March 8, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
When the Moto X was first announced, many were skeptical about the supposedly flagship device with less than flagship specifications. Then as time went on, it gradually became clear that the Moto X wasn’t exactly about raw hardware specs. Rather, the device’s innovative features were its selling points.
We’ve already seen various Active Display-like implementations for other devices, but for many, the coolest feature of the Moto X is undoubtedly the famous “OK Google Now” wake-up hot word. This lead many to wonder if this same type of functionality could be added to other devices without a massive battery drain. Then came Senior Recognized Developer Xplodwild.
Xplodwild was able to use the dedicated audio processing chip on the Google Nexus 5‘s Snapdragon 800 SoC to handle device wake hot word detection. The results can be seen in the video below.
Since this is only a proof-of-concept, don’t even think of asking for ETAs. However, it’s certainly more than encouraging to see this sort of thing possible. Head over to Xplodwild’s Google+ post and Senior Member barqers‘s XDA discussion thread to learn more.
[Many thanks to my fellow writer Tom for the heads up!]
February 19, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Hot off the heels of selling money pit Motorola to Lenovo, could Google be eyeing the new Moto-novo as the next Nexus phone manufacturer? According to sources over at IB Times Australia, this is highly likely. Ignoring the obvious irony in selecting the now third party Motorola as a Nexus device manufacturer, this alleged partnership could make quite a bit of business sense.
For starters, let’s consider a potential timetable. Since Nexus phones are typically released in the Fall, that would mean that R&D for such a device would have to begin a significant amount of time prior. Assuming a one year turnaround from initial design to device ship date, that would mean that the Motonovo Nexus 6 would have been under active development when the OEM was still Googorola. Furthermore, having the now Lenovo-owned Motorola produce the next Nexus device would avoid that nasty conflict-of-interest in selecting a first-party OEM as a Nexus device manufacturer. And finally, since Google now owns a small chunk of Lenovo, this gives Google a vested interest in the future of Lenovorola.
Now let’s consider the other Nexus device successors. Both the first and second generation Nexus 7 tablets have seen great commercial success. Loved by consumers and the media, these wallet-friendly tablets prove that you don’t have to sacrifice build quality in order to get a top notch device experience. And due to their success, they essentially defined what has become the archetypal Android tablet. Because of the nearly unanimous praise seen by the devices, it’s safe to assume that Asus will produce the next mid-sized Nexus tablet. And what about that shift from 7″ to 8″? (that’s what she said) Well, given the popularity of that debunked rumor of an 8″ Nexus device that ended up being a bad device mock-up, it stands to reason that Google saw consumer demand for a slightly larger midsize tablet and changed plans accordingly.
So, what about HTC? It’s no secret that the Samsung-built Nexus 10 has not seen much commercial success. Despite offering a fantastic display and relatively decent internals, many feel that the app ecosystem is simply not there for the 10″ tablet space. And beyond the lack of 10″ tablet-friendly apps, the device still is relatively sluggish, largely due to that massive WUXGA resolution screen. Where does HTC fit into all of this? Well if you recall, HTC recently held a Reddit AMA. And in this Q&A session, the Taiwanese company was asked if it had any Nexus plans. Rather than simply stating that nothing was in the works, they replied no comment.
So what do you make of all of this? What would be your ideal Nexus phone, mid-size tablet, and full-size tablet? Personally, I’d love to see a Motorola Nexus phone, but 5″ is already pushing it for me when it comes to device size. I’d also like to have a slightly bigger mid-size Nexus tablet, as my Nexus 7 v1 and v2 always felt a bit small. And about that HTC Nexus 10? That’d be the One for me! Let us know your thoughts and what you would like to see in the comments below.
[Source: IB Times Australia | Thanks to my fellow writer Tom for the heads up!]
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.
It goes without saying that the Google Nexus 5 is one popular device here on at XDA. And given the specs and price point, there’s little reason to doubt why. It’s got some top notch internals, a good build quality, and it is very welcoming to open-source and community development. What the Nexus 5 isn’t exempt from, however, is the great number of bloatware apps that parasitically come alongside the device. A quick and clean fix to purge your device of these unwanted apps comes in simple script form, and XDA Senior Member MoJo has written one for the popular Nexus 5.
As of right now, the script removes 24 bloatware apps, but MoJo does explain further into the thread just how exactly one can customize the script by adding and removing apps if one chooses to do so. Also, if there’s an app listed in the script that’s not actually installed on your device, the script will just skip the app with no consequences.
Two zip files are provided in the forum post: one is intended to work with the Nexus 5, while the second package should work with any device with a custom recovery. To run the script, just simply flash the zip file through a custom recovery such as CWM or TWRP.
So if you’re sick of the bloatware on your Nexus 5, visit the original thread for more information and download.
January 6, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
CyanogenMod 11.0 M2 is coming to over 65 devices! That and much more news is covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this weekend. Included in this week’s news is KitKat-based OmniRom for the LG Optimus Black and an article talking about how you can improve the quality of your Nexus 5 photos with a simple mod! That’s not all that’s covered in today’s video!
Jordan talks about XDA Senior Recognized Developer AdamOutler’s JOdin3 web-tool to flash your Samsung device. Also, the Custom ROM Central forum has been expanded to include AOKP and SlimRoms. Stay tuned for more CES 2014 coverage. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
January 3, 2014 By: eagleeyetom
The Google Nexus 5 is an undoubtedly great device. That said, its camera’s image quality leaves much to be desired. Google tried to improve the camera by applying some patches in Android 4.4.1, but the camera can still be improved further.
A few weeks ago, we talked about a camera mod for the LG G2 created by XDA Recognized Contributor Jishnu Sur™. This modification fixed a few issues like low video frame rate in low lighting, as well as a few other minor issues. Now, the modified version of the camera app is available for the Nexus 5, and the results are impressive.
Full HD movies can now use 20 Mbit, minimizing compression artifacts. Also, recorded audio has been improved, and according to developer it has no noise cancellation disturbance. This modification can’t be considered stable just yet, as there are a few things not working yet, like the front facing camera. Despite this, the overall improvement thanks to this camera app is significant. Of course, you can always revert to stock if you’d like. All you need to do is to flash a provided update.zip in your favorite recovery. To use this modification, your bootloader must be unlocked and your device must be rooted.
If you wish to improve your Nexus 5′s image quality, you should definitely visit the modification thread and give this mod a try.
December 31, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
The end of 2013 is here, and it has been an exciting year in the mobile device world. XDA Developer TV Producer Jordan combed through all the headlines, hardware releases, and device developments that happened this year and identified the Top Five Technology Trends for 2013.
Everything from expanded mobile OS offerings to great independant mobile device choices, the rapid expansion of wearable technology and Google Glass, and much more. So take a moment to check out today’s video and see the top 5 trends in the mobile industry this year. Let us know if we got it right or why we are dead wrong in the comments below!
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 25, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Once again, all of us here at XDA would like to wish you a Happy Holiday Season! Undoubtedly, many of our happy readers are waking up to some extra Holiday cheer in the form of shiny new tech acquisitions. Luckily, XDA is here and has your back in helping you make the most of your new, Android-powered tech toy(s).
You may remember that a little while ago, we shared with you our Best of 2013 Holiday Gift Guide. Now, we’re going to take some of these “Best” devices that you all voted for, and help you make the most of them. Obviously, we’re going to start with gaining root access and installing a custom recovery. But on some devices, this will even include installing an aftermarket ROM or even enabling multiboot!
Let’s start the day with your top pick as best tablet of 2013, the Google Nexus 7 (2013). With its high end specs and budget-friendly price, we think it’s safe to assume that quite a few Android fans are waking up to a brand new N7.
Since the Nexus 7 is a Nexus device, unlocking and rooting is incredibly simple. You will want to start by installing ADB and Fastboot by downloading the Android SDK (or installing minimal Fastboot and ADB installer, and the associated drivers). Then after you have ADB and Fastboot installed, the real fun can begin!
If all you want is root access, the easiest way to accomplish this is by running CF-Auto-Root for the Nexus 7 (2013). CF-Auto-Root will get you rooted and install the latest version of SuperSU in practically no time and with virtually no effort or hassle.
Not everyone likes it simple, though. For those who’d rather get a bit more hands on, you can unlock your device by turning on USB debugging in developer settings and rebooting your tablet to bootloader by issuing the adb reboot-bootloader command. From there, you can unlock your new device by entering fastboot oem unlock. Then, simply reboot your device with fastboot reboot, reenter your bootloader with adb reboot-bootloader, and flash a custom recovery using fastboot flash recovery <recovery image filename.img>.
After you have your custom recovery installed, your doors are now open to installing some of the more popular custom ROMs, or perhaps you can even give Multiboot a try! All of this and more can be found in our Google Nexus 7 (2013) forum, here at XDA.
Now let’s shift our attention to your top pick as best smartphone of 2013. Surprise, surprise. It was the highly anticipated Google Nexus 5. Just like the Nexus 7, it also offers a wallet-friendly price. But unlike its tablet sibling, it also offers bleeding edge specs like a quad-core 2.26 GHz Snapdragon 800 processor.
Just like the Nexus 7, unlocking and rooting the Nexus 5 is a cakewalk. Just like what we covered above, you will want to start by installing ADB and Fastboot by downloading the Android SDK (or installing minimal Fastboot and ADB installer, and the associated drivers).
Once again, if all you want is root access, the easiest way to accomplish this is by running CF-Auto-Root for the Nexus 5. CF-Auto-Root will get you rooted and install the latest version of SuperSU in practically no time and with virtually no effort or hassle.
For those who’d rather get a bit more hands on, you can unlock your device by turning on USB debugging in developer settings and rebooting your tablet to bootloader by issuing the adb reboot-bootloader command. From there, you can unlock your new device by entering fastboot oem unlock. Then, simply reboot your device with fastboot reboot, reenter your bootloader with adb reboot-bootloader, and flash a custom recovery using fastboot flash recovery <recovery image filename.img>.
Once you’ve got your recovery installed, you can now begin flashing any number of custom ROMs and kernels. And for those willing to try something a bit more ambitious, you can even play around with multiboot. Obviously, all this and more can be found in our Google Nexus 5 forum.
Next up, we have the HTC One. Although the device is no longer on the bleeding edge in the specs department, it offers build quality and a design aesthetic simply unparalleled in the Android OEM world.
While the process is a bit more involved than it is on the Nexus devices listed above, it is fully possible to unlock, root, install a custom recovery, and do much more on the HTC One. Thanks to the hard work by ieftm and his team, the device can be unlocked. There are also several custom recovery options available, as well as Official OmniROM and CyanogenMod installations, though you will want to make sure you are installing the appropriate version for your particular variant.
In addition to the custom ROM fun, those who are feeling a bit more ambitious can give Multiboot a try, as well as a Google Play editions conversion. Just like the previous two devices, all this and more can be found in the HTC One forum.
Please note, however, that the above links are intended for the INTERNATIONAL version of the device. If you’ve got yourself a shiny new carrier-branded variant, make sure you find your appropriate XDA forum before getting to work.
Let’s turn our attention over to the popular and powerful Sony Xperia Z1. Unlocking the device is a breeze. From there, you will want to gain root access, as well as flash a custom recovery. Once you’ve gotten that done, Official OmniROM and CyanogenMod builds await. And like the devices above, all of this and more can be found in the Sony Xperia Z1 forum here at XDA.
Now, we will talk about the wallet-friendly Moto G. Although it’s not the fastest device available, it offers a fantastic value that is simply unmatched in other budget devices.
Luckily, it is quite easy to unlock the Moto G directly through Motorola. From there, you can easily achieve root access and install a custom recovery. There’s not much in the aftermarket development world beyond the above, but you can rest assured that this is only a matter of time, thanks to the device’s popularity. And of course, keep your eyes peeled on the Moto G forums to keep apprised of any and all development activity for the device.
This innovative Moto X proves that raw hardware specs aren’t everything and that an innovative feature set can make for a great user experience, even on non-bleeding edge hardware.
Let’s start with rooting and unlocking, which is now possible thanks to jcase’s RockMyMoto exploit. From there, you will want to install a custom recovery. Then, you can try out any one of the source-built custom ROMs and kernels available in the Moto X forum.
Now we have the largest phone on this list, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Packing bleeding edge specs, a mammoth sized screen, and the fantastic Wacom-based S Pen, the Note 3 is certainly a force to be reckoned with.
Luckily, rooting the device and installing a custom recovery are quite easy on the Note 3. Development support is also quite widespread on the Note 3, so be sure to check out the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 forum here at XDA. Please note, however, that the above links are intended for the INTERNATIONAL version of the device. If you’ve got yourself a shiny new carrier-branded variant, make sure you find your appropriate XDA forum before getting to work.
Rounding out this article, we have the Samsung Galaxy S 4. Much like the highly acclaimed HTC One, the SGS4 is no longer the king of all of the hardware specs battles. That said, it’s still a great phone, jam packed with plenty of great features.
Thanks to the device’s age and vast popularity, root access and custom recoveries are both possible, with much more available in the Samsung Galaxy S 4 forum. But just like the HTC One and Note 3, be sure to visit the appropriate forum for you carrier-branded variant if you’re not running the international version of the device.
We wish you much Android-powered joy for this Holiday Season! See you in the XDA forums!
There are moments in our Android lives when we can’t decide which ROM to choose. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages like bugs, features, and so on. If you have only one device, you can swap around ROMs in the recovery. Unfortunately, that’s not a perfect solution, as it’s time consuming and wipes data every time. Luckily, there is another way.
We’ve covered Multiboot by XDA Recognized Developer Tasssadar several times in the past. The developer has now updated this amazing tool to work with the Nexus 5, enabling the hammerhead to join the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7.
Most multiboot solutions require modifications to the device’s bootloader, or at the very least, it’s /system partition. The method presented by Tasssadar is totally different. The whole tool is split into three parts: a kernel, recovery, and MultiROM application. When the device boots, MultiROM displays a window that allows you to select which ROM to start. Your current ROM is not erased, and no data will be lost. The modified TWRP recovery allows you to update any of the installed ROMs without problems. ROMs can even boot from external USB drives by using a USB-OTG cable
Since the last release, many new features have been added. Tasssadar was kind enough to explain few of main features of his project:
More information and all the necessary files can be found in the development thread.
December 16, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
Android 4.4.2 KitKat is now available for the Samsung Galaxy S 4 Google Play Edition and not to be out done, the Google Play Edition HTC One has KitKat Android 4.4.2 available as well! That and much more KitKat news is covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this weekend. Included in this week’s news is the announcement that Sony has released AOSP KitKat for the Sony Xperia L and the article talking about how Android 4.3 for the Sony Xperia SP, T, TX and V have been certified by the DLNA!
In other important news, Jordan talks about the announcement that Android 4.3 with Sense 5.5 is rolling out for the HTC One Mini. Also, the Verizon HTC One will receive an official Android 4.3 OTA next week, but it won’t have Sense 5.5! Be sure to check out other videos on on XDA Developer TV. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
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.