Sony’s Timescape UI is one of the most eye-pleasing custom Android interfaces currently available. Many consider it to be elegant and minimal, which has lead to it amassing quite a following of fans. Not too long ago at MWC this past year, Sony announced the Xperia M2, a mid-range device with development that is just now starting to flourish. And now, you can enjoy some of the M2 goodies on other devices.
XDA Senior Member xperiaz2 ported the M2′s System UI to other Sony devices running Android 4.3, and added fonts from its bigger brother, the Sony Xperia Z2. And given that the majority of Sony devices are now running 4.3 thanks to recent update pushes, quite a few Xperias can get in on the action—even devices with dual-SIM support.
In addition to the visual changes, this update also offers some functional toggles. These toggles can potentially save you time searching for features like NFC or Stamina mode. You can enjoy the newest Xperia UI on your device in just few simple steps, but don’t forget to backup your current ROM in case anything goes wrong.
If you are an Xperia device owner running 4.3 and want to check out the latest Sony UI seen on the M2, head over to the original thread and give this a try.
February 19, 2014 By: Tomek Kondrat
The panel that is available when you drag down your status bar differs in almost every custom build of Android. It’s different in Sony or Samsung ROMs, not to mention AOSP and AOSP-derived ROMs. This panel is frequently used to toggle device features like WiFi, GPS, and ringer mode. Needless to say, these settings can be changed, and we don’t need Xposed Framework this time thanks to a little smali editing.
Those of you running Samsung devices may be familiary with 3Minit Mod by XDA Recognized Contributor gharrington. The developer was kind enough to share the source code with users, and now 3Minit can be used on other devices. With this modification you gain a quick launch panel, which adds a possibility of running your favorite applications directly from the notification zone.
The panel is fully customizable, and it enhances a functionality of your Android device. To test it, you need to have deodexed SystemUI.apk, which needs to be recompiled with APKTool. Gharrington prepared a package with all the smali files required to successfully add Quicklauncher settings to your ROM, so the smali modifications will be reduced to absolute minimum.
In just few seconds, you can add a powerful modification to your device—but to do that, you need to visit the original thread to get started.
February 4, 2014 By: Tomek Kondrat
Holo UI has become an integral part of Android ever since the the launch of version 3.0 Honeycomb. Its visual styling has earned quite a few fans, as well as many who actually dislike it. A few days ago, we talked about the Holofication Nation project, where developers are transforming well known applications to better fit the Holo style. Now it’s time to continue this journey and further ‘Holo-ify’ your device.
Your battery stats readout is one of the last places in Android’s UI that hasn’t yet been touched by the Holo magic. But with a small amount of work, you can change this state. XDA Recognized Themer and Contributor iamareebjamal posted a guide describing the process of transforming battery menu stats from its current drab color scheme to blue, eye-candy Holo style. Some smali editing is required, so you need to be familiar with tools like APK Tool. However, the whole process should only take a few minutes, and it should work on most Android devices running Gingerbread or later. If you don’t like Holo blue, you can easily choose a different color, so you can even make it pink if you so choose.
If you want to give it a shot, make your way to the original thread and follow the steps. Just be sure to backup any files that you modify in case you wish to revert.
January 10, 2014 By: Tomek Kondrat
The Android dev team has a sense of humor, and has put several funny easter eggs into their code. Probably the best known easter egg is the “hidden” pseudo-game in the About Phone section. Tapping on the Android version several times launches a screen with Jelly Beans, KitKats, or other funny stuff. Now, you can port these little mini games to other Android versions.
XDA Recognized Contributor iamareebjamal wrote a guide for Gingerbread devices, and explained what needs to be done to swap the standard easter egg screen with the one from Jelly Bean. This can be done by using reverse engineering tools like APKTool and derivatives.
The process of adding in the easter egg is pretty straightforward. You need to add a few lines of Smali code to one of decompiled files, and then recompile the framework. The changed file can then be pushed back to your device, and you can enjoy Jelly Bean easter egg or use it to fool your friends. This mod should work on almost every device running Gingerbread or Ice Cream Sandwich.
Android 4.4 KitKat was released two months ago, and it brought a lot interesting changes like a transparent status bar. But not many of you know that you can get a very similar effect on any ROM, even Gingerbread, and all you need to do is to visit the thread we’re going to describe below. With APK tool and good text editor like Notepad++, Gedit, or any UNIX-based notepads, you can easily make your status bar use a gradient background.
XDA Senior Member kk9999gada wrote a guide to describe the process of decompiling SystemUI.apk to make the status bar transparent. He also provides the resources (a PNG file) needed to get this effect on your MDPI or LDPI device. The process of making your status bar more KitKat-like is very simple and takes a minute or two, so can be done while sipping some British tea. This modification proves that not only new, powerful devices with official and unofficial KitKat builds can have some of the best of Google’s UI tweaks.
If you have a Gingerbread device and want to add a transparent status bar to your favorite ROM, head over to the original thread and learn what exactly needs to be done.
December 30, 2013 By: Tomek Kondrat
If you’ve been on Android for 2 years or perhaps even shorter, you might remember that in Gingerbread you could sync contacts with Facebook. For unknown (mostly security) reasons, it has since been removed. It was quite nice for Facebook users, as your contacts always had updated photos without the need for any third-party applications. But then Google did what it did, and developers here on XDA used their amazing skills to bring this good back to our devices.
XDA Forum Member cuadedanh created a mod to bring back Facebook sync to CyanogenMod 10, 10.1, and 10.2; PAC; and possibly other custom ROMs. The update comes in the form of a flashable update.zip, which you apply from a custom recovery. Needless to say, your phone must be rooted and have a custom recovery installed for this to work.
If you try this mod, don’t forget to make a backup of your current ContactsProvider.apk first, as you may need it to restore your data if something goes wrong. Needless to say, you can always reflash your ROM, so fear not and check this mod out.
Head over to the development thread to get started and learn how to apply this mod.
[Big thanks to XDA Senior Member herna for the tip!]
November 24, 2013 By: Tomek Kondrat
The flagship LG G2 was released not too long ago. Powerful hardware—almost identical to its younger sibling, the Google Nexus 5—places G2 in the top league of Android devices. But while the G2 packs great camera hardware, the stock camera software is a bit less than ideal.
A camera mod released by XDA Recognized Contributor Jishnu Sur™ improves the photo quality significantly. For example, the stock camera app shoots video at 14 FPS in low light, which results in a choppy picture. After the mod, the framerate is back at 30.
Increased low light video FPS is just one of the many improvements. A detailed technical changelog is available in the thread. With this mod, the G2′s camera works like it should have from the beginning. Of course, it’s possible to revert back to stock camera application. Jishnu Sur™ was kind enough to provide a flashable zip that restores the original app.
October 15, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is latest and greatest phablet in the Samsung’s Galaxy Note line. It comes from the factory with many neat features. However, here at XDA, we don’t just want a normal device. We want to customize our device to get even more power, functionality, and great features.
In this video, XDA Developer TV Producer TK presents three mods that he’s installed on his Samsung Galaxy Note 3 using tools from the XDA Developers Forums. These mods include Fixing the Titanium Backup Issues, Getting the Floating Pen Windows on any App, and performing a Region Unlock. Check out this video.
As you may all be aware, plenty of mods are available for the picking that offer customized settings menus. Usually, they include the addition of the standard CPU frequency settings, on-screen buttons, and a bit of shifting here and there of the settings layout. However, it’ll still be nice to know the process behind such mods, either for curiosity’s sake or because the available offerings are just not clicking with what you had in mind.
Well, XDA Recognized Themer RomWiz brings you one step closer with a guide teaching folks how to customize the settings menu with the addition of shortcuts to apps on an Android 4.0+ device. Requiring APKtool and Notepad++ ready at hand, RomWiz guides you through the way with clear, understandable steps, from the initial decompilation of the settings.apk, to including a custom app icon, and the recompilation.
Visual learners will be glad to know that the tutorial is very much visually orientated, with each step accompanied by screenshots and points of interest. Furthermore, RomWiz has even created and attached the guide in video form to make sure you don’t miss a beat when you’re going through the procedure yourself. A generic zip file has also been conveniently provided, which when you have placed your customized settings.apk in it, can be flashed to the appropriate directory through a custom recovery.
If you would like to learn more, head over to the original thread for both the written and video guide.
July 1, 2013 By: Samantha
Feeling that there are some settings missing in the settings of your device? Or do you think some settings are a bit too tedious to reach? Perhaps the overall layout is just bugging you a little? You’ve seen it done in custom ROMs, but never really knew how to do it yourself. Well, good news, because with the help of XDA Recognized Contributor Quinny899‘s tutorial, you can now switch up the settings layout to your heart’s content.
Sorted into different categories of your intended modification, the guide covers:
Each category’s difficulty is conveniently rated out of 5 stars, and if you come across hiccups where your APK doesn’t recompile or your new settings menu does not appear, there’s a general troubleshooting section. Examples of the necessary code edits and additions accompany each step of the guide, and Quinny899 has also provided a download of icons of various sizes you may want to use.
So if this interests you and you would like to learn more, visit the original thread for more information.
[Screenshot courtesy of Diaz1999]
If you’ve only recently made the transition from hardware or capacitive navigational buttons to on-screen buttons like I have, you may have found the virtual buttons to be quite obstructive and intrusive, for a lack of better words. If you own either the Sony Xperia Z, T, TX, or V; there is now a guide that allows you to not only make the on-screen buttons transparent, but also the status bar if you wish.
Written by XDA Forum Member Spaun_Studio, the guide is relatively simple and straightforward, detailing the required process for transparent virtual buttons and status bar with clear and direct steps. Users must decompile the android.policy.jar and SystemUI.apk file with a tool such as APKtool. From there, users edit, remove, and add a couple of lines in various .xml and .smali files, and recompile them once completed. Each step is accompanied visually with examples of code, with a convenient color coding system to aid users with finding the specific codes that require editing.
We always love guides that teach users how to mod their phones themselves—not only because they encourage users to learn, but also because of the unrestricted flexibility they enable. In this case, users can freely change a couple lines of code to have whatever degree of transparency they fancy.
Of course, following the instructions I have only briefly outlined would would most certainly result in an unwelcome outcome (although you’re more than welcome to try), so it’s best for you to visit the guide for a successful modification.
…Well almost everyone. We all know that PureView and UltraPixels are on the hardware side of things, and can’t really be replicated through software, but maybe we can get sort of close via software, right? This is exactly what XDA Senior Member Xperia-Ray has done with the mod posted in the XDA forums along with a guide on how to emulate the results with the camera app Vignette.
What Xperia-Ray has essentially done and what the guide details is decompiling Vignette with APKtool and adding a couple of lines of code in the ‘Vignette.smali-‘ file, subsequently resizing the picture from the original, full sized image down to about 50% height and width. This modification then displays finer and sharper images by packing more details into the smaller output image size. Xperia-Ray details each step with clearness and straightforwardness aided with examples of code and links to external guides and tools helpful to the process.This guide was initially written for devices with 8 MP cameras, but now will also work with other MPs with the same process.
Judging solely on the before-and-after pictures in 2 MPs by Xperia-Ray, this mod has a positive effect, with finer and clearer per-pixel details in the image. However do keep in mind that results may be different depending on the camera specs of different manufacturers. A multitude of devices have been reported to work with this mod, including the Xperia Arc, Ray, Mini, and Galaxy S3.
If you would like to give this a try, head over to the original thread for more details.
[Picture on the left is unedited, 2MP photo, and picture on the right is 8MP photo compressed down to 2MP by mod]
Update: The thread has now been deleted at the request of the OP.
Modifying and theming your Android device are both key tasks to enriching your Android experience, which is probably why members of the XDA community absolutely love modding and theming their devices. Today, we’ll be going over the basics of creating your own mod and theme for your Android device.
To get a good grasp on the fundamentals of modding, it’s recommended to refer to the Zip-based rom tweaking guide found at XDA-U. The guide lists what tools you need, and goes on to break down exactly what each folder of a zip-based rom consist of, and what function of the device each folder is required for. Examples include the all important /System folder where the majority of your operating system is located, as well as /Framework which houses the core system framework apps that act as the ‘system skeleton’. The guide also points out exactly what folder, app and file is safe to change, and what possible modifications and customization can be achieved by doing so. This is especially important as changing, deleting or adding files may, in many cases, brick your device, such as with a bootloop.
The guide also details what you can do with the Update-script file located in META-INF. Using the edify language, the guide defines what the most common update-script commands are and outlines what they do. It then goes on to describe what the boot.img is, and how to create your own flashable zip file.
The introductory guide to basic ROM theming guides you on how to proceed with theming your ROM or device. It is to be stressed that a high level of competence with Photoshop or GIMP is required, especially if you are attempting to craft a complete theme. Getting a grip on how Android styles are defined in the XML format is also necessary, and an external link to a very thorough guide is provided. The next stage is the actual modification of aspects of the system’s graphics, requiring the decompiling and recompiling of system apps with tools such as apktool and AndroidSuite, which in most cases, tend to be SystemUI.apk and framework-res.apk. Again, the guide provides a basic outline of the process with external correlative links to more comprehensive and specific guides. Once this process is done, create a flashable zip with the modified files and flash the file or, if the modified apk is not a system app, sign the apk and flash or push it to the appropriate folder.
Creating your own mod and theme can be quite a complicated process, but with it comes countless possibilities to personalize your device to suite your specific taste. If you are interests, make sure to head over to the respective guides on XDA-University for a more detailed and complete learning experience.
If you would like to contribute to XDA-University or get involved in any sort of way, feel free to contact us.