s Xposed module, you must be rooted and have Xposed Framework installed.
To up your device security, head over to the module thread and give Cyclic Lock a try.
When you hear the word “Android,” you almost automatically associate this with smartphones and tablets baked in top secret Mountain View labs. However, Android isn’t only compatible with the ARM architecture. Rather, it also works with x86 personal computers like netbooks, notebooks, and traditional computers. This is of course thanks to the Android x86 project.
If you’ve ever wanted to try Android on your computer, there’s no better time than the present. Earlier today, we talked about how the Android on Intel project had been updated to Android 4.4.2 and how it was now available for the Dell XPS12 and Intel NUC. But what if you’re running other hardware? How do you get started with Android x86?
To solve all of your potential setup issues, XDA Senior Member F4uzan wrote a guide covering the installation process. With a few simple steps, your device will turn into powerful beast running the latest version of Android. You can easily set up Android as a secondary OS, and it doesn’t even need much hardware power, so it can be used successfully even on older PCs. Furthermore, the guide also covers using Unetbootin to turn your USB stick into an installation volume. If your machine doesn’t support booting from USB, you can use CD-R.
You can learn more about setting up Android x86 flavor by visiting the guide thread.
April 3, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
If you want to get updates about the weather, there are many apps that can help. Some people even like to know the weather in other parts of the world to see what their friends and families are experiencing. But what if you have a dream of being a weatherman? What application gives you a national weather map?
XDA Senior Member sylsau offers up an application that gives you more than just the temperate, it gives you a national weather map. In this video, XDA Developer TV Producer TK reviews Live Weather. TK shows off the application and gives his thoughts, so check out this app review.
April 2, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Earlier today, we saw Google release rather substantial updates to its Google Keep and Google Play Movies first-party Android apps as part of its now routine Update Wednesday. However, we were perhaps a bit too hasty to assume that El Goog was done for the day. Now, they’ve begun rolling out an update to Google Play Newsstand.
Today’s update brings Newsstand version 3.2.0, and it ushers in several useful new features. First, the “Read Now” screen now features mini-cards that show more headlines on screen at any given time. Swiping horizontally while in this view changes your view category. Next, “My Library” now combines News and Magazines for easier browsing. And just like in the “Read Now” view, you can switch between them by swiping horizontally. Finally, and perhaps the most noticeable tweak, the actionbar has been given a shiny new blue color to match the app’s overall theme. This color then changes when you switch between categories in the “Read Now” view.
Just like today’s earlier app updates, Google Play Newsstand 3.2.0 is currently being delivered in the form of a staged rollout. But if you wish to get in on the update before your time, we’ve gone ahead and mirrored the update on our DevHost account for your sideloading pleasure.
[Thanks once again to kautionwirez for the APK!]
April 2, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Looks like we have ourselves another Google Update Wednesday, folks. Last Google Update Wednesday brought us personalized keyboard suggestions and improved voice search commands. Now, Google has issued significant updates to its Google Keep and Google Play Movies Android apps.
First up, we have Google Keep 2.2. Today’s update brings several important features. However, the biggest addition is undoubtedly optical character recognition for note searches. With Keep 2.2, you are now able to search for printed text within your notes’ photos. Checklists were given a facelift allowing users to set where new and checked items go, and the app finally has a “trash” folder for deleted notes. Finally, the UI was given a little bit of a facelift. In the app’s main menu, the actionbar is now yellow. And when entering a note, the actionbar then changes to match the color of the note.
Next up, we have Google Play Movies 3.1. The biggest change in today’s update is a dramatically improved video seek paradigm. With today’s update, you can swipe left and right in a video to seek backward and forward in 10-second intervals. You can also drag across the screen to scrub with greater precision.
These updates are currently making their way to devices in the form of a staged rollout. As such, your device may not receive the updated apps immediately. However, we’ve gone ahead and mirrored these on our Dev-Host account for those who want to get in on the update action a bit early. You can get in on the sideloading action by visiting the links below:
[Many thanks to kautionwirez for the tip and APKs!]
Recently, Google has been acquiring various companies to possibly expand the reach of the Android platform beyond just mobile devices and tablets. With the announcement of Android Wear, Google is creating a standard for wearables like smartwatches. And perhaps with less fanfare, Google is expanding into set-top gaming Android with their purchase of Green Throttle Games. However, don’t think that Google is blazing the trail in these areas! They are just widening the road. Smartwatches like the Samsung Galaxy Gear and the Omate Truesmart were among the pioneers in that arena. Similarly, the OUYA and Nvidia Shield wielded their machetes to slice a path through the Android Gaming forest.
While the OUYA is an Android Gaming device mostly in spirit due to it having its own customized overlay and its own proprietary store, the Nvidia Shield was perhaps the device with the biggest impact in creating this market. But now, there is another device available for you to choose from: the Mad Catz M.O.J.O. It comes in at $199 and gives you access to the Google Play Store. Recently, it was announced that OUYA would make its “experience” available on other hardware, and the M.O.J.O. was announced to be one of the first supported devices.
I was lucky enough to get my hands on one to test it out, as was XDA Developer TV Producer Jordan. To see my thoughts on the device keep reading, and check out the video below to see Jordan’s take.
April 2, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Now we’re talking! And no, this isn’t an April Fool’s Prank. For the first time since Android 4.4 KitKat was launched back in late October of last year, we’re finally seeing some significant adoption for Google’s latest and greatest. Let’s take a closer look at the numbers, shall we?
When we talked about Android’s platform distribution numbers early last month, KitKat was running on 2.5% of devices with access to Google Play Services. While this was a significant proportional rise from February’s 1.8%, the total number still remained quite low. Blame OEM’s, carriers, or even Tom Cruise, but the unfortunate reality of Android is that mass market devices will lag behind Google’s Nexus lineup.
But this past month, something changed. KitKat is now on 5.3% of devices with access to Google Play Services, which is more than double what we had last month. Not only is this a bigger jump numerically, but it’s also a proportionally larger leap. This shouldn’t really come as too much of a surprise, however, as various large OEMs such as Samsung, HTC, and LG have been issuing KitKat OTAs to their previous generation flagship and midrange devices.
Now let’s take a look at the rest of the numbers. Last month, we saw that Jelly Bean was approximately the same as it was the month before, hovering at around 62%. This month is no different, as it has only dipped slightly to 61.4%. Similarly, ICS went from 15.2% to 14.3%. But the biggest “loser” this month was Android 2.x, which went from a combined 20.2% to 18.9%. OK, so this isn’t exactly an Earth-shattering change, but it’s progress.
It’s great to see KitKat on the rise, as the whole developer ecosystem benefits from users being on recent versions of Android. And in the coming months, as products announced at this year’s MWC start making their way into more consumer hands, this will only continue to rise. Here’s hoping that we break 10% by next month!
[Source: Android Developer Dashboard]
The importance of an optimized toolchain is one of the hottest topics in the Android dev world. Many of you might have heard about GCC and Linaro, which are the two biggest projects of this type. GCC is an old hand that was initially releases in 1987, while Linaro is a relatively young player at only four years old.
Let’s first dive into the history of these two projects. As I said earlier, GNU Compiler Collection is old. Over the years, it has been used to compile various projects, including Android. Google decided to use versions 4.6 and 4.7 as their default toolchains, and I would like to focus on version 4.7 in this series of tests.
Linaro was launched in 2010, and it’s been optimized for ARM architectures. And of course, ARM is used in the vast majority of Android-powered smartphones and tablets. You can find Linaro as a toolchain used to compile kernels or whole ROMs, and many developers claim this toolchain is faster and more powerful than GCC.
Inspired by our Developer Admin Pulser_G2, I decided to give this myth a shot and see whether these claims are real. To do this, I first downloaded the AOSP source. I built an aosp_mako-eng target for my Nexus 4 using the default set of prebuilts from Google. After make otapackage, I got 183115481-byte zip file ready to flash. After, I downloaded the Linaro 4.7.4 toolchain and replaced GCC in prebuilts/gcc/linux-86. I performed the necessary changes to set level O3 of optimization. As AOSP supports only prebuilt kernels (without modifications), I built a kernel on my own with Linaro and replaced the kernel in mako-kernel with my own blob.
Below you can see the two resultant archives. As you can see, the Linaro archive is slightly bigger, so this toolchain actually does something to bin and xbin folders. The kernel file itself is also bigger.
But the file size is not the most important thing. Instead, let’s focus on performance. To measure this, I used AnTuTu benchmark. For increased precision, I ran each test three times. As you can see below, the difference is quite big. However, I wouldn’t put too much blind faith in these tests, as the results differed on every test. That said, Linaro was few points better than GCC—but AnTuTu is not that reliable as you may think.
The following tests were performed with 3DMark to see if a toolchain can impact graphics performance. The difference was even more significant than with Antutu. You may gain few FPS with GCC, but overall smoothness is better with Linaro. The score is also a bit higher.
The final test was run using the game Asphalt 8: Airborne. Below you can see two videos of the game running on both toolchains. The first was made with Linaro, while second with GCC. Personally, I think that Linaro feels a bit smoother than GCC, but that may just be the placebo effect since this was not a double-blind test. Both kernels were stock and free from tweaks, overclocking, and any other fancy tweaks to improve the performance.
So is Linaro Better?
Although I was skeptical at first, I must admit that Linaro seems to be a better choice than GCC—at least on my hardware configuration. The OS felt more responsive and faster than when it was built using GCC. However, GCC is still rock solid, so if you require ultimate stability, it may still be the best choice.
In the next episodes, I will try to compare other toolchains such as SaberMod and Linaro 4.8. Please let us know about your favorite toolchains in the comments below. And if you would like us to test any other toolchains, please say so!
April 1, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Storing your music library in the Google Play Music cloud is incredibly convenient. Not only does this allow you to access your music from any web-connected computer, but doing so also lets you free up valuable storage space on your device. However, accessing the Google Play Music Cloud Streaming always meant using the official Google Play Music app or webapp—until now.
You can now access the Google Play Music cloud from nearly any third-party Android music player. Sourcery, you say? Not if you have a rooted device and are running GMusicFS by XDA Senior Member bubbleguuum. GMusicFS works by mounting the Play Music cloud as a FUSE filesystem. And because of this, the music stored on Google’s cloud appears like any standard file that can be played.
Unfortunately, this won’t exactly work on every device, every ROM, or every aftermarket media player. For starters, you need to be on a rooted device running Android 4.0+ on an ARM CPU. You also need to have SuperSU or Superuser installed, as well as a compatible music player. So far, Poweramp, Winamp, PlayerPro, and N7player are verified working. However, other players such as Deadbeef and XenoAmp won’t work with GMusicFS.
If you’ve wanted to access the Google Play Music cloud without using the official Google Play Music app, head over to the original thread and give this a shot.
April 1, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
XDA members are definitely Gadget Geeks. Some of us have such a heavy obsession that we spend days toiling away to get that extra 1% battery savings or free memory. When you are spending that much time tweaking your device, you want to know some serious stats and you want to know now!
In this episode of XDA Xposed Tuesday, XDA Developer TV Producer TK reviews an Xposed Module that allows you see your CPU usage, free memory, and more all on your home screen. XDA Forum Member deviantstudio created the Cool Tool App and Xposed Module. TK shows off the module and gives his thoughts, so check out this Xposed Tuesday video.
March 31, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Ported apps are inherently fun. While shoehorning the Galaxy S 5′s stock app suite onto your two-year-old Galaxy S III won’t magically turn your aging device into Samsung’s latest and greatest, doing so allows you to experience some of the “exclusive” features that newer devices have to offer. Because of that, we frequently see quite a lot of work done here on the XDA forums to port OEM apps and other goodies to older devices.
So where do you find these mythical ported apps? Well you could pretend you’re playing Pokémon and try to catch them all by manually searching every section here on XDA—or you could visit XDA Senior Member tp2215‘s Definitive Ported Apps Directory.
Inside tp2215′s thread, you’ll find apps ported from the HTC One M8, Nokia X, Nexus 5, Galaxy S 5, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy Tab Pro, Nvidia Shield, Xperia Z2, Moto X, LG G2, Archos, and Google Glass—and these are just the current generation devices, as there’s another section for ports from older devices. The thread also houses a list of carrier-specific app ports, as well as ports from certain popular ROMs, and simulated Windows Phone 8 and iOS7 apps.
If you’ve got a case of device envy and wish to add some additional goodies to your smartphone, head over to the original thread and load some ported apps!