July 17, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
This year, xda:devcon will be held in Manchester, UK on the weekend of September 26-28. We have great sponsors like Sony, Oppo and OnePlus. Just a couple days ago we announced that Alin Jerpelea will be returning to talk about Sony and AOSP.
At xda:devcon ’13, Director of Websites and Developer Engagement at Mozilla Stormy Peters gave a presentation entitled “Bringing the World’s Next 2 Billion People Online.” Here, Stormy talked about the developing world’s path to the Internet being different than that of the first world. The first world took a path through desktop computer to Internet-enabled mobile devices. Developing countries are going straight to mobile. Developing countries have limited infrastructure and expendable income as well. Check out the video to see what they have to say on this video from last year.
July 14, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
If you haven’t heard already, XDA is putting on its second annual xda:devcon. This year, we’re doing it international style and holding the event in Manchester, UK on the weekend of September 26-28. We have great sponsors from Sony and Oppo who joined us last year, to newcomer OnePlus. However, it takes more than great sponsors to make an event like the successful, it takes great speakers.
Returning to xda:devcon is a speaker from last year. Founding member of the “Free Xperia Project” and now a Community Manager with Sony Developer Relations, Alin Jerpelea has a core technical background and has been active on XDA since 2006 on multiple platforms.
At xda:devcon ’13, Jerpelea gave a presentation entitled “Android on Legacy Devices – Use It or Lose It.” In that presentation, he holds a dialog with the audience and talks about how Android support on legacy devices from developers is demanded by a lot of people because manufacturers rarely release Android updates. Developers and members at XDA work hard to support devices on new Android versions. Jerpelea pondered how much we should push those devices. Is it enough to have the latest Android version booted, or do we want more? Check out the video to see what they have to say on this video from last year.
This year, Jerpelea returns and offers up another excellent presentation. This time, he will be giving a talk entitled “AOSP For Sony Devices: Past, Present and Future.” Have you ever wondered what Sony is doing to open up for more collaboration and more innovation in the Open Source community? In this session Alin will share with you where Sony is taking AOSP for Xperia in the short term. Sony wants to support external community innovation, so Alin will discuss how Sony will improve their work on openness around AOSP.
Whenever a device is released by an OEM (like Huawei, ZTE, Micromax, etc.) that makes use of a MediaTek SoC, one of the first things we invariably hear from users are complaints about the lack of kernel source code. If you’ve spent any appreciable time on XDA, you undoubtedly know that we take an OEM’s responsibility to adhere to the GPLv2 very seriously. Go ahead, click the link and read about it; we’ll wait. And while you’re at it, maybe check out the nice FAQ that GNU put together.
You back? Good. Now, we understand this can be a bit difficult to understand, so our Developer Admin pulser_g2 put together a concise explanation of XDA and the GPLv2. All of that gives you a good background for this article itself.
Not too long ago, we issued a call for MediaTek to refine their policies as they relate to source code release. The GPLv2 mandates that anyone distributing a product that includes covered software must also must make its source code readily available upon request and at a reasonable fee. (Most do it for free, because you know, the Good Guy factor.) Seeing as Android makes use of the Linux kernel, this means that every manufacturer producing Android devices (tablets, TV sticks, accessories, phones, etc.) must make their kernel source code available. There’s no wiggle room here—they must.
In the case of MediaTek, they are in an interesting position. They don’t distribute devices to the public. Rather, they sell to distributors, who in turn package various pieces of hardware together into a final device and distribute that. They are really no different than their direct competitor, Qualcomm, except for one thing: Qualcomm has learned how to be open and make money, AND be the dominant player in the industry.
MediaTek is required to provide full GPLv2 source to their customers (OEMs). This would include, per the GPLv2:
The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it. For an executable work, complete source code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the executable. However, as a special exception, the source code distributed need not include anything that is normally distributed (in either source or binary form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the operating system on which the executable runs, unless that component itself accompanies the executable.
It is the responsibility of the OEM as well to provide the full GPLv2 source for their final product, which would include the MediaTek SoC GPLv2 kernel source. It is also the responsibility of MediaTek to make sure their partners are not under the impression that they are unable to release the MediaTek source code.
In a perfect world, MediaTek would do something similar to what Qualcomm does with their Code Aurora Forum (a.k.a. CAF) and roll out kernel source code for just the core device they sell to their partners. This enables anyone who has that device to work with it at a kernel level and extend it, as well as submit patches back to MediaTek. This makes for a cohesive, collaborative environment that actually encourages and grows the community and the company. Win-Win for all!
Recently at Computex, held yearly in Taipei, MediaTek announced their intention to become more developer-friendly through a new program they call “MediaTek Labs™.” This new program is actually an ecosystem designed to support developers in device creation, application development, and services based around MediaTek offerings. Their upcoming web portal will feature software and hardware development kits (SDKs and HDKs, respectively) and technical support and documentation.
In my role as OEM Relations Manager for XDA, I constantly have conversations with personnel at OEMs about how they can better work with the development community. MediaTek’s VP of MediaTek Labs, Marc Naddell, and I have had numerous such conversations as of late, and I have to say I have been very impressed with his understanding of, and desire to work with the independent development community. It is difficult for a company to change their ways and embrace a community that encourages open source and collaboration, especially when it is not explicitly tied into their organization or control. Marc understands that in order for MediaTek to grow and become a player in areas of the world where they don’t have a large presence, they must become more open and look for ways to encourage collaboration using their products.
We at XDA are excited to see MediaTek move this direction and look forward to continuing to work with them to embrace and support the independent developer community. We also encourage them to not lose sight of the end goal, and to also not follow in the steps of people like Samsung, which made promises to the developer community but ultimately failed to deliver. MediaTek, take this opportunity to set the standard for how companies should embrace the open source community, and how working together with the comunity can actually be a substantial boost to a company’s business.
May 26, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
Sony has released open source files for the Xperia M2! That and much more news is covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is information on how to add Android Wear notifications to your App and a couple of updates to Google Now. That’s not all that’s covered in today’s video!
Be sure to check out the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer TK released an Xposed Tuesday video for the Xposed Framework 2.6 Update. Then, Adam reviewed the Samsung Galaxy NX. Lastly, TK gave us a an Android App Review of Dial’em All.
March 28, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
Android 4.4.2 KitKat for the AT&T Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is rolling out! That and much more news is covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is the announcement of Sony has made some Open Source archives available for the Sony Xperia Z2 and Z2 tablet and how Chainfire rooted the Samsung Galaxy S 5 ahead of it’s release! That’s not all that’s covered in today’s video!
Jordan talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer TK released an Xposed Tuesday video for Gesture Control. He then showed you how to root the Samsung Galaxy Gear. Finally, he gave us an Android App Review of Shareboard. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
READ ON »
March 15, 2014 By: Conan Troutman
The ability to launch one application from within another is certainly not a new feature. It is, however, incredibly useful and something so matter of fact that many of us probably rarely acknowledge it. While this might be a very useful feature, it isn’t exactly perfect and still has a little room for improvement. You may have previously noticed that after launching one application from within another, it more often than not doesn’t appear independently in the task manager, which obviously makes multitasking a little more awkward than it needs to be.
ActivityForceNewTask is an Xposed module from XDA Forum Moderator GermainZ that does exactly as the name suggests and forces activities launched within applications to create a new task, allowing for much easier switching between the two. Obviously, this has the potential to cause issues with certain applications. However, reports of breakage so far are minimal. Should you encounter any unwanted results from using this module, there are both whitelist and blacklist options available to set exactly which apps this will affect.
As mentioned, this is an Xposed Module so you will need the Xposed Framework to get started. It is also completely free and open source, which is nice. You can find more info and the download link in the original thread.
March 13, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
You may recall that about five months ago, we touched upon a study demonstrating how OEM modifications are the primary cause for most “Android” security issues. Unfortunately, we offer yet another example of OEM-caused security issues—but this time, it’s not because of an OEM skin or bloatware. Rather, this is a potential vulnerability at a far deeper level: proprietary modem software.
The OEM in question is none other than Samsung, the Android ecosystem’s largest and most successful device manufacturer, and the backdoor itself comes as proprietary radio software. This software is responsible for communicating with the modem hardware, and is capable of implementing RFS commands. These RFS commands are then able to perform I/O operations on the device’s storage.
No big deal, right? I’ll just load CyanogenMod and be done with it. Wrong.
Since the cause is a proprietary radio software, changing to an aftermarket ROM will not solve anything, so long as the ROM uses Samsung’s proprietary blobs. In fact, the Replicant team used Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S III devices running CM10.1 to demonstrate how this was ROM-agnostic.
Currently the list of known affected devices includes the Galaxy S, Galaxy S II, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Tab 2, Galaxy S III, and Galaxy Note II, but it’s highly likely that many other Samsung devices are vulnerable. Furthermore, this also seems to affect the Samsung-built Google Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus, as this is a back door at the radio software level, rather than as a part of an OEM skin. Whatsmore, on certain devices, this incriminated process runs as root.
While it is entirely possible that there is a legitimate reason for this backdoor, it’s hard to envision a scenario where one would be necessary. As such, it would be great to hear Samsung’s official statement on the matter. Until then, perhaps it would be a good idea to look into fully open source projects like Replicant, or at the very least, building an aftermarket kernel capable of blocking (and logging) RFS command requests.
You can learn more by heading over to the source link below.
February 4, 2014 By: egzthunder1
Many of you may recall that back in June of 2012, we talked about how NVIDIA was given a rather direct message courtesy of none other than Dr. Linus Torvalds himself. Basically, the article written by XDA Recognized Developer AdamOutler went on about the closed nature of both NVIDIA and Qualcomm as chipset manufacturers, and how it was shameful and really inexplicable how two companies with such closed minded ideals could possibly be the paramount chipset providers for a large number of Android device manufacturers. Adam went on to wrap up the article with a brief (but very powerful) video on what the father of the Linux kernel thought about their lack of support for the open source world. Needless to say, shocked and appalled NVIDIA released a statement not long after in an attempt to address some of the finer points of the rather graphical complaint. Without going into the nitty gritty of the response itself, Adam basically dismantled their apology/explanation piece by piece. Their words, not being backed up by their actions, meant little to nothing.
Fast forward a year-and-a-half later, and we see something coming out of the left field: a completely unexpected move by NVIDIA, which left a whole lot of people trying to think back to what Dr. Torvalds said in the past. In a nutshell, you may recall that earlier this year, NVIDIA announced at CES the arrival of a “192-core” processor, the Tegra K1. This monster of a computerized brain was believed to be, much like its predecessors, as closed source as feasibly possible. So, while it was exciting to see such next generation hardware on the verge of hitting the market, it was a mixed bag of emotions as no one could predict what kind of tricks the chip maker had under its sleeves to keep those pesky devs away from their trade secrets. Well, as per a post made by Alexandre Courbot, the Japanese division of NVIDIA was making progress in helping the Nouveau project come afloat. For the unaware, the Nouveau project is essentially a group trying to create open source code to work with NVIDIA graphics hardware, which is the ultimate roadblock for most open source operating systems utilizing the Linux kernel (Android, Linux distros for PC, etc).
It seems that NVIDIA finally saw the benefit of contributing to the Open Source community, as they decided to share some of their work with the rest of the world by beginning testing and coding open source drivers for the K1 chipset. The work is indeed endorsed by NVIDIA, so rest assured that it is not a leak to be taken down or redacted. As stated, it is in very early stages of development and very few tests have been run. These will then expand into user space testing—if successful, of course. The road is a lengthy one, but certainly not impossible. And now that Nvidia is helping out, it is a far more tangible reality. The post was very well received by entire Open Source community—so much so, that even Linus himself gave NVIDIA yet another piece of his mind, but this time using a different finger. As the saying goes, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs, and Linus’s original message seems to have broken just enough eggs for this wonderful, currently being cooked, omelette to finally happen.
Who knows? Maybe one day in the not-so-distant future, when the manufacturers remove their heads out of their posteriors and realize that without open source they would not exist today, they will start sharing what they know so that they can do what they once (likely) embarked out to do when their companies opened doors for the first time: Make the world a better place through education and sharing of knowledge through technology and innovation.
You can find more information in the original Google Plus post by Dr. Linus Torvalds.
[Thanks to OEM Relations Manager jerdog for the tip!]
We’d like to think that temperature control is the least of our problems when it comes to our smartphones and tablets. It’s a factor that the majority, if not all, of the large manufacturers refuse to acknowledge—instead preferring to tout form, power, and performance. So when we do CPU-intensive activities, such as playing games, or when the weather’s hotter than usual on a particular day, we don’t expect our devices to usually heat up to such a degree.
To manage such problems, Sony has Thermanager, a ‘thermal management solution’ for Xperia devices with binaries that were previously released through their Developer’s Portal. An issue with this was developers weren’t given the flexibility and freedom to customize, improve, or analyze the behavior of the thermal management. This then hindered possible fixes and solutions to thermal-related problems, which were not properly addressed otherwise.
Sony decided to address this issue by releasing the source code of Thermanager to the general public. Made available through their Github, this source release is yet another step that Sony has taken inline with their developer-friendly reputation. So if you’re a developer looking to build on the existing thermal solutions, be sure to check their information post.
September 25, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
XDA:DevCon 2013 is over. Without the great support from our sponsors, the event would not have been nearly as interesting or informative. One sponsor that really stepped up was Sony. Not only did they attend and bring their latest goods for ogling and testing, but they also brought three interesting presentations of our enjoyment.
Their first presentation Karl-Johan Dahlstrom (head of Developer Relations at Sony Mobile) gave was titled “How Sony Supports and Works With Independent Developers.” Part of Karl-Johan’s job is bridging internal software development with external developers, innovation, and knowledge sharing. Above all, he is responsible for fostering co-innovation through tech and developer mindshare. In his presentation, he talks about and gives examples of how independent developers and Sony can, and have, collaborate through different opportunities and open initiatives. Finally, he talks about the initiatives and activities we do to support independent developers and opportunities ahead.
In their second presentation Sony brought Alin Jerpelea. He and other developers started “Free Xperia Project” trying to offer software alternatives, like CyanogenMod, for Sony devices. In his presentation “Android on Legacy Devices – Use It or Lose It,” he talks about how Android support on legacy devices is demanded by a lot of people because manufacturers rarely release Android updates. Developers and members at XDA work hard to support devices on new Android versions. Alin ponders how much should we push those devices. Is it enough to have the latest Android version booted, or do we want more? Alin and the audience talk about whether or not working to get new Android versions on old devices is worth the time. Check out the video to see what they have to say.
Finally, Sony provided one more presentation. Sony Developer Pal Szasz created the CHKBUGREPORT tool for internal needs, and then open sourced the tool for everyone’s enjoyment. In his presentation “CHKBUGREPORT: Open Source Bug Reporting Tool,” Pal talks about how the tool allows you to get good information out of bug reports. Android is the world’s most popular mobile OS, and developers need a good way to deal with bug reports. To see if this former Sony internal tool is right for you, check out this video.
Again, we want to thank Sony for attended and providing us with three excellent presentations. If you want to see more presentations or get a copy of the presentation slides, visit the XDA:DevCon Presentations page.
September 23, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
An Android 4.3 dump for the T-Mobile Moto X was leaked and is now flashable. That and much more news is covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is an article about an open source active display implementation being released and the open source Focal Camera app being made available in standalone form.
Jordan talks about the other videos released this weekend on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer Jayce released a video talking about the current state of open source, as well as a developer’s flow and happiness. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
September 21, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
Open source has been around for a while, perhaps longer than some of those of you reading this have been alive. This doesn’t mean that open source is stagnant. Open source is constantly evolving and changing, and that’s what makes it great. In fact, open source is growing into places outside of software.
In today’s video, XDA Developer TV Producer Jayce talks about the current state of open source. He talks about what Google and EDX are doing for “Moocs,” and he explains what that is. He talks about open hardware and the maker movement that is taking the world by storm. Check out this video to learn more.
August 10, 2013 By: Samantha
Greg Sony”. It’s a rather affectionate title that Sony’s been given for the past few months, particularly for their leading track record in GPL compliance as displayed on multiple occasions. So to make sure that they’re continuing their fairly extraordinary performance, they’ve just released the open source files for the recently announced Xperia Z Ultra and M.
Much in the spirit shown by Sony back with the Xperia Z, the company’s gone ahead to make sure developers can play with the workings behind both the yet-to-be-released Xperia M and the just released Xperia Z Ultra. It’s been iterated before, and it has to be done again, but nothing but commendation can be given to Sony Mobile for this.
The Xperia Z Ultra is Sony’s answer to the very successful Note series from Samsung, boasting a 6.4-inch display at 1080p resolution. Keeping it going is the 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and a 3000 mAh battery. With a thickness, or thinness rather, of 6.5mm, it retains the attractive OmniBalance design we’ve seen featured in the 2013 Xperia family. This is also true for the Xperia M, a mid range device with quite a modest spec sheet. Yet despite its 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor and 1GB of RAM, it definitely still has enough horsepower to go about the uses of the average user.
So if you’re thinking of thinking about getting either of these devices, or curious about their “behind the scenes,” you can find the files for the Xperia Z Ultra and the Xperia M at their respective posts on Sony Developer’s Open Source Downloads site here and here.