February 17, 2014 By: eagleeyetom
Being able to say “OK Google” from the comfort of your home screen was introduced alongside the Nexus 5′s Google Experience Launcher a few months ago. It allows users to control their devices with just their voice, as saying “OK Google” launches the voice command detection mode. With the newest update of Google Search, “OK Google” can finally detect languages other than English, and it works perfectly fine with other devices, but a little “hack” is needed.
XDA Recognized Developer memnoc wrote a handy guide describing how to activate this functionality on a device other than the Nexus 5. The hack isn’t overly complicated, and all you need is root access and a decent file manager.
The method is a chain of copy-paste operations and one simple bin file edit. The described method should work on all devices with Android 4.4.2, and was confirmed on the Nexus 5, Nexus 4, and HTC One S—and even non-AOSP ROMs are supported. It’s definitely great that the hot word detection is finally available for other devices and languages, as not everybody can speak English with a perfect accent.
If you have Android 4.4.2 on your device and want to speak to your device, go to the guide thread, follow the steps, and enjoy your device’s newly found abilities.
February 1, 2014 By: eagleeyetom
The Google Nexus 4 is a very popular phone. A powerful CPU, combined with 2 GB of RAM and a relatively low price at launch made it an ideal choice of many XDA community members, myself included. Despite being a great device, and one which is still extremely popular, the Nexus 4 has some issues with LTE. As it never officially featured LTE connectivity, you need to do some tweaking to enable it, as ever since radio 0.48, LTE has been disabled.
Luckily, the community managed to find a solution by creating a hybrid of newest radios with 0.33, which was the last radio with LTE capabilities. Those hybrids were created by XDA Senior Member morrislee. They previously needed to be flashed with the PC, which increased difficulty and hassle for many. Luckily, this is all in the past, as XDA Senior Member bpear96 created an application to flash your desired radio with just one click. With this application, you can do three things: flash a stock modem starting from version 0.24 up to 0.98, flash an LTE Hybrid Modem, and enable/disable LTE support in your build.prop. If you plan to flash your modem with this application, you naturally have to make sure that your device is rooted. That’s pretty much the only requirement.
To try out this app you should visit the original thread. So if you’ve got a Nexus 4, make your way there and enjoy super fast LTE connectivity.
December 27, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Ever wonder how despite its less than jaw dropping specifications, the Moto X still manages to score quite well in many benchmarks? Unlike some of the other major OEMs out there, Motorola doesn’t rely on benchmark-specific application detection and questionable “optimizations.” Rather, they actually employ genuine speed tweaks, in the form of optimized Bionic and Dalvik libraries.
But before delving further to learn about how you can use optimized libraries to improve the performance on your own Qualcomm-based Nexus device, let’s spend a few minutes talking about these libraries in question. After all, you should know what you’re getting into when incorporating any new system-level tweaks and mods.
Let’s start with Bionic. Bionic (libbionic) was originally created by Google for use in Android, as a derivative of the standard GNU C library originally found in BSD (glibc). Bionic differs from the standard C library in that it is a much smaller library than the GNU C library. Furthermore, it is designed for relatively low powered CPUs like mobile devices. In practice, it is used for various basic math and memory operations.
Now, let’s take a look at Dalvik. Dalvik is the virtual machine used in Android that has much in common with Java virtual machine. But rather than executing standard Java class files, Dalvik relies on DEX files. This is the same DEX that you’ve undoubtedly already heard of when talking about ODEXED and DEODEXED ROMs.
You may also recall how we broke the news on the new ART runtime compiler introduced into Android 4.4 KitKat. ART, which serves as a drop-in replacement for the Dalvik VM, is far more optimized thanks to ahead-of-time compilation rather than Dalvik’s just-in-time compilation. ART compatibility isn’t quite 100% yet, but it is already good enough for many. And while ART necessarily requires greater storage space usage on installed apps, the performance gains may be worth the added storage footprint. Unfortunately though, the popular Xposed Framework is not compatible with ART—and it won’t be for quite some time, if ever.
So what does any of this have to do with the real world performance gains we all crave? Simple: Loading more optimized libraries can potentially result in improved performance. To see this in action, let’s take a look at a particular thread by XDA Senior Member kszaq, which demonstrates how more optimized Bionic and Dalvik libraries can be used on various Qualcomm-based Nexus devices to improve performance.
Where do these optimized libraries come from? The optimized Bionic library comes from the open source Code Aurora Foundation, and the optimized Dalvik library comes from the Moto X. So why weren’t these just implemented into stock Android? That’s a bit harder to answer. The Dalvik optimizations from the Moto X are closed source, so it makes sense that Google would not want to include this in the AOSP and in devices with official AOSP support. The Bionic optimizations from the Code Arora Foundation, on the other hand, are open source. But perhaps, Google simply did not want to have these hardware-specific optimizations a part of the Android as a whole.
If you’ve been wanting to optimize your Qualcomm-based Nexus device’s performance but don’t want to use ART, you should consider implementing these optimized Dalvik and Bionic libraries. Make your way over to the original thread to get started. Just be sure that you have a Nandroid backup before flashing these, as there’s no simple “undo button” when modifying system libraries.
Please note, however, that this only is of benefit to Qualcomm-powered devices. Naturally, CAF’s optimizations will not have any beneficial effect on non-Qualcomm hardware. Furthermore, the Moto X’s Dalvik optimizations are largely unnecessary on non-Nexus devices, as other vendors also use hardware-specific Dalvik optimizations. Basically, you’ll only find this useful for the Google Nexus 5, Nexus 4, and Nexus 7 (2013)—all of which are powered by various Snapdragon chipsets. And it should go without saying that these optimizations are only valid for near-stock, AOSP-derived KitKat ROMs.
December 26, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
As you’re making your way down the list of things to try with your newly acquired tech toys, one thing you’ll undoubtedly get around to is flashing a custom ROM. Those looking for aftermarket firmware now have one more Android 4.4.2-based option, as the AOKP team has just finished incorporating Google’s latest and greatest into their nightly builds.
Currently, Android 4.4.2-based nightly builds are available for the Google Nexus 5, Nexus 4, Nexus 10, Nexus 7 (2013), Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S III, Galaxy S 4, HTC One, Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, Xperia T, and Xperia V. More devices will be added to the nightly list as soon as they’re ready. The AOKP team recommends a full wipe when installing the latest JB-MR2 nightlies, but users on unofficial builds released after December 10 may be able to get away without a full wipe.
December 23, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
If you’ve been wanting to try out Ubuntu on your mobile device but found yourself reluctant to switch to an entirely new ROM, Canonical has a special treat for you. Earlier today, they announced the developer preview of their new dual boot solution, which lets you seamlessly switch between Ubuntu and Android in just a few clicks.
Unlike previous solutions that allowed users to switch between Android and Ubuntu, Canonical’s new dual boot solution allows users to switch between the two OSes with nothing more than an application. Moreover, the new system is incredibly simple to set up, as installation happens nearly automatically through the Android client app. And if you wish to return to Android, you use the ubuntudualboot app on the Ubuntu side to reboot back into Android.
Not much is needed to get started. You need to be running Android 4.2 or higher on an AOSP-derived ROM, 2.7 GB of free space, ADB on your desktop and your phone’s bootloader must be unlocked. Currently, this has only been tested by Canonical on the Google Nexus 4, but they state that other Nexus devices should work as well. One small thing to keep in mind is that installing this dual boot solution will overwrite your recovery partition. So if you end up giving this a shot, make sure you are comfortable with the fastboot flash command in order to get your recovery back.
Those looking to get started should head over to the source link below. Are you going to give dual boot a try, or do you only care about Android? Let us know in the comments below.
December 23, 2013 By: eagleeyetom
Theming is one of the most interesting aspects of Android. Modifying the look of various UI elements often leads to as noticeable of an impact as getting new features. There are lots of ways to modify the look of your screen, but what to do when you want to modify only one element?
There is an app in the Play Store called ZipThemer. Basically this tool allows you to add some custom UI elements to your favorite custom ROM’s update.zip file. XDA Recognized Contributor matthew0776 gathered tons of interesting mods together and called it a Candy Shop, and it is indeed full of sweetness. The current set is intended for use with the Nexus 4. But with a little modification, it can be used with almost any device. Currently the lock ring, glow dots, lock pattern, search light and soft keys can be modified. The number of mods is impressive, and I’m sure everybody will find something interesting. For those of you who are less familiar with ZipThemer, an instructional video can also be found in the original thread.
If you are into theming and want a unique look for your device, visit the original thread to learn more.
December 15, 2013 By: eagleeyetom
As you all know, AOSP is the purest form of Android. All Nexus devices are shipped with relatively clean Android, baked by Google engineers. Constant and frequent updates make it a quite interesting position for all Android enthusiasts. But AOSP is pretty barebone, as it lacks many of the key features of skinned ROMs that many of us have come to enjoy. This is when the brilliant Xposed Framework enters the picture.
A few months ago, we talked about an Xposed Module aimed at bringing some goodies to Samsung stock ROMs made by XDA Recognized Developer wanam. This time, wanam created a module dedicated to Nexus devices owners running KitKat. This module allows you to customize many little things to make your stock ROM more suitable for your needs. With this kit, it’s possible to change the clock position, the type and color of your battery text, and so much more. Everything can be found in the original posts, where a video demonstrating the module is also available.
Nexus devices should not be limited to AOSP features only, and Wanam Kit gives you a great chance to enhance the user experience. More information and the module itself can be found in the development thread. Keep in mind that your device must be rooted and running the latest version of Xposed Framework.
December 11, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Just two days ago, we wrote about how Android 4.4.2 was rolling out to the most recent Nexus devices. This was only four days after the Android 4.4.1 roll out. And earlier today, we took a quick look at what changed from 4.4 to 4.4.2. Now, we’re glad to report that the Android 4.4.2 source code has made its way over to the AOSP, and factory restore images are now available for the Google Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7, Nexus 7 (2013), and Nexus 10.
Ever since Android 4.4.1 was released, we were wondering when the factory images would see the light of day. Thankfully, that day is today. And while users have been able sideload the incremental OTAs manually using adb sideload, it’s great to also have the freedom to perform a clean install, directly to the most recent version—either through flash-all.bat or by manually flashing the images directly through fastboot.
Google didn’t only provide us with new factory images for all the currently supported Nexus devices. They also released the full source code to Android 4.4.2. With this, your favorite aftermarket developers can start merging the new commits over from Google’s repos into their own builds.
End users looking to download the factory restore images can do so by heading over to the Nexus Device Factory Images page. Developers looking to start building with the new Adnroid 4.4.2 code can do so by browsing the 4.4.2_r1 source code directly on Google’s Git.
NEXUS 5 hammerhead:
NEXUS 7 2013 razor:
NEXUS 7 2013 razorg
NEXUS 4 occam:
NEXUS 10 mantaray:
NEXUS 7 2012 nakasi:
NEXUS 7 2012 nakasig:
December 9, 2013 By: eagleeyetom
Google likes surprises—we all know that. Four days after releasing the Android 4.4.1, they decided to push out Android 4.4.2, which is a bugfix release of a bugfix release. It’s probably one of the fastest releases in the history of the company.
A full list of improvements is still unknown, and hopefully we will notice what has been changed when the source comes out. Thanks to Sprint’s community moderator 4Social, we know that build KOT49H brings the following improvements:
- Fix for clearing the VM Indicator
- Fix for delivery of the VM Indicator
- Various additional software fixes
- Security enhancements
The OTA should be rolled out within next few days to all supported Nexus devices. Some of the packages are already available to download from Google servers. All you need to do is to execute the command adb sideload [file name] to flash it to your device.
The links for other devices should pop out soon, as well as factory images and proprietary blobs to download.
If you get the update, let us know in the comments below what you think about this release and if the changes mentioned above live up your expectations.
December 6, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Ever since the release of Android 4.4 KitKat, we knew that it was only a matter of time before custom ROM developer teams started incorporating the goodies into their own builds. Accordingly, the CyanogenMod team stated their plans to release their Android 4.4-based CyanogenMod 11 once work on CM 10.2 had finished. Approximately one month later, the CyanogenMod Team has now reached the M1 Milestone in their Android 4.4-based CyanogenMod 11 ROM for certain Nexus Devices.
Not every device is receiving official CM11 M1 love. In fact, it is only available for “actively AOSP-supported Nexus devices.” In other words, this means the Google Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7, and Nexus 7 (2013). Because of this restriction, though, you can expect a relatively bug-free experience. Devices other than the supported current Nexus fleet will be receiving official CM 11 nightlies instead.
What are your thoughts on this new approach to pushing out Nexus device releases a bit earlier? Let us know in the comments below!
[Source: CyanogenMod Blog]
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 19, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Capping off a busy day chock-full of KitKat news, Google has just released a new build of Android 4.4 to the AOSP servers and various recent Nexus devices. The new build comes in at version KRT16S, and it replaces the older KRT16O build.
The KRT16S update is currently available for the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 (2012 – all variants), Nexus 7 (2013 – all variants), and Nexus 10. Curiously left out, however, is the Google Nexus 5, which features a different build altogether (KRT16M). Also of note, this new KRT16O build is unrelated to the mystery KOT31B build seen a week and a half ago on the Chromium Issue Tracker.
According to AOSP Moderator Conley Owens, the new build is largely a bug fix build. As such, you shouldn’t expect too many user-facing features. That said, users looking to get in on the action can easily do so by going to the Nexus Factory Images page and downloading the latest firmware images. If building from source is more up your alley, head over to the Android Git and Nexus Driver Binaries page.
[Source: Android Building Google Group]
November 14, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Ever since Android 4.4 KitKat was released, the question quickly turned to when devices other than the Google Nexus 5 would get to see the goods. We’ve seen various unofficial builds pop up for unsupported devices. In fact, we’ve highlighted quite a few highly functioning releases for a few of the more popular devices currently available. But up until yesterday, if you wanted to enjoy Android 4.4 KitKat in official capacity, you needed to own a Nexus 5.
Then, Google pushed out the official KitKat OTA updates for the Nexus 7 (WiFi only), Nexus 7 (2013, WiFi only) and Nexus 10, and the OTA links were soon captured. However, the timeframe for the Nexus 4 (as well as the Nexus 7 variants with mobile data) was still up in the air, with the only official statement being that it would come soon. Apparently, “soon” actually meant the following day. To that end, the official Android 4.4 KitKat restore images are now available for the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 (all variants and both years), and Nexus 10. Along for the ride are the proprietary driver binaries, which enable ROM developers to make fully functioning builds for these devices. Curiously, the OTA update for the Nexus 4 has not started making its way out to handsets. That said, we can’t imagine it’d be too long now that the KitKat images for the device have been released.
If you’re an end user, installation is as simple as downloading the images and executing the flash-all.bat file. Alternatively, you can extract the available archive and flash them piecemeal through fastboot by executing the command fastboot <partition name> <image name and path>. This will enable you to flash without losing data.
Update: It looks like some of the update links on Google’s site are currently down. We assume this is because they are likely being uploaded to the website. Keep trying every now and then, as we’re confident that they will be live soon.
[Many thanks to reader Sampo S. for sending in the tip!]