July 26, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
Our international xda:devcon ’14 in Manchester, UK on the weekend of September 26-28 will, like the XDA forums, focus on more than just Android and phones. We’ve got a couple presentations that cover Wearables and Android Wear. Of course, software isn’t the only thing you can develop in the mobile sphere.
Today, we are happy to announce another great speaker that will be at xda:devcon ’14. Shane Francis is an Android and technology fanatic who finished his computer science degree just over a year ago. Having been involved with multiple community driven projects–such as CyanogenMod–as hobbies has driven him to expand his interests into many different fields. Electronics and robotics are another interest of his. This extends to projects such as building robots and quadcopters in his spare time. Combining his interests for his presentation is recipe for an interesting presentation.
At xda:devcon ’13, the NFC lady, Pearl Chen gave a presentation entitled “NFC: Thinking Creatively Beyond Mobile Payments.” In her presentation, she leads you through an NFC journey to discover some unexpected ways that NFC can be used on Android phones that go beyond the checkout line. Find out interesting ways you can use NFC in your next app or in your everyday life, and check out the video from last year.
This year, Francis offers up another excellent presentation talking about the many, often unusual, things you can do with an Android device. This time robotics will be the focus. Have you ever looked at your Android phone or tablet and think, “What if this thing had wheels, arms or a nerf gun?” Entitled “Android, Robotics and Vision Oh My!” Shane will be looking at how well Android devices are suited at being the brains behind robotics and some insights into creating a robotic platform based around any Android device. As well as an overview on how computer vision libraries, such as openCV, perform on the last few generations of Android devices. So if you welcome our Android Robotic Overloads, this presentation is for you.
The XDA Portal is a place where we like to talk about things that are interesting, fun, and sometimes unusual and unexpected. One recent project that we encountered is easily able to fall into all of the above criteria.
If you have some basic manual skills, the right materials, and a few minutes of free time, you can make your own DIY capacitive stylus in just few minutes. This hand-made tool will work with every device with a capacitive touchscreen and is pretty easy to make, even if you’ve had little to no experience with creating similar things. XDA Senior Member Sangeet007 made a tutorial explaining the whole process in details. The tutorial is a combination of photos and accompanying description. Everything is made of cheap materials like pen or tin foil. And if provided materials are not enough, Sangeet007 linked us to a video, where you can see the process in action. The simple and efficient process can be done in just few minutes.
Naturally, this hand-made capacitive stylus will never be as good as inductive technology active digitizer pens like the Wacom units on the Galaxy Note lineup–or even the N-trig pen on the latest Microsoft Surface Pro 3. However, most devices lack active digitizers, so users are stuck with capacitive styluses– and with this tutorial, they are now cheap and can be made by anybody.
You can find instructions to build a DIY stylus for Xperias (and other devices) by visiting the Stylus creation tutorial thread.
July 9, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
We use our smartphones every day for various reasons: Email, text messaging, Hangouts, surfing the Web, streaming music, streaming movies, and occasionally even making phone calls. Try as they might, it seems like OEMs never give us enough battery life. We’ve talked about external battery packs in the past, but XDA Developer TV Producer AdamOutler gives us a little information on the unsung hero of the smartphone world: chargers.
Adam talks about chargers and charging cords. He talks about what makes a good cord, and what makes a bad cord. He talks about aftermarket chargers, some of which offer many ports so you can charge all your devices without taking up every free outlet in your house. Finally, Adam talks about and measures the actual amperage delivered by these devices compared to what they are rated to deliver.
May 28, 2014 By: jordankeyes
Once in a while, a device comes along that throws convention against the wall and tries something different. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. With that in mind and as you can tell from the title, we’re going to talk a bit today about the YotaPhone from Yota Devices. Yota, a Russian mobile broadband provider, started making devices back in 2011, but focused heavily on wireless modems and routers. And then in December 2012, they unveiled their first smartphone, the YotaPhone. READ ON »
May 7, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
XDA Developer TV Producer AdamOutler is known for his famous XDA Unboxings. In an unboxing the XDA way, Adam tears apart an innocent device all the way to its bare components. He then points out some of the components and what they do. Today, he has set his sights on the Oppo Find 7a. He’s done this to other Oppo devices as well: the Oppo Find 5 and the Oppo Find Mirror aka the R819.
In this episode, AdamOutler shows off the Oppo Find 7a and unboxes it. But of course, he doesn’t stop at opening the box. Rather, he strips it down to its bare bones. He then shows you around inside the device and talk a bit about the device. Also, be sure to check out Adam’s Google Plus page to see some failed experiments with this device! Finally, he shows us how to install a custom TWRP recovery. So what are you waiting for? Check out this video.
A little over a month ago, XDA Developer TV Producer Jordan reviewed a device that was an external battery plus a plethora of options from RAVPower. Perhaps the most useful feature of that device is its battery, because while it is nice to have a Wireless Internet repeater, most of the time you just need to juice up your phone. So why buy a multipurpose device when you can get just a battery—and one of the biggest batteries we’ve seen, at that!
In this episode, XDA Developer TV Producer TK takes some time to talk about a unique smartphone accessory, the RavPower 14000mAh Power Bank. This device is marketed as a backup external battery charger. And in a market full of external battery juicers, does this one stand out? Check out this video to find out.
February 27, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
There are many reasons why one would want to connect a high end microphone to a mobile device. Having a mobile phone that can double as a near-studio quality recording source is not only a really cool novelty, it can be genuinely useful in a pinch. And with the relatively high video quality offered by mobile imaging sensors, decent audio recording capabilities could help bridge the quality gap for budding video producers.
After experimenting with various connection mechanisms, microphones, and adapters, XDA Recognized Developer AdamOutler wrote a guide detailing the process of getting various different types of microphones to play nicely with Android devices. The process describes all of the steps and parts required in making your own custom adapter to connect mics with XLR, dual XLR, and 1/4″ plugs. The guide also covers how you can use a USB OTG connector to power mics that require external power. The steps covered in the guide are all described in great detail, and there are plenty of pictures to help you follow along.
If you’re a mobile videographer looking to optimize your audio recording quality or if you simply want a better alternative to carrying around a lot of recording gear, make your way over to the original thread to get started.
February 19, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
A little over a month ago, XDA Developer TV Producer Jordan reviewed a device that was an external battery plus a plethora of options from RAVPower. Perhaps the most useful feature of that device is the battery, because while it is nice to have a Wireless SD Card Reader, most the time you just need it to juice up your phone. So why buy a multipurpose device when you can get just a battery—and a big battery at that!
In this episode, XDA Developer TV Producer TK takes some time to talk about a unique smartphone accessory, the Lepow U-Stone 12000mAh High Capacity Power Bank. This device is marketed as a backup external battery charger. And in a market full of external battery juicers, does this one stand out? Check out this video to find out.
February 5, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
WARNING: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. WE ARE TRAINED PROFESSIONALS!!!
It’s coming, it will be huge, it will change the world as we know it, and it has a pretty silly name. What is it? It is the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is the buzz term for the world when everything is connected to the Internet: TVs, toasters, couches, anything. The great thing about that is that we will be able to develop and automate things, or at least make them easier. How can we take advantage of that?
In this episode, Recognized Developer AdamOutler demonstrates the use of the Spark Core to control just about anything with an Android device. The Spark Core is a $35 cloud-enabled micro-controller device that allows you to access your Spark Core from your Android device from anywhere in the world. So, being the tinkerer that he is, AdamOutler explores the remote control capability rather than programmability. So it you like seeing amazing things you didn’t know were possible, check out this video.
December 7, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Remember that ambitious modular smartphone platform project that Motorola announced a little over a month ago? Despite the backing from Motorola and now a 3D Printing hardware manufacturing partner, many have written off Project Ara as technically improbable and realistically impossible. Well, perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to downplay this potential game-changer.
According to Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside, Project Ara is very much real. So real, in fact, that Dennis stated in an interview with YouTuber Marques Brownlee that a working prototype is just around the corner. While not much was revealed about the device will function, he reiterated the goals of the project:
There is a prototype, and it is pretty close. The idea is you have a skeleton that holds together a set of components, and the components slide in and out. If we have the interfaces and the protocols that enable the speaker to speak directly to the CPU, then this would all be possible.
While vague, this hints at an interface protocol in the MDK, which will be used to standardize all input directly interface with the device processor. Unfortunately, no such standardized protocol currently exists, so there are some large technical hurdles to be overcome. Furthermore, with modularity and standardized interfaces generally comes added bulk. And given recent hipster trends, an extra millimeter or a fruity logo can mean the difference between a device that is considered cool and one that is not.
In addition to the technical challenges, the rest of the increasingly disposable mobile technology industry may not be ready to adopt a user-upgradeable and user-serviceable alternative. This could potentially limit OEM and ODM adoption, as well as keep prices prohibitively high.
Finally, Dennis Woodside also briefly touched upon the success of Moto Maker for the Moto X, and the consumer demand for customizable devices. As such, it’s not unreasonable to anticipate that if and when Ara comes to fruition, it will be launched through Moto Maker. As stated by Dennis:
Moto Maker was the beginning of a more exciting and longer term story, which is how do we involve consumers and give them more choice. Ara is much further out, but you can see how those two things tie together and how as we introduce new materials into Moto Maker we’re gonna pursue that theme across our product line going forward.
What we’d like to eventually get to is functionality within the device, and that’s where Project Ara and Moto Maker may converge.
What are your thoughts on Project Ara? Are you hopeful about its potential or are you too skeptical that its lofty goals will see fruition. Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below, and also be sure to make your way over to the MDK Hacking and Discussion forum to get in on the MDK action.
The full interview can be found below, and it is definitely worth your watch if you have any interest in the future of Google-owned Motorola, its upcoming products, or Project Ara and customizable smartphones.
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.
November 17, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Remember that interesting hardware mod for the Google Nexus 5 that we talked about yesterday? If not, let me refresh your memory. When XDA Elite Recognized Developer AdamOutler noticed that his Nexus 5′s internal speaker wasn’t up to snuff, he decided to investigate.
Long story short, Adam posits that the speaker performance in some units is affected by glue that has snuck its way into unintended areas. This runny glue, however, doesn’t seem to be a problem for everyone. But on some units, it makes even hearing the ringer troublesome.
After reading Adam’s instructions, XDA Senior Member Oli1122 decided to give the modification a shot. In addition to simply performing the steps, he decided to objectively measure the results. They were impressive, to say the least. After performing the modification, Oli1122 observed a 13 dB increase in sound pressure level.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the logarithmic scale used in SPL measurement, let me put that into more understandable terms. 13 dB of SPL increase corresponds to roughly 2.46x the perceived loudness (since perceived loudness doubles with increases ranging from 6 to 10 dB, depending on frequency and loudness). In other words, this will sound more than twice as loud. Not impressive enough? Let’s consider signal amplitude. The modification resulted in 4.47x the sound pressure level on Oli1122′s device. And if you want to consider power (acoustic intensity), 13 dB equates to 19.95x the required power. In other words, to achieve the same volume level on the flawed unit, you’d have to pump nearly 20x the wattage through the speaker. If this isn’t impressive, I don’t know what is.
Now, it is important to keep in mind that your results will obviously vary. Naturally, the modification will only benefit those units with troublesome glue in the first place. In other words, if your volume is fine, don’t attempt this mod. But if you are aware of the risks and want to give this a go, make your way over to the original thread, read all the steps, and share your results. Do be careful, though. Any hardware mod is inherently risky. As good of a value as the $350 Nexus 5 is, it isn’t quite as much of a steal once you turn it into a paperweight.
November 16, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
The Google Nexus 5 was released 17 days ago, and it was met with nearly unanimous praise. Sure, the camera is
a little bit extremely laggy; but for the first time in recent Nexus device history, it’s actually of passable image quality—especially for the price.
One legitimate concern, however, is the rather low speaker volume, which often makes it hard to hear incoming calls. Strangely, this only seems to affect certain units. Luckily, XDA Elite Recognized Developer AdamOutler looked into the matter, and found that on some units the glue obstructs the speaker chamber ports.
Rather than complain, Adam did what Adam does best, and he fixed the problem—documenting all the steps and tools required in the process. Yes, you’ll need to open your device to perform this fix. Yes, it’s dangerous. But luckily, the steps are well documented and you only need a few simple tools to perform the fix.
To get the complete details on the warranty-voiding procedures, make your way over to the original thread. Do be careful though. While the steps are well described and relatively safe, you are after all performing a hardware mod, which could legitimately damage your device. Proceed with caution.