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!]
November 14, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Yesterday, we were happy to share the news that the official Android 4.4 KitKat updates were being rolled out to the Nexus 7 (2012), Nexus 7 (2013), and Nexus 10 via over-the-air updates. Naturally, however, not everyone has yet received the official OTA update. And making matters a bit more complicated for those wishing to update before the OTA hits their device, Google has not yet posted these updates for download directly from the Nexus Factory Images page.
Thankfully, the community has pulled through and captured the incremental OTA update links housed on Google’s own servers. You will of course want to be on stock recovery and stock firmware to apply these update. Further, since these are incremental OTAs, you need to be on the correct stock firmware in order for the flash to work. For the Nexus 7 (2012) and Nexus 10, this means that you have to be on build JWR66Y. And for the Nexus 7 (2013), you must be on JSS15R. Thankfully, these builds are all available as complete packages in the Nexus Factory Images page.
If you can’t wait to update your device to official KitKat and are looking for the captured OTAs, head to the appropriate link below!
November 13, 2013 By: Tomek Kondrat
Google has announced on the official Android Google+ that starting today, the Nexus 7 (both 2012 and 2013) and Nexus 10 will receive an over-the-air update to Android 4.4 KitKat. According to Google, the Nexus 4 and versions of the Nexus 7 with mobile data will be getting the update soon as well.
KitKat was released nearly two weeks ago, and it brought many improvements in security and user-facing features. Google promised that older Nexus devices, unfortunately not including the Galaxy Nexus, would receive an update to Android 4.4 within few weeks. Today’s announcement now reaffirms this. It didn’t take long for developers here on XDA to bake some unofficial ports for these devices. But unfortunately, not everything was perfect in these early builds. Now, however, the unofficial builds will also benefit, as Google will also release the proprietary binaries required to build a fully working system.
We all hoped that it wouldn’t take long for Google to push out the OTA updates for all supported devices. And soon, current Nexus owners will be able to enjoy official KitKat. In the meantime, head over to your device-specific forum and keep an eye out for system dumps and OTAs available to flash.
November 10, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
A little under a year ago, we talked about a rather unique multiboot solution available for the Google Nexus 7 (2012). The tool, which was developed by XDA Recognized Developer Tasssadar, differed from most other multiboot solutions available on other devices because it streamlined the process and requires no modification of your device’s bootloader or existing /system partition. It did, however, require modification to the /data partition, but things were still more civilized than most other multiboot solutions due to the integrated installer app.
Now, Tasssadar’s MultiROM solution has been extended to also support the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 (2013). Just as before, the main staple of MultiROM is its ability to allow you to boot into any number of Android ROMs. In addition to adding support for the two new devices, however, MultiROM has undergone a whole host of improvements over the last year.
For starters, MultiROM now allows you to restore from an existing Nandroid backup for use as a secondary ROM. This is an extremely practical feature because it allows you to make a backup of your existing ROM and transfer it to the secondary installation so that you can objectively compare results when flashing modifications.
Tasssadar has also removed one of the key limitations from last year’s release. Before, all ROMs had to be installed on internal memory. This presented somewhat of a challenge to many since modern Nexus devices lack external SD card expansion slots. Now, MultiROM allows you to use a USB-OTG cable and connected USB storage to house the ROMs off of device storage.
To get started, visit the appropriate thread below:
[Thanks to Tasssadar and Nikwen for the heads up!]
November 1, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Ever since Google released the source code for Android 4.4 KitKat, we knew it wouldn’t be long before proper, source-built ROMs were made available for certain devices. And naturally, we all expected these initial builds to appear first on some of the current Nexus fleet. That is indeed the case, as there are now builds for the Google Nexus 4, Google Nexus 7 (2012), and the Google Nexus 7 (2013).
These builds all come courtesy of the Paranoid Android team, and are labeled “4.4r1 by AOSPA.” The Nexus 4 build comes courtesy of XDA Recognized Developer franciscofranco, the Nexus 7 (2012) build comes courtesy of XDA Senior Member EvanA, and the Nexus 7 (2013) comes courtesy of XDA Recognized Developer aaronpoweruser.
At this point, it is unclear what exactly works and what doesn’t work. However, we do know that Paranoid Android’s signature features have not yet been merged. Rather, this is just based on the source code that was released yesterday. And since this is such an early build and source was only released a day ago, we wouldn’t use these as daily drivers just yet. That said, it’s great to see such early source-built progress being made. Kudos to the Paranoid Android team. We can’t wait to see the ROM’s key features merged!
To get started, head over to the appropriate link below!
[Many thanks to EvanA and aaronpoweruser for the Flo link!]
November 1, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
What an exciting day we had yesterday. As was widely speculated, the Google Nexus 5 was finally released, which means that you can finally put that F5 key to rest. However, the new device wasn’t the only important announcement yesterday. We were also given a nice dose of the next version of Android, version 4.4 KitKat. Now the question in everybody‘s mind undoubtedly turns to when their device will get the update. Luckily, we now know the roadmap for certain key devices. READ ON »
October 9, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
Last week, XDA Developer TV Producer Jordan showed us how to work with developing an app in the upcoming Ubuntu Touch OS. Of course, developing an App for a device or operating system is always easier if you have a device to test it on. Luckily, Google released a new version of the Nexus 7, and the market is full of old Nexus 7s you can pick up for cheap.
In this video, Jordan shows you how to install Ubuntu Touch on an original Nexus 7 (2012) device. This will allow you to try Ubuntu Touch out as an operating system or even push apps to for testing your development. So if you have an old Nexus 7 (2012) or you want to try Ubuntu Touch, check this video out!
September 23, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Blob files for Nvidia Tegra-powered Asus devices are incredibly useful. This is because they allow us to easily flash images to our devices using Nvflash at an extremely low level.
Given the low level at which APX (Nvflash) mode runs and how this is much more primitive than booting into a standard Android recovery partition, a device with the appropriate blobs is practically unbrickable. Thus, blob files can be used to get us out of seriously sticky situations that would otherwise be unrecoverable without major device surgery.
Naturally, you’d want to have the appropriate blobs for your device just in case anything goes wrong. Thanks to XDA Recognized Developer rayman (and the rest of the crew on the AndroidRoot.mobi team), this is now possible on the (original) Google Nexus 7, as well as the Asus Transformer Prime, TF300T, and TF700.
Flatline creates these blobs for the aforementioned devices. A custom recovery image is used to flash a custom bootloader, as well as to generate the appropriate blobs. This solution is unique from other Nvflash solutions in that doesn’t require a working /data partition for image storage. Rather, blobs can be retrieved from /tmp/AndroidRoot, as explained in the guide linked below.
You can get in on the discussion by visiting the original thread. To go ahead and get started on your own device, visit the developer team’s full guide, complete with modified recovery images and all other required files.
[Thanks to OEM Relations Manager jerdog for the tip.]
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!
August 2, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
If just having the latest Android 4.3 wasn’t a good enough reason to upgrade, Android 4.3 has TRIM support! That and more are covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is an announcement that CyanogenMod Team has realeased Focal from Project Nemesis and some forums were added for the Nokia Lumia 1020 and the Huawei Ascend P6.
Jordan talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer Kevin released a video showing how to root the New Nexus 7 (2013), and later he compared the Old Nexus 7 to the New Nexus 7. TK then showed us everything we needed to know about the new Google Chromecast. Also check out Jordan’s Nvidia Shield unboxing video and gameplay video. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
Yesterday, XDA Developer TV Producer Kevin showed you how to root your New Nexus 7 (2013). With everyone excited about the new version of the Nexus 7 device and a version of Android 4.3 available for the Old Nexus 7, Kevin thought he would compare the two. Two Nexus 7 devices enter the cage; only one will exit.
Kevin presents side-by-side comparisons of the New Nexus 7 (2013) versus the Old Nexus 7. Kevin compares gaming performance, web browsing performance, video performance, and more. Check this video out to find out whose cuisine reigns supreme.
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.