February 9, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
By now, you’ve no doubt heard of Paranoid Android. In fact, there’s a good chance that if you own the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 7, or Nexus 10; you’re either running the ROM yourself or you’ve given it a try in the past.
For the few unfamiliar, Paranoid Android’s defining characteristic is what they call Hybrid Engine. Contrary to what many believe, this is not “tablet mode,” though that is one of many things that can be accomplished using Hybrid Engine. Rather, Hybrid Engine allows you to select both dpi and layout on a per-app basis. Rather than being forced to modify the look of your entire device, you can optimize your applications to what works best for each and every one.
A new and important feature that has come to light in the recent beta builds, and now sees light in the official release of PA3 is the PIE control system. What this allows one to do is to disable onscreen buttons and use a swipe gesture to access various common functions, thereby freeing up valuable screen real estate. The menu can be seen in the header image above, as well as the video below.
Per-app color, another significant feature in PA3 and recent pre-release builds, allows you set system UI colors on a per-app basis. Want a black system bar for your launcher, but a blue one for Facebook? No problem. Have more eccentric choices in mind? That’s fine too.
The most recent (and most specific) addition is screen calibration for the Google Nexus 4. While the vast majority of third-party reviews have praised the device for its screen, build quality, responsiveness, and overall value; some have been quick to point out that the screen seems under-saturated, especially to those coming from overly saturated S-AMOLED devices. Rather than trying to offer a simple band-aid solution with RGB calibration, PA3 also corrects for the device’s gamma issues to give it the punch the IPS panel deserves. While you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who says that the Nexus 4 screen looks “bad,” the calibration has been met with much praise thus far, and the team only hopes that these changes are incorporated upstream.
Are you salivating yet? Those eager to get started should visit the threads below. Naturally, there will also be a plethora of unofficial ports for various unsupported devices. So if you’re looking for a build for your device, be sure to check in your device forum to see if someone’s already attempted porting the ROM. Even better, you could always try porting and building the ROM from source yourself.
February 8, 2013 By: egzthunder1
Often times, we tend to find stock ROMs for our devices boring, outdated, and more often than not, lacking tons of basic (basic for us anyway) functionality. Being who we are and our somewhat colorful history of tinkering with things, we tend to improve these stock ROMs by adding new features. The problem with this habit, pretty much ever since Android was introduced, is that the mods done for one OS tend to not work for the next. (While this was also the case for Windows Mobile, at least most mods worked well across ROMs and devices unless there was a significant version change in the OS such as going from WM5 to WM6.) So, how do we make sure that the knowledge about doing something like this remains alive and well? Simple, you teach a man how to fish, and that is exactly what XDA Recognized Contributor tdunham has done with his latest set of contributions to the site.
Adding items to the power menu has been around since the WM days, so this is not a new mod by any means. However, the way it is implemented into ROMs is often times different when jumping from OS version to OS version. In this particular case, the existing mods that could easily be found on most custom GB and ICS Roms for the Epic 4G Touch were rendered useless (the flashable mods, anyways). However, not only has tdunham provided the mods for the new JB leaks, but he has taken things a step further and decided to write a guide on how to add the code yourself! He goes into good detail as far as what lines of code need to be added where in framework-res.apk and android.policy.jar. Last but not least, the guide also shows how to remove unwanted items from the menu as well. So, if you wanted to get rid of the “take screenshot” option, now you can.
Please do keep in mind that you will need to know how to open, edit, decompile, and recompile these files in order to modify them. There are various guides throughout the site and tools that can aid you in this. If nothing else, Google is always your friend. Please leave some feedback on the thread and share what you have done so that others can learn as well.
This will allow you to have Recovery and Bootloader (download mode) right in the Power Menu selections.
You can find more information in the original thread.
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More often than not, a new device will come out, impressing people left, right, and center with lots of eye candy, special features, and innovative concepts. Being the type of people we are, we want to have all this, but without really having to dump more cash on top of a new device. After all, not having a fancy launcher on your S4 loaded smartphone shouldn’t mean that you have to buy yet another device just to satisfy your cravings for the aforementioned eye candy, particularly when your device should be (in theory) perfectly capable of handling all you throw at it. These are the times when devs step up to the plate and do what they do best: hack the daylights out of our devices to get things going.
This is the story of a new feature lock screen effect introduced by Samsung in their 2012 line up. The TouchWiz stock lock screen for Jelly Bean ROMs can be heavily customized to allow for several features such as sensor actions, shortcut icons (a la Sense), and other visual effects such as a water ripple and an ink effect that show up upon touching the screen. Both of these are normally found in Galaxy Note 2 JB ROMs, and despite some similarities, unfortunately they are not found in their older device counterparts. As of the leaked JB ROM known as FK23 for the Epic 4G Touch, XDA Forum Member _dan was able to get the water ripple effect working by modifying several files in the framework. Taking the lead from this, and upon people requesting it (as well as sheer curiosity by others), XDA Forum Members evo3d6 and Stryke_the_Orc set out on a trip to port yet another one of those appealing visual effects, the ink effect. After advancing the work and getting things going, both of the aforementioned were almost successful in getting the effect working but were missing something. Thanks to the help from XDA Recognized Contributor tdunham and _dan, the missing pieces of the puzzle were found, and the ink effect was successfully ported over.
Installation is rather straight forward, and it is available for FL16 andg GA10 leaks of JB. Simply place the packs in your SD card and flash via recovery. The devs are continually improving this pack. For instance, the newer version is loaded with 18 colors to choose from! One word of advise though is that the ripple effect must be active in order for the ink effect to work. Remember to make a back up just in case something happens.
GA10/FL16 Stock Ink Effect Mod
(This mod is for deodexed roms only)
Ripple mod & toggle included. It won’t work without it.
Source decompiled files included. Devs use Winmerge to diff the files if you want to use this elsewhere.
You can find more information in the original thread.
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February 3, 2013 By: Samantha
Want to try something a little bit new on your ICS-based Sony Xperia device? Sony’s lock screen used in their Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update has been ported to all Xperia devices running Ice Cream Sandwich by XDA Forum Member erorcun. Supported devices include the Xperia Arc and Xperia Ray of the 2011 lineup, as well as the Xperia Sola and Xperia S of the 2012 lineup.
Most notably, Sony changed essentially the entire interface seen in it’s Gingerbread and ICS predecessors by allowing users to swipe up or down anywhere to unlock the phone. Upon contact, the screen breaks up into an effect reminiscent of Venetian blinds, which lasts for as long as you hold your finger on the screen. This serves to make unlocking your phone easier than before by freeing your thumbs from awkward motions. There is now also an option to change the background of the lock screen with the default wallpapers or your own pictures through the Album application. Swiping the digital clock to the right allows access to various music shortcuts, and swiping to the left is a ‘quick-capture’ camera feature, where a picture is taken upon swipe. Unfortunately, lock screen notifications such as new text messages and emails have been removed by Sony, justified by the pull-down notification area of the status bar.
Two versions of the lock screen are available. The first first features permanent ‘slide-to-unlock’ text in the middle of the screen, whereas the second only displays the text after the third unlock attempt. Sony’s Jelly Bean lock screen is a nice change from the standard ‘left-to-right slide’ lock screen of previous Xperia devices, and hopefully this will tide many Xperia users over till the official Android Jelly Bean update.
For more details, check the original thread here.
January 28, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
In an move unheard of from OEMs, Sony has released an official Alpha build with the source code! A lot of other great news stories hit the Portal here at XDA this weekend. Jordan reviews all the important stories from this week. Jordan talks about the official Jelly Bean 4.1.2 for the Samsung Galaxy S II I9100.
In Windows RT news, Jordan talks about the whitelist tool that allows flash for certain sites. Also, a Windows RT jailbreak tool lets people installed non-Microsoft executables. Jordan talks about the new bootloader unlock for the Galaxy Note 2, with XDA Elite Recognized Developer AdamOutler‘s CASUAL Tool updated to make the process painless. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
January 26, 2013 By: jerdog
Here at XDA, we take the responsibility of carriers and OEMs to provide timely updates to their devices (and to honor their GPL requirements) seriously. There are those who do a good job (Samsung is one of them), those who don’t always do a good job (HTC, Motorola, LG), and those who do a terrible job (Huawei, ZTE, Rockchip to name a few). But there is one who right now is doing a terrific job, and that is Sony Mobile.
Back at the end of 2012, we selected Sony Mobile as our OEM of the Year for many reasons. One of those had to do with their public support of the developer community. Another was the release of beta OS builds for impending updates, shared on XDA by Sony staff in order to seed the ROM development pipeline. In addition, they were very active in supporting AOSP for the Sony Xperia S in the Google AOSP device tree, released the AOSP binaries, and eventually branched out to open their own Github for future AOSP development.
On Friday, Sony continued their string of community contributions by releasing an ALPHA build of Jelly Bean (Android 4.1.2) for the Sony Xperia T. This build is most definitely an alpha, meaning that many of the core components do not work, so it is not meant to be flashed or even mucked around with by the end user. It is meant solely for custom ROM developers to take and use and help make it better in preparation for Sony’s upcoming official build of Jelly Bean for the Xperia T. In order to flash this you will need to use their EMMA tool and your device must have its bootloader unlocked, or else the device will boot to a black screen and you will need to return to stock via Sony’s Update Tool. More information can be found at their Developer World blog. Again, this is not for the end user.
Sony evidently wasn’t content just to be the only OEM to provide OFFICIAL alpha builds for their devices. They ALSO released the kernel source for the alpha build. No other company in our memory has ever done this. Sure, one could argue that it is their obligation to release the kernel source under GPL requirements because they distributed the alpha build. But let’s keep in mind that we’re talking about an ALPHA build—something that is essentially in the infant-stages of its evolution, and not a production build or a finished product.
Let’s also keep in mind that instead of letting it leak like other manufacturers do, and thus not need to adhere to the GPL because they can claim ignorance and that they themselves aren’t the one distributing, they are embracing the fact that the GPL is not harmful. They are stating their case that this is how OEMs should work with the community. They are saying that this sort of thing encourages trust and a sense of togetherness between the community and the OEM, which in turn trickles down to the consumer’s good will towards the OEM. It’s a veritable marketplace “circle of life.” (You’re welcome for having planted the Lion King firmly in your subconscious for the next few hours.)
Other OEMs, like Samsung, frequently release incomplete kernel source that will not build (GPL violation); or fail to release the kernel source for a production build that they later retract even though it was distributed and is live in the wild on consumer’s devices (GPL violation). Or in the case of HTC, just plain ignore the GPL and wait for petitions to be filed or lawyers to be engaged before releasing the kernel source for a software version that is now out of date (GPL violation).
Let this be a lesson to the OEMs out there: When you choose to embrace the very ecosystem that has driven your profits high, and endeavor to work with that ecosystem in a mutual give-and-take, you will see positive results and karma that far exceeds your expectations. Or you can choose to neglect the very base that at one time made you the top smartphone manufacturer in the world and ultimately see your profits and market share slide into the abyss where there is little to no hope of return. Your choice. Choose wisely.
January 25, 2013 By: Joseph Hindy
It’s no secret that Samsung has dropped the ball in some areas such as the Exynos brick bug and the lack of proper documentation. However, they managed to keep true to their word that the Samsung Galaxy S II would officially see Jelly Bean. This will put the device on software that is as up to date as the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Samsung Galaxy Note II.
The update is official, which means you can get it via Kies or an OTA. Alternatively, XDA Recognized Developer Faryaab has a running thread where you can download firmware updates. The update itself should bring a load of Jelly Bean goodies. This includes Jelly Bean’s beloved Project Butter for a smoother, more consistent UI. Other features that come with the update include:
When it comes to installing the update, there are several options. Users can wait until their carrier pushes an OTA update and install that way. You can also update via Kies, which requires no waiting. If you want the firmware on hand to flash when you need it, as rooted users often do, you can download the firmware directly and flash over Odin. So there is no real preferred method, just pick your poison.
Now for some bad news. Some minor features don’t seem to be working. Members in Faryaab’s thread have mentioned that the 50 GB of Dropbox storage isn’t working properly. In addition, Social Hub is no longer included in the update, including the IM app. Those who don’t wipe /data can expect errors saying that it isn’t working anymore. There are some other minor issues reported, but nothing seems to be a major deal breaker.
To learn more about the update, visit Faryaab’s firmware thread.
As mobile devices have evolved, so have the tools for performing every day tasks. What used to require Microsoft Office on a standard computer can now be accomplished with various mobile applications that can create, edit, and view Office documents (because Microsoft still can’t figure out how to mobilize their mammoth, memory-hungry, piece of… oh never mind). Further expanding the analogy, we used to use apps like Notepad to edit text files, and now we have a bevy of apps on the desktop that allow you to not only edit a text file, but also features color-coding for different programming languages.
Sure, we have a number of text editors on mobile, but many of them try to be all things to all people. Now we have a new text editor designed for Android 3.x and above. Wordpad – Minimal Text Editor by XDA Forum Member Gibbz1 lives up to its name, and takes the minimalistic approach to app design.
When you open the app for the first time, you are presented with the screen seen to the right.
There is not much more minimal than that. You get a nice blank screen, with a blinking cursor waiting for you to type or to open an existing file. One downside to the app is that it can only be used with text files on your SD card, and does not show up as an option for editing text files elsewhere on the device. That said, the developer is very responsive, and is looking to continue to add features. So visit the application thread and add your feedback.
January 14, 2013 By: Haroon Q. Raja
Whenever there is mention of custom ROMs for Android, AOKP is one of the first to come to mind. Over the past year, the popularity of this source-built ROM has skyrocketed to make it one of the most recognizable third party development projects. Though over the past few months, several AOKP users (including myself) decided to jump ship to other ROMs because of the delay in a release based on Android 4.2. There is good news: The wait is over, as Team Kang has officially released Android 4.2.1-based AOKP JB-MR1 Build 1, starting with the Nexus line of devices.
As with the changes in Android 4.2 from 4.1, the changes in this AOKP release from the previous one aren’t as many as we’ve seen in previous major releases. However, they are still substantial enough to improve the overall user experience. Apart from all the AOKP features of the previous Jelly Bean builds, you’ll get:
The Nexus line of devices was the primary focus of AOKP since its very inception, and they are the first ones to get this release as well. However, that doesn’t mean other devices will be left out. The team is working on Galaxy S II, S III, Note, and Note II support for the next build, with builds for many other devices to follow. Until then, you can grab the ROM for Nexus devices from the following links:
The team is also planning a return to its (bi)weekly release schedule once builds for more of the officially supported devices are ready. More information can be found at the AOKP website.
January 9, 2013 By: Joseph Hindy
Booting into multiple versions of Android have become kind of quite common around these parts. There are many devices that can dual boot. Usually it’s in the form of an OEM-skinned ROM and a AOSP-based ROM, which users choose to flash. Recently however, developers have been pushing a little further than that. The HTC HD2 received triple boot, where it could boot not only into three different ROMs, but those were actually different operating systems. Now, the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet can quad-booting.
XDA Forum Member malloneem wrote a tutorial that allows users to flash up to three ROMs on a SD card, while leaving the stock Nook software on the tablet’s storage. That’s four total bootable ROMs. As malloneem explains:
This is a guide to use with Windows to create a 3-Boot SD card for a nook Tablet 8GB or 16 GB. After you are done you will be able to choose to boot into your regular nook OS or choose between CM7, CM9 or CM 10.
As stated by the developer, this can only be accomplished through Windows at the moment. Users will be run through the partition process in such a manner that three ROMs can run from it. That is really the majority of the tutorial. Then it’s a matter from grabbing ROMs from the various ROM developers and installing them all. It’s a long and tedious process, though, so make sure to have an afternoon to dedicate.
To see the whole tutorial, check out the original thread.
January 9, 2013 By: Haroon Q. Raja
Lately, several devices have been getting Jelly Bean in form of CM 10 and CM 10.1 ports. Recently, we brought you unofficial CM10.1 ports for the Nook HD+ and Samsung Galaxy Fit. Now, the Galaxy Player 5 and Strait Talk Galaxy S2 have joined the club, thanks to unofficial ports by XDA Forum Members Mevordel and mr-cook, respectively.
The Straight Talk SGS2 port is based on Android 4.2.1, and should work fine as a daily driver. The developer also provides several other useful goodies in the thread, including ClockworkMod recovery, stock and AOSP modems, and the stock factory image and flashing instructions to get a clean start.
Moving on to the Galaxy Player 5 port, it’s an early release with a lot of work yet to be done to make it suitable enough for daily use. Currently Bluetooth, Camera, and the earpiece aren’t functional. You do, however, get sound through the speaker on the back. The capacitive buttons are also not working on international version, and only earphones with a built-in microphone work. The port is still work in progress, and hopefully these issues will be sorted out soon in a future release.
Booting Android from an SD card has become somewhat of a trend in recent weeks. In most cases, it’s been on devices that don’t run Android as a stock OS, and users have the option to run Android and the device’s stock OS. Now, similar functionality is available for the Samsung Wave.
XDA Senior Member hero355 wrote a tutorial on how to get Android booting from the Bada device’s SD card. The tools to do so were created by XDA Elite Recognized Developer Rebellos and XDA Forum Member volk204, which you can find more info on here. There are plenty of other members and developers who contributed as well.
The process itself isn’t overly difficult, but does require that users pay attention. There are several zips that will need to be downloaded and flashed in recovery. During the process, users are given the choice as to how much they want to use for internal storage for the Android ROM they’re flashing, so that the SD card can be properly partitioned.
Once it’s all said and done, users have the option of booting into Bada or Android. There are some issues, such as no modem functionality or microphone, among others. So it’s not exactly daily driver status just yet. Since Bada still works, though, it allows users to get the Android experience without losing functionality entirely.
For more details, download links, and the full list of credits, check out the original thread.
January 8, 2013 By: jerdog
Bootloaders are like locks on a cookie jar: They’re just begging to be unlocked. When users on XDA see a locked bootloader, they immediately start looking for the accomplished developer who is working on hacking the device. It is for this reason that we like to hold Google Nexus devices as the gold standard for how manufacturers (and carriers) should approach their bootloaders, as well as firmware openness.
Nexus devices are easy to unlock: You go into fastboot mode, type ‘fastboot oem unlock’, and you’re done. Easy peasy. Of course, Google’s method involves an automatic wipe of your data, which functions as a pseudo-security measure. There of course is a way to get that data back after the wipe on the Galaxy Nexus, but what most users fail to think about is locking their bootloader again once they’ve gotten their ROM to where they want it to be. This opens up their device to all sorts of potential problems, especially those of the malicious kind.
Recently there has been talk about the Samsung Exynos 4 memory exploit, which leaves Exynos 4-based devices open to malicious attackers. With the fact that Samsung has never fixed the eMMC Brick Bug issue, which affects stock and non-stock Exynos 4 devices, you have the perfect storm of malicious attacker meets manufacturer negligence. Users can have their devices bricked and/or wiped in a matter of moments, and they would be none the wiser.
XDA Senior Member segv11 came across something in the Nexus bootloader, which is cause for concern for the Galaxy Nexus, Google Nexus 4 and Google Nexus 10. segv11 created a bootloader unlock, which does not follow the normal convention. Instead, it falls back on a process where you can keep your bootloader locked, and still keep a sense of security. He does this by simply changing a couple of bits in the /param partition, while keeping the bootloader locked for security reasons. XDA Elite Recognized Developer AdamOutler also released a similar process for the Galaxy Nexus back in April of 2012 which utilizes a brute-force method to unlock the bootloader by replacing the entire /param partition instead of just adjusting the bits.
This app highlights an issue with the way Google has chosen to lock the bootloader, especially when it’s easy to just change the aforementioned bit. What else is contained in there that can be hacked? What else is there that a malicious app, with root privileges, could potentially render your device a pricey brick? It’s for this very reason that we encourage users to be very careful before they mess around with their devices, and to make sure they read all of the instructions the developers put together beforehand.