December 5, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
No, it’s not Android 4.4 KitKat, but it’s a step in the right direction—one that was started a little over a month ago. You may remember that not too long ago Samsung pulled the Android 4.3 that was rolling out to the International Galaxy S III. This was the same XXUGMMJ9 firmware that was initially shared as a leaked build, and then became official two days later. Unfortunately, the previous build had quite a few bugs, including wake up lag, random freezing, battery drain, Bluetooth audio issues, stuttering music playback, freezes, poor multitasking, and WiFi issues. In other words, it was a clear demonstration of Murphy’s Law.
Now, the next chapter in the Android 4.3 update saga for the Galaxy S III is here, thanks to the new XXUGMK6 update for the device. The update brings several key improvements such as reduced lag, camera enhancements, improved battery life, and support for Galaxy Gear. And for those wondering, just like the previous official XXUGMJ9 build, this appears to not feature Samsung’s KNOX technology.
The update should arrive OTA to stock devices, but it can also be manually installed via Kies. To learn more, visit the Android 4.3 Discussion Thread for the Galaxy S III. The fun starts around page 181, with users sharing their (largely positive) experiences with the new firmware.
[Photo courtesy of Neil Carless on Facebook]
November 28, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Remember how AT&T pulled the Android 4.3 update for the AT&T variant of the Galaxy S 4 (I337) a couple of weeks ago? While there was no official word as to why, many users speculated that the same issues facing the international SGS3′s 4.3 update were plaguing the AT&T S 4. These included issues such as wake up lag, random freezing, battery drain, Bluetooth audio issues, stuttering music playback, freezes, poor multitasking, and WiFi issues.
Thankfully, it appears as if the issues have been resolved and the OTA is rolling out once again. This time, with a new version number. Rather than the previously available Android 4.3 I337UCUEMJ9 build, today’s update comes in at I337UCUEMK2.
In case you haven’t received your update already, you’re in luck, as these builds have since been mirrored for your sideloading pleasure. Naturally, there are two incremental OTAs available: one for users on the previous 4.3 build (MK2) and one for users on the latest 4.2.
XDA Forum Member mqlin went ahead and mirrored the update for those already running the previous Android 4.3 OTA for the device (MJ9). This is a small, 28 MB update to take you all the way to MK2. And if you’re running the older build, XDA Forum Member pvtolson has you covered with the full 727 MB update.
If you’ve already gotten the update, please feel free to leave your feedback in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to join in the discussion over in the AT&T Galaxy S 4 forum!
November 26, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
No, it’s not Android 4.4 KitKat, but at least it’s a small step in the right direction. We’ve gotten word that the Android 4.3 update is now rolling out to the T-Mobile variant of the Galaxy S 4. This comes nearly an entire month after we saw the same update roll out to the Verizon model.
The rollout was first discovered by XDA Senior Member macaumen, who shared shared screenshots and installation details for the new update. Not too long after, the update was then pulled and mirrored by the fine folks over at Sammobile. Thankfully, XDA Senior Member omnifarious located and shared the link for others to jump into the update party a bit early. Alternatively, the update can be downloaded manually through Kies. Instructions on how to do that can be found in the T-Mobile link below.
As seen in previous Android 4.3 builds for most modern Samsung devices, this M919UVUEMK2 build features KNOX, as well as various other updates and tweaks. More information on the update can be found on T-Mobile’s Update Support Page.
What are your thoughts on the timing of this update? Are you upset that Verizon’s update 4.3 update came nearly a month earlier? Let us know in the comments below, and get in on the discussion over at the T-Mobile Galaxy S 4 forums.
November 25, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Two days ago, we wrote about how the Sprint Samsung Galaxy S III was finally receiving its update to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. While the Moto X and the current fleet of Nexus devices have already received updates to Android 4.4 KitKat, any step forward is a step in the right direction, even if it is still one step behind.
Unfortunately for Sprint SGS3 owners, the officially released 4.3 build also brought with it Samsung’s KNOX technology. Thankfully, XDA Recognized Contributor CNexus was quick to modify the stock 4.3 MK3 ROM to remove KNOX and deliver it pre-rooted for those looking to save themselves from the hassle of doing it manually.
The ROM is available in Odexed and Deodexed form. The Deodexed ROM is rooted, and there are both rooted and unrooted options for the Odexed ROM (unrooted will be ready for download soon). After flashing through a custom recovery, flash the WiFi fix and KNOX remover. One thing of note is that installing the WiFi fix currently breaks screen rotation, but this is currently being worked on.
If you were holding off on the 4.3 update for your Sprint SGS3 because of KNOX, make your way over to the original thread to get started with this KNOX-free near-stock build.
[Many thanks to Senior Moderator kennyglass123 for the tip!]
Android is six years old now. One week ago, we presented the first part of the Android story. Now, it’s time to continue the journey.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away—located in Mountain View, the first version of the operating system dedicated for tablets was born. Google called it 3. 0 Honeycomb and presented it alongside the Motorola Xoom.
November 23, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
A few days ago, we covered the release of Android 4.3 Jelly Bean for the international Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE N7105. We immediately began to wonder when 4.3 update would make its way to some of the more popular carrier-branded variants.
Now, it appears as if that time is here, as Sprint has begun the Android 4.3 rollout for the Sprint Samsung Galaxy Note II. As this appears to be a staged rollout, not everyone will see the update when checking manually. However, XDA Senior Member npesa92 was gracious enough to pull the update from his /cache folder and upload it for everyone to enjoy.
The update comes in at version LP900VPUBMK4, and it is in the form of an incremental update from the previous LP900VPUBMC2 build. And as you may gather from the build version, this will only work on the Sprint-branded Galaxy Note II (SPH-L900). And naturally, you must be on stock firmware and recovery to flash this.
To get in on the update action a bit early, head over to the original thread.
November 20, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
With so much Android 4.4 KitKat news stirring about, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that other versions of the OS do indeed exist. That said, most devices other than the current Nexus lineup and certain Moto X variants haven’t yet received the 4.4 goods in official capacity. Moreover, most end-user devices haven’t even been updated to Android 4.3.
Thankfully, the AT&T and T-Mobile carrier-branded versions of the Galaxy S III are soon to receive the Android 4.3 goods. While it’s not KitKat, at least it’s a step in the right direction. The update for the AT&T Galaxy S III (I737) comes in at version I747UCUEMJB, while the update for the T-Mobile Galaxy S III (T999) comes in at version T999UVUEMJC. So far, a few users in the forums have reported already receiving the OTA on the AT&T device.
Thankfully for AT&T SGS3 owners who haven’t yet received the update, XDA Recognized Developer loserskater has taken the incremental update from his device and mirrored it. Naturally since it’s an incremental update, you need to be on stock 4.1.2 for this to work.
You can learn more about the update for the AT&T device in this post and this thread. To update the AT&T device before you receive the OTA, head over to this post. And if you’ve got the T-Mobile device, more information about updating manually via Kies can be found on T-Mobile’s support site.
November 20, 2013 By: eagleeyetom
The launch of the Sony Xperia Z1 was a major success. This device has high end specifications and an extremely impressive camera, which made it quite popular among XDA forum members. In addition to its hardware specs, it also packs the very good looking Timescape UI.
The Honami, which is the codename for Sony’s latest flagship, brought a lot of firmware improvements that have made the UI eye-catching. Many forum members agree, and have come to enjoy the overall look. However, not everything is ideal, and some fonts in Google account settings are displayed in a less than ideal color.
XDA Recognized Developer niaboc79 looked into this, and found that the color is hard coded in smali rather than the more common XML. Niaboc79 decided to share his knowledge and wrote a guide on how to change the color to black to make it more aesthetic. He was kind enough to post the smali code, so changing those values won’t be a big challenge. This technique uses reverse engineering, so APK Tool or some applications like VTS will be required. Of course, your device must be rooted to get the Settings.apk and push it back using the ADB protocol.
If you own a Sony device and are using a Honami-styled ROM, head over to the tutorial thread to learn how to fix the font color!
November 19, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Samsung has had a relatively good track record as of late for providing (relatively) timely Android firmware updates. Most relatively recent flagship-level Samsung devices have already received official updates to the final version of Jelly Bean (Android 4.3), and this is no small feat considering the level of customization in their TouchWiz UI.
New to the 4.3 party, the the iconic Galaxy Note II LTE N7105 now has an official Android 4.3 update of its own. And for those keeping track, this comes a few weeks after the leaked 4.3 XXUEMJ5 build for the N7100, which has now since been superseded by the XXUEMK4 update. Originally intended for Nordic countries, this new build for the N7105 comes in at version XXUEMK5. While it is available via OTA and Kies, you can also install the update manually.
However, not all is well in Samsung 4.3 land. Namely, the official updates for the international Galaxy S III I9300 and AT&T variant of the Galaxy S 4 I337 are being temporarily suspended. Those who care to rewind a few weeks will remember the official 4.3 build for the S III is the same firmware that was previously leaked almost three weeks ago.
The causes for the update pull on the S III include wake up lag, random freezing, battery drain, Bluetooth audio issues, stuttering music playback, freezes, poor multitasking, and WiFi issues. Basically, what can go wrong, has gone wrong. On the other hand, there is no official word as to why the update was pulled on the AT&T variant of the S 4, but we can only assume that the device is facing similar issues.
If you’re an S III owner who has already installed the update, what have your experiences been like so far? Let us know in the comments below.
November 18, 2013 By: eagleeyetom
This past February, XDA opened a forum for smartwatches. These strange, yet amazing devices are watches that run Android. And let’s face it; it was only a matter of time before custom ROMs started appearing for them.
One of latest smartwatchers is the recently released Samsung Galaxy Gear. Now, XDA Senior Member fOmey created the first functional custom ROM for the device. It’s based on MK7 stock ROM, and has lots of customization. I must express my amusement when I saw this thread for the first time. Previously, I didn’t think that a watch could even have a custom ROM. XDA proved me wrong once again.
The ROM is rooted and deodexed, and contains several improvements to enhance the overall user experience. A lot of great work has been done to by the developer to make this ROM almost bug free. FOmey described the installation procedure and even made a video with instructions on how to enter download mode on the Galaxy Gear.
If you have a Samsung Galaxy Gear and want to try something new, you should visit the ROM thread and give this release a try.
When the HTC Sensation was released about two and a half years ago, it was certainly quite the high-end device. It featured a dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon S3 processor, a then-impressive 4.3″ qHD panel featuring S-LCD technology, and three quarters of a gig of RAM—you know, for when half a gig isn’t enough and a full gig is costly overkill. In all seriousness, though, the Sensation was a
sensational great device, but it has since been eclipsed by a couple generations of newer flagships from the Taiwanese company.
As expected, the first-party OEM love gradually faded away once the One X and One entered the picture. Accordingly, official upgrade support for the device topped out at Android 4.0 and Sense 3.6. Over the past few months, however, we’ve seen plenty of ROMs pop up that bring renewed life to the Sensation. And now, there is a nearly fully functional Android 4.1.2-based Sense 5 build courtesy of XDA Forum Members ivicask, SebastianFM, m0narx, and dominos_liberty.
The build is somewhat of a work in progress at the moment. The basic functionality appears to work just fine, and many users are reporting that in their experience, the ROM is both smooth and incredibly stable. However, some of the more esoteric features are not yet working. For example, the camera’s burst mode can only take two pictures in a row. Similarly, panorama mode only takes one picture and stops. Furthermore, the Venom ROM-specific tweaks have not yet been implemented by the team. Barring these issues, however, this ROM seems to work quite well for the most part.
Make your way over to the ROM thread to get started
[Image courtesy of XDA Senior Member hunt. Many thanks to everyone who sent this in.]
November 13, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Google just released an update to its official Google Search Android app, and it’s a big one! At face value and on most devices, it brings a few nice features and new cards. However, the update packs a whole lot more, provided that you’re willing to install an additional APK to unlock it.
The advertized changes detailed on the official Android Google+ page state that there are three new cards: a website update card to bring you blog post updates, a news topic card to show you articles from around the web, and a what to watch card for movie and TV show recommendations. The update also brings Waze traffic incident data about your daily commute, repeatable reminders, rugby sports data, and in-store pickup package data. Furthermore, users not on KitKat also get to enjoy a slightly refreshed UI that brings in some of the buttons previously found only on the KitKat launcher’s Google Search page.
However, that’s only scratching the surface. The latest Search update also brings the previously covered Google Experience Launcher from KitKat to all devices. However, while the launcher code is now present within the Google Search app, an additional APK is still needed to access the launcher functionality. Luckily, the required GoogleHome.apk file is readily available. And now with the latest Google Search update, the launcher looks right at home with any device capable of running the latest version of Google Search (Android 4.1 and above).
Make your way over to the Google Play Store entry to make sure you are running the latest version of Google Search. And if you’re after the launcher as well, be sure to head over to the previously covered KitKat launcher thread or the APK at the bottom of this previous AndroidPolice post and install GoogleHome.apk. Obviously, for this to work, you need to be on the latest version of Google Search, which hasn’t rolled out to everyone yet. To make sure you are on the latest version, hit up the AndroidPolice via link.
Update: Apparently, even with the correct GoogleHome.apk and the latest version of search, some users are still not able to use the Google Experience launcher. Luckily, XDA Forum Member rwSN1PER was able to find a solution by copying the libgoogle_recognizer_jni_l.so file from this thread into the /system/lib directory. In his words:
In this thread http://forum.xda-developers.co… there is a zip file with apps pulled from the Nexus 5. If your device is rooted copy the libgoogle_recognizer_jni_l.so file in the lib folder located in the system directory, This fixed the problem on my Galaxy S4.
Along with the various user-facing features added in Android 4.4 KitKat, Google significantly bolstered the overall security of the platform with a number of key changes. Among other things, one of the key changes related to SELinux, which was previously introduced in Android 4.3. Android 4.4, however, shifted the SELinux status from Permissive to Enforce Mode.
To quote our security expert Pulser_G2 on the matter:
SELinux in Enforce Mode
In Android 4.4, SELinux has moved from running in permissive mode (which simply logs failures), into enforcing mode. SELinux, which was introduced in Android 4.3, is a mandatory access control system built into the Linux kernel, in order to help enforce the existing access control rights (i.e.permissions), and to attempt to prevent privilege escalation attacks (i.e. an app trying to gain root access on your device).
While this is largely a good thing for the general population, this security enhancement hasn’t been without its own share of issues. For example, it has broken some root-enabled applications such as the previously covered Ultimate Dynamic Navbar.
In order to allow users to easily toggle between SELinux modes, XDA Senior Member MrBIMC created the aptly titled SELinuxModeChanger app. The application (obviously) requires root access. Once given, the app allows you to toggle the SELinux status with but a single click. Once you’ve made your choice, a script will execute on boot to change the mode to what you have selected.
Naturally, the app only works on devices with SELinux. In other words, this is only meant for devices running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean or 4.4 KitKat. Of note, however, this does not yet work with Samsung KNOX-enabled devices. However, this is currently being worked on.
If you wish to easily change your SELinux mode and you’re not running a KNOX-enabled ROM, make your way over to the application thread and give this app a try.