August 22, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Not too long ago, we brought you news of the Nexus 7 (2013) Factory Image situation and the drama that ensued. Luckily, it wasn’t too long before the world was made right once again, and the factory images and driver binaries for the device were released. For those keeping track, this was build JSS15J for the 2013 Nexus 7 and JWR66V for the rest of the current Nexus stable. Now, a new build has emerged, and it is build JSS15Q for the 2013 Nexus 7 and JWR66Y for the others.
So what does this update bring? This is essentially a minor revision for the Nexus 4, 2012 Nexus 7, Nexus 10, and the GSM Galaxy Nexus. Aside from a security fix and some camera, NFC, and auto-brightness tweaks, not much has been changed. However, if you’re currently using the 2013 Nexus 7, you’re in for a treat. In addition to the above changes, the latest update supposedly fixes the GPS and multi-touch issues experienced by certain users. Also of note is that driver binaries are now available for the Verizon Galaxy Nexus running 4.3 JWR66Y, which bodes well for a firmware update in the near future.
To learn more about the changes made on the 2013 Nexus 7 build, head over to XDA Recognized Contributor sfhub‘s original thread. To get the goods on your own Nexus device without the wait, head over to the Nexus Factory Images page. Finally, if you wish to build your own ROMs from source for your Nexus device(s) and want the latest driver binaries, head over to the Nexus Driver Binaries page.
Did this update fix your 2013 Nexus 7’s GPS woes and erratic multi-touch? Let us know what you think of the updates in the comment box below!
July 31, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Android 4.3’s launch last week has been nothing short of an almost resounding success. Why “almost?” Well, aside from a few issues with copy/paste, most users seem to be quite happy with the latest iteration of Jelly Bean. This level of user satisfaction is to be expected, as the latest flavor of Jelly Bean brings added performance, improved API support, additional functionality, and a few other features. One of these “other features,” however, is quite important for those of us who frequently transfer massive amounts of data to our devices such as media content and other large files.
Of course, as you might expect, I’m talking about how 4.3 also brings TRIM support to all Nexus devices. Anyone who has ever experienced a massive device slowdown after transferring large quantities of data to and from a NAND device knows what I’m talking about. For a very practical example, one need only look at Google’s original Nexus 7. Back when it first came out, reviews for the popular device nearly unanimously praised it for its high level of performance. However as time went on, most users seemed to notice a rather sharp I/O performance decline. This lead to an overall feeling of sluggishness when using the device, making the once fast tablet almost unusably slow for some. This issue seemed to affect those with lower capacity models more severely, or at least more quickly, than those with the 32 GB model. As you would expect, this was largely due to TRIM not being enabled in previous builds. This then prevented the scheduling of NAND blocks for garbage collection, making rewriting data to these blocks significantly slower. (Note: Traces of TRIM were added back in the Nexus 7 4.1.2 builds, but the current consensus is that it wasn’t actually enabled until 4.3.)
Looking into the Android Git, one can readily find the modifications to Android’s volume daemon (VOLD) to enable fstrim. The next step is determining when exactly fstrim runs. As exposed by some detective work by Brian Klug over at Anandtech:
I’ve learned a bit more on the conditions underlying when Android 4.3 will TRIM filesystems, as it wasn’t completely clear before. The Android framework will send out a “start idle maintenance window” event that the MountService listens for, and then invokes vold to fstrim filesystems when a few conditions have been met – the device hasn’t been touched for over an hour, no idle maintenance window event has been sent in 24 hours, and the device is either off-charger with 80% battery or on-charger with 30% battery. The goal is to have fstrim run roughly once every 24 hours if you’re in the habit of plugging the device in to charge every night.
Fstrim sends the FITRIM ioctl() command to all writable filesystems when invoked, which discards (TRIMs) blocks on the eMMC not used by the filesystem. Without TRIM the controller will track blocks that have data deleted by the filesystem, but the controller still believes has data it needs to track. TRIM is the signaling pathway through which the filesystem and OS can tell the controller that it can now consider those blocks unused and for garbage collection – different controllers will behave differently since it’s their prerogative to decide what happens next however.
In other words, if your device is idle and plugged in for over an hour, it will run the “start idle maintenance window” event. However, this will only take place if the “start idle maintenance window” event hasn’t been sent in the past 24 hours, and if your battery level is either greater than 80% or you are plugged in and have greater than 30% battery. Another way to invoke TRIM is to use a frontend for the fstrim utility and force TRIM to be executed using an app such as XDA Senior Member AuxLV‘s Lagfix application.
All of this is unimportant without tangible performance gains. So what can you expect from 4.3 in terms of I/O performance? Over the next couple of days, I set to find out on two daily use devices. I’m going to be running tests using Androbench Storage Benchmark before and after upgrading from official JDQ39 (4.2.2) to official JWR66V (4.3) on my personal Nexus 7 (8 GB) and Nexus 10 (16 GB). Both devices have received heavy usage, with much data being transferred to and from the devices, and about as many deletions. After the “after” tests are run, I will then root the devices and use the LagFix fstrim frontend to force TRIM manually and rerun the benchmarks. Stay tuned and keep checking the Portal for updates!
July 24, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
We were all expecting it. In fact, we’ve all been waiting for it ever since this year’s Google I/O. However, that conference came and went, without a trace of Android 4.3. But after last week’s Android 4.3 leak, we knew it was finally coming soon. And in today’s Google event, which also marked the release of the Nexus 7 refresh, it has finally been made official.
So what’s new in this latest flavor of Jelly Bean? Here are some of the key changes, courtesy of the Android Developers blog post:
- OpenGL ES 3.0 — Game developers can now take advantage of OpenGL ES 3.0 and EGL extensions as standard features of Android, with access from either framework or native APIs.
- Bluetooth Smart — Now your apps can communicate with the many types of low-power Bluetooth Smart devices and sensors available today, to provide new features for fitness, medical, location, proximity, and more.
- Restricted profiles — Tablet owners can create restricted profiles to limit access to apps, for family, friends, kiosks, and more. Your app can offer various types of restrictions to let tablet owners control its capabilities in each profile.
- New media capabilities — A modular DRM framework enables media application developers to more easily integrate DRM into their own streaming protocols such as MPEG DASH. Apps can also access a built-in VP8 encoder from framework or native APIs for high-quality video capture.
- Notification access — Your apps can now access and interact with the stream of status bar notifications as they are posted. You can display them in any way you want, including routing them to nearby Bluetooth devices, and you can update and dismiss notifications as needed.
- Improved profiling tools — New tags in the Systrace tool and on-screen GPU profiling give you new ways to build great performance into your app.
Much has also been done to improve UI performance. Most notably, the Android 4.3 Platform Highlights page mentions a change to the hardware-accelerated 2D subsystem that modifies the stream of drawing commands to send the commands to the GPU in an optimized manner. And in instances when the CPU is required, these operations are now multi-threaded, allowing the use of multiple CPU cores. Improved window buffer allocation also speeds up buffer allocation, resulting in speedier rendering starts. And to best harness the GPU’s power in 2D hardware-accelerated tasks, the system now uses OpenGL ES 3.0 for optimized texture management and to maintain higher gradient rendering fidelity. Of course, however, the main use of OpenGL ES 3.0 will be to provide game developers with the framework and native API access they need to produce high quality and efficient games.
Another major highlight in this Jelly Bean refresh is a substantial refresh to the notification system, whereby third-party apps can observe the stream of notifications and display them or transfer them to nearby connected Bluetooth devices. And just as before, notifications can be enabled or disabled per app. Building upon this, however, now users are allowed to see and toggle which apps have access to the notification stream.
The tablet multi-user feature has also been revamped. Now in 4.3, users are given the option to set up restricted profiles. This allows owners to easily create separate environments for each user, with the ability to manage restrictions in apps available in those environments. This feature is aimed to sharing your device with friends and use at kiosks.
Other notable changes include Bluetooth Smart Ready to aid in discovery and communication with nearby devices, Bluetooth AVRCP 1.3 support for richer interactions with media streaming devices, an improved DRM framework, and a VP8 video encoder.
You can learn more by heading over to the Android Developers blog post and Android 4.3 Platform Highlights page. If you’re lucky enough to own a Google Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, or Galaxy Nexus, you can expect this update to come over-the-air shortly. And if you find yourself impatiently waiting, you can get a head start and download the images by visiting the Nexus device factory images.
We’ve all seen them before. You know, those fancy UI mockups that show how an app would look on a particular device. They not only help put the finishing touches on your app’s Play store listing, but they also help give your app a good first impression of being highly polished—before users even get a chance to try it out. And you know what they say about first impressions.
So how would one go about creating one of these mockups? Well, one way to do this would be to manually take an app screenshot and overlay it atop a Photoshopped image of your target device of choice. However, that could range in quality from excellent to laughable, depending on your skills with your favorite image editor.
This is where XDA Forum Member bydox comes in. Hoping to make the process more streamlined and increase overall end result quality, he released a set of minimal design mockups for five popular devices, the Samsung Galaxy S 4, Google Nexus 4, HTC One, Nokia Lumia 920, and a certain unnamed fruitphone. All phones other than the Lumia and Nexus 4 are available in 2 colors: black and white. The Nexus 4 is only available in black, and the Lumia 920 is available in six different colors. The goods come in the form of 300 dpi PSD and PNG files, allowing you to export high resolution images once you’ve found what part of your app you want to highlight.
Head over to the original thread to start putting the finishing touches on marketing your app.
Every year, Android users wait in anticipation for signs of leaked updates. The disappointment end users faced when Google delayed announcing Android 4.3 at Google I/O will soon be outweighed due to a leaked system dump by XDA Forum Member ManOnTheMoon.
The dump is available as a Team Win Recovery Project backup for the Nexus 4. Android Police has been tracking the dump, and they verified the legitimacy of it at approximately late last evening, which was originally obtained by Jeff Williams. JWR66N has unofficially been released into the wild. Although the radio and bootloader are still missing, ManOnTheMoon promised they would be available tomorrow.
Users who decide to install the leaked update should do so with caution, and after making a full Nandroid backup. There is speculation that Google’s July 24 event may give us a peak into 4.3, so those of you who are feeling less adventurous may want to wait for the official announcement.
One of our goals for the year has been to better organize all of the development works (ROMs, apps, tools, kernels, etc.) on XDA. We wanted this to be useful but also to have minimal impact on how developers post to XDA and on users who are happy with the current structure of the forums.
We’re currently testing a system, we call the Development Database (or DevDB for short) on a handful of forums (Galaxy S II, Xperia Z, Galaxy Note II, Droid DNA, Nexus 4, Nexus 7). You’ll note that when you go to the gateway to those forums, such as that for the Xperia Z, you can now see a tab for ROMs. Each ROM is linked to a forum thread– just as it’s always been. But when you click through to these threads, you’ll notice that they’ve become “enhanced” with a shiny new menu bar as shown in the below screenshot. Developers have the option of which features they want to include for each project:
– Feature Requester
– Bug Reporter
– Downloads (via our own torrent tracker)
– Q&A Thread Linking
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.
January 19, 2013 By: jerdog
At the end of last year, we started selling XDA cases with our friends at CruzerLite, and we’ve seen some phenomenal interest. Our current lineup is the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and the Google Nexus 4—but we want to add more. So we have decided to hold a poll and let the users choose which device(s) to add to our current lineup.
Below you will find some of the top devices at XDA. Please choose one from the list that you would like to see offered, and we will pick from the top 3 devices. The voting ends on February 15, so make sure you place your vote for the devices you love!
EDIT: The results are in, and displayed below. We’ll keep you updated as to the final options when they become available.
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 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.
The morning started off with an LG press conference. They talked at length about “Touch[ing] the Smart Life.” They then talked about their “smart” products. This included everything from refrigerators and washing machines to televisions with more pixels than people in New York.
They spoke briefly about connected devices. They talked about a washing machine that you can start with your smartphone using NFC. You can control their robotic vacuum with your smartphone. They also covered standard device mirroring, or showing your mobile devices screen on your television. The talk included simplifying the setup for this, using a “one touch connection.”
They spoke about their advanced touch interface on their mobile devices. However, only three features of this UI were shown. One was the live zoom feature, which allows you to zoom in and out in a playing video, and another was called “Vu: Talk,” which from gather allows you to write on the screen while talking to someone.
Finally, they talked about their mobile device releases, but most of these devices are not new. They talked about the LG Intuition and its “genius” 4:3 aspect ratio, because that’s the aspect ratio of documents that you view on your phone. Also, they talked about the LG Optimus G—which they went on to call not just a smartphone, but a superphone—and the Google Nexus 4.
All in all, it doesn’t appear that there are currently any breakthrough devices coming from LG. Surprising, right? So developers need not salivate over anything on the LG mobile line up for a while. Judging from their presentation, they instead seem to be focusing on making televisions with more and more pixels at this time.
The Google Nexus 4 has had its ups and downs since its release. The lack and subsequent gain of (limited) LTE functionality, shipping/stock issues, and of course the great development occurring on the device. Another issue that some users have reported is that there is excessive noise in their video recording. Now, there may be a fix for that.
XDA Recognized Contributor mohit1234 released a mod that increases the bitrate of the Nexus 4 from 12 Mbps to 20 Mbps. This should help fix the noise problem and give you better quality videos. So far, users have reported that this has, in fact, helped a great deal and testing seems to show that this will help the noise issue. Of course, increasing the bitrate will inherently require more storage space for your recorded videos, so choose wisely.
To apply the mod, users will have to make a few edits in media_profiles.xml. This is not too different from the 720p mod for the Nexus 7. While this does fix the issues, there is more potential fun that modders can have with the media_profiles.xml file. The next steps will be seeing how high the bitrate can go, and altering the audio and channel values to see if Nexus 4 users can get better audio along with video.
To learn more, check out the original thread.
December 5, 2012 By: Former Writer
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been bringing you news of mskip’s toolkits making it to the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 10. It’s a popular and well known toolkit with extensive features. There is a second toolkit making its way around to Nexus devices, known as Wug’s Nexus Root Toolkit. We brought you news that it was released for the Nexus 7. Now, it’s available for the Samsung Nexus S and Nexus S 4G, the Nexus 4, and the Nexus 10.
XDA Recognized Developer WugFresh has been busy this month. The toolkit has made to five different Nexus devices in just a few weeks. The core features of the toolkit are the same for all releases, and include:
This program will automatically bring together all the files you need to unlock and root your device in a few clicks, or flash it back to stock and re-lock it. You can also use this program to backup/restore all your important data, flash zips, set file permissions, push and pull files, install apps, and much more! With the included file association options, you can perform tasks like flashing zips, installing apps, restoring android backup files, and flashing/booting img files with just a double click! The program includes a full featured interface for automating tasks in TWRP, enhanced restore features, an in-built auto-updater/notification system, ‘any build’ mode, and quick tools utilities. All the latest Android builds and Nexus devices are now officially supported, including the new Nexus 10, Nexus 4, and 3G Nexus 7 (with full 4.2.0 support).
The premise of this toolkit is to make rooting easy and provide a few extra features like installing applications and pushing files. For those looking for a root-bringing toolkit, you should give them a shot.