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: Tomek Kondrat
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 13, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
For the most part, the Google Nexus 5 is an utterly fantastic device—and an even better value. The device delivers top tier specs, as well as the latest and greatest in Android, all in a slim and attractive package.
While the Nexus 5 is largely a success, not everything is perfect with the device. At launch, the device suffered from a dreadfully slow camera and many also complained about a low speaker volume. Thankfully, Google took care of the former with an update to Android 4.4.1, and the latter was initially conquered by XDA Senior Recognized Developer AdamOutler with great results.
Now thanks to XDA Forum Member shinral, we’ve learned that LG and Google have adjusted production on the device to fix the low speaker volume and loose button issues. The speaker volume fix comes in the form of larger holes in the speaker and microphone grilles, and the loose button fix comes from smaller and tighter-fitting button openings.
You can learn more about the differences over in the original thread. What are your thoughts on these production run adjustments? As an owner of a “first generation” Nexus 5, I must admit to feeling a little envious of new owners receiving updated units. However, even the original, flawed run produced an outstanding value.
[Thanks to everyone who sent this in!]
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 11, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
The Google Nexus 5 has only been out a short while. Our friend Jordan has reviewed it and even went so far as to show us how to root the device. During that time, the software developers at Google were coding so hard and so fast that the keyboard vending machines at Google started running dry.
Their efforts have been praised on the Internet. The Android 4.4.1 update fixed a lot of peoples problems, but Google didn’t stop there. They also released Android 4.4.2 KitKat. In today’s video, XDA Developer TV Producer takes a good hard look at these updates and compares them to the original Android 4.4 KitKat release. So give yourself a break and check out this video!
READ ON »
December 9, 2013 By: Tomek Kondrat
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]
December 5, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Just two days ago, we talked about how Android 4.4.1 was undergoing internal testing at Google. Then earlier today, we received word of some of the new camera improvements that would be coming with the latest version.
Now, the official Android 4.4.1 OTA has started making its way to the Google Nexus 5 in the form of an incremental OTA update. The incremental OTA takes you from the previous Android 4.4 (KRT16M) build to Android 4.4.1 (KOT49E).
Naturally, the OTA will be rolling out over the course of the next few days or weeks, so don’t be alarmed if it hasn’t yet shown up on your Nexus 5. However, those tired of waiting can get cracking a bit early by manually downloading the incremental OTA update directly from Google’s Update Servers. Once downloaded, reboot your device to stock recovery and execute the adb sideload [OTA filename] command to get started.
Naturally, your device must be stock and with stock recovery for this incremental OTA to work. The update is still not yet live on the Nexus Factory Images page, but we can’t imagine that it will be too long before the full factory image is posted there as well.
For those of you who have already updated (either manually or via official OTA), how do you like the improved camera performance? Does the camera now live up to your expectations? Feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
Update: Apparently, the update for the Google Nexus 4 is also rolling out! You can manually download the OTA for the Nexus 4 directly from Google’s Update Servers. Installing this is the same as with the Nexus 5. Once downloaded, reboot your device to stock recovery and execute the adb sideload [OTA filename] command to get started.
Update 2: The update for the LTE version of the Nexus 7 (2013) is now live as well. Grab the update directly from Google’s Update Servers.
Update 3: For ease of access, here are the updates that have rolled out thus far:
[Many thanks to reader max4wdc for letting us know about the Nexus 4 OTA!]
December 5, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Ever since the release of the highly anticipated Google Nexus 5, the device has earned nearly unanimous praise from the tech industry. Much of this has been well deserved, as the Nexus 5 features bleeding-edge internals at a wallet-friendly price. Unfortunately the camera quality, while much improved over its predecessor Nexus devices, still leaves much to be desired. Luckily, however, this is being actively worked on and tested, with a fix right around the corner.
A few days ago, we reported that Android 4.4.1 was undergoing active testing. At the time, there was no indication as to what the update would bring. At the time, we were hopeful that the update would bring some of the new camera modes promised earlier. Unfortunately, it appears as if these features won’t be making their way into production builds quite that quickly. However, there’s still quite a bit of good news on the Nexus camera front. In a recent interview with The Verge, Director of Engineering for Android Dave Burke detailed several improvements to the Nexus 5′s camera that will make their way to consumer devices with Android 4.4.1.
The update is intended to fix the Nexus 5′s camera performance in five categories. The most immediately noticeable will perhaps be autofocus speed. Due to the added optical image stabilization in the Nexus 5′s camera module, the current camera software allowed itself to take slow shutter shots, even when in good lighting conditions. While this is quite beneficial in lower light conditions, it quickly proves frustrating in good lighting.
In addition to the speed increases thanks to the higher frame rate and image detection, the update will also aim to bring picture quality increases. These will come in the form of changes to the device’s autofocus, exposure, and white balance, as well as reduced motion blur. The menu interface will also see a slight streamlining, including a new progress indicator for the HDR+ mode.
As for timing, Burke stated that the update will be rolling out over the next few days. Be sure to check back here at the XDA Portal for captured OTA update links and images. What are your thoughts on these new camera improvements? What do you think of the Nexus 5′s camera overall? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Source: The Verge]
December 4, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
You know those hidden magnets underneath the rear panel of the Google Nexus 5? Well, it was quickly determined that their purpose is to align the phone with the official Qi charger by Google. Unfortunately, however, Google’s official Qi charger is rather pricey at $50, close to five times the cost of a generic Qi charging mat. Furthermore, the new charging mat for the Nexus 5 no longer features the useful angled design of its predecessor, the Qi charger for the Nexus 4.
Luckily, XDA Forum Member kidgenius saw this as an opportunity to live up to his username. As such, he created a thread showing off his home-made angled wooden dock, complete with integrated Qi charger. And since he uses four carefully placed magnets, the device is able to suspend itself in place, using only the power of magnets.
This being XDA, the thread would not be complete without thorough and detailed steps on how to create your own. As such, kidgenius also provided a build log, complete with all the components and steps required to create your own wireless magnetic Qi charger.
We’re not going to lie to you. This will take a substantial amount of work, as well as some woodworking expertise. However if successful, your efforts will be rewarded with a one-of-a-kind homemade dock with all the functionality of the official charger, but at a fraction of the price.
If you’re curious to learn how this was done, or if you want to follow inn kidgenius’s footsteps and create your own, make your way over to the original thread.
December 2, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
The HTC One Developer and Unlocked models are now receiving Android 4.4 KitKat! 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 the announcement that the Google Nexus line of devices is vulnerable to Denial of Service attacks and that the Xposed Framework is now official on Android 4.4 KitKat!
In other important news, Jordan talks about the legendary HTC HD2 is now running Android 4.4 KitKat. Finally, in case you messed it last week, XDA Senior Recognized Developer AdamOutler showed us how to launch an app with Google Now and TK gave us an Android App Review of Dial2Draw. Be sure to check out other videos on on XDA Developer TV. Pull up a chair and check out this video.