February 14, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Most of us buy Nexus devices because of their timely updates featuring the latest and greatest that Google has to offer. And if you’re the proud owner of an LTE-enabled Google Nexus 7 (2013), you likely noticed a small incremental OTA update that began rolling out a few days ago, which bumps up the Android version from 4.4.2_r1 (KOT49H) to 4.4.2_r2 (KVT49L).
The fine folks over at FunkyAndroid have created a detailed changelog showing all of the commits that have been merged between the last two versions. So what’s changed? Not very much. There is a snapshot change on the device’s kernel (which is said to help compatibility on Verizon 4G LTE), as well as changes to the stock keyboard and Calendar apps.
Nexus 7 (2013) LTE owners out there looking to get in on the update manually can do so by visiting the Nexus Factory Images page and finding the “Razorg” section. If you’re interested in seeing everything that’s changed, head over to the FunkyAndroid changelog. And once you’re done, make sure to head over to your device’s home forum here on XDA.
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!
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 9, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
Android 4.4.1 KitKat is now available for the Nexus 7 (2013) WiFi-only version. Official KitKat is also available for the Nexus 10! 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 2011 Sony Ericsson Xperia Devices get unofficial Android 4.4 KitKat and the article talking about browsing every AOSP code commit in Android 4.4.1 KitKat!
In other important news, Jordan talks about the announcement that CyanogenMod 11.0 M1 is available for current Nexus devices. Also, there are official OmniROM nightlies for the Samsung Galaxy S 4 LTE. Finally, Motorola open sources the Moto G! Be sure to check out other videos on on XDA Developer TV. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
December 6, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Just yesterday, Android 4.4.1 went from rumor to reality thanks to Google’s Director of Android Engineering Dave Burke, who shared a few details about what 4.4.1 would bring with regards to the Nexus 5. Then we saw the first few Android 4.4.1 OTAs trickle out for lucky Nexus 4, Nexus 5, and Nexus 7 (2013) LTE device owners. We also saw the release of the Android 4.4.1 source code to the AOSP later in the evening.
While Google has been delivering these updates in a rather timely manner, many devices in the current Nexus lineup are still left out. These include the original Nexus 7 (both WiFi and mobile data), Nexus 7 (2013) WiFi-only, and the Nexus 10. Thankfully, Google has now started the incremental OTA rollout for the Nexus 7 (2013) WiFi-only model.
As was the case with the updates for the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, and Nexus 7 (2013) LTE, this is a staged rollout. In other words, not all devices will get the update initially. However, you can download the update directly from Google’s update server, and sideload the update using adb sideload <filename> from your stock Android recovery. Keep in mind that since this is an incremental update, your Nexus 7 (2013) WiFi-only device will have to be on stock KRT16S with stock recovery to upgrade to this new KOT49E build.
For reference, all known OTA links for the current Nexus lineup can be found below:
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!]