June 25, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
The much maligned Android development known as Facebook Home has gone the way of the dodo bird. However, the “chat heads” feature of Facebook Messenger is still favored in the Paranoid Android feature called Halo. Halo was intended to bring a new level of multitasking to Paranoid Android ROMs by allowing the user to receive notifications from apps and act on them from a floating or “windowed” version of the app in question.
In this video, XDA Developer TV Producer Kevin shows you how use floating notifications and multitasking your device. Kevin talks about Halo and some other options. What are you waiting for? Check out this video.
June 14, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
Sony now allows you to install custom firmware on your Smartwatch device. That story and more are covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is an article about Daniel Nazer speaking at XDA:DevCon 2013 and news about the contest. Additionally, the Paranoid Android team has open sourced HALO.
Jordan talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer Kevin gave us video on USB On-The-Go, AdamOutler and friend shows us how to develop for the Google ADK, and TK does an App Review of Hi App Lock. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
We applaud new and interesting open source developments that look to find novel ways to solve a problem—things like the Xposed framework and OpenPDroid. It is these sort of projects that exemplify what open source is, and why we at XDA embrace it. It is also for that very same reason why we’re excited about a new open source project, HALO from the creators of the Paranoid Android ROM.
HALO, as previously discussed, brings notifications (conceptually derived from Facebook’s Chat Heads feature) from applications into a floating window and allows you to interact with that application. While this is similar to the Samsung Multi-window functionality, it differs in one key point: It is now open source! Any source-based ROM is able to make use of what the Paranoid Android team has done and bring this functionality to their users with minimal changes. From PA’s Google+ post, the developer of the ROM needs to look at these two commits:
HALO extends Android as it is based on the AOSP source, while also granting app developers the ability to bring the visual aspect to their application. Below is a nice overview of the project and if you like what you see, definitely head on over to the github commits and get involved.
May 6, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
The official Google Play store is now available on the Nook HD. That story and more are covered by Kevin, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is a discussion of the new Paranoid Android Halo and a custom kernel for the HTC One, which modifies its button’s function.
Kevin talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer Jayce talked about Code Katas and The Curse of Knowledge regarding App Development. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
May 5, 2013 By: Conan Troutman
Little more than a few days ago, there was word from the guys behind Paranoid Android that they were working on a new feature called Halo. Similar in form and function to the “chat heads” feature of Facebook Home, Halo was intended to bring a new level of multitasking to Paranoid Android ROMs by allowing the user to receive notifications from apps and act on them from a floating or “windowed” version of the app in question.
Despite still being at an early stage with a lot of development still to be done, the PA guys have clearly been hard at work over the past few days and decided to release some test builds featuring Halo for public consumption. This is by no means a final version and there will be bugs, some of which are mentioned in a recently posted FAQ for this new feature. There now seems to be a build available for most of the devices officially supported by PA, which now includes the Oppo Find 5. For those of you without an officially supported device, I doubt you will have to wait very long before this makes its way into many of the unofficial Paranoid Android ROMs that are out there.
All that remains now is to see how this functionality holds up in the long run, specifically in regard to playing havoc with Play Store apps, which may not take kindly to being manipulated in this way. There does not appear to be any sort of white list for completely compatible apps in place with Halo, and as to whether or not that results in the same challenges faced by the CyanogenMod after attempting to integrate Cornerstone remains to be seen. For the time being though, Halo seems to be very well received by PA fans.
These most recent builds can be downloaded from either the Google+ post linked above or from the relevant forum threads here on XDA which are linked below. Please note that there is currently no forum thread available for the Oppo Find 5.
Here at XDA, you’ve probably seen us talk about collaboration. The dictionary defines collaborating as “to work with another or others on a joint project.” We take collaboration seriously, so much so that we actually frown when we see members of the community not take it as seriously. What makes us even more upset is when manufacturers don’t take it seriously, though that rant is for another day.
There have been numerous instances of OEMs that have claimed to be “developer-friendly,” but whose actions spoke louder than their words. On the other hand, there are only a few instances of OEMs actually having their actions match their words, with one of those being Sony over the last 12-18 months and another being a relatively new entry to the Android world, Chinese manufacturer Oppo. If you recall we’ve spent some time discussing Oppo’s recent wins in the Android space, not the least of which is their GPLv2-required release of kernel source for the Find 5. On the surface this is not that noteworthy given it should already be done by default, however with Chinese manufacturers that is not a given. Given the negative track record of Chinese manufacturers adhering to licensing, Oppo is doing something extraordinarily rare by signaling a desire to position themselves in the Western market. Unlike other Chinese companies (Huawei comes to mind), Oppo is showing they have some understanding of, or are attempting to learn, what it takes to succeed.
As OEM Relations Manager for XDA, it is my job to contact OEMs and build a dialog with them. This usually starts with establishing a relationship where XDA, with its 5 million users and tremendous independent developers, and the respective OEM can begin to discuss ways to collaborate (there’s that word again) on win/win opportunities. Sometimes it is met with open arms, as has been the case with Oppo. When approached with the idea to work together with XDA in growing development, we immediately began to discuss ways to facilitate collaboration (!) to bring about a good relationship with the developer community. We also knew that in order to make any collaboration a win/win for both parties, there would have to be value for the OEM.
After those initial discussions, I spoke with some veteran CyanogenMod maintainers (and members of the now-defunct Team Hacksung) XDA Elite Recognized Developer Entropy512, and Recognized Developers XpLodWILD and nebkat, about their interest in taking on a new device and bringing CM to it. All three were definitely interested, and I began working together with them and Oppo to make it happen. After a few weeks, CM10.1 was brought to Nightly status by the team.
Oppo was ecstatic, and so recently I reached out to XDA Recognized Developers, and Paranoid Android developers, molesarecoming and aaronpoweruser, about their interest in such a project. As was expected, their answer was in the affirmative. And after just a few days, aaronpoweruser posted on G+ that he was close to having an alpha build of PA soon.
All of this hasn’t come easily though, given the state of Oppo’s kernel source. The kernel source that was released was not fully GPLv2 compliant as it was released late (though better than some other companies we could name), had different config files (debug worked, release didn’t), and the kernel source has not been updated even after they’ve made kernel updates on recent firmware updates. With all that being said, the teams have done a great job bringing their respective projects to where they are today. And with language and cultural barriers between our developers and theirs being what they are, Oppo does appear to be trying to overcome those issues.
We know you look forward to seeing the great things that are bound to come out of this collaboration. And to the other OEMs out there, take this as a suggestion: It doesn’t hurt to embrace the developer community, and only makes your stock rise in the eyes of that community. When that happens, the word will spread, and consumers (who incidentally are highly influenced by what members of that developer community have to say about your products) will follow with their currency. It’s a cycle which can, and should, be repeated. If you’re interested, contact me and XDA.
April 30, 2013 By: Conan Troutman
Paranoid Android, the popular AOSP based ROM for multiple devices, and multi-window functionality are two things that we have mentioned here on the XDA Portal several times before. It now seems as though the two are about to become quite closely acquainted following news that the Paranoid Android team are in the process of developing their own implementation of this much sought after feature.
Of course this kind of functionality is nothing new, Cornerstone allowed users to do three things at once before Paranoid Android had even seen the light of day and Samsung were still being harassed about updates for the original Galaxy S. It has, however, received a fair amount of recent publicity due to its inclusion as a standard feature on devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. We’ve also seen a surge in the popularity of apps such as Floating Stickies and Overlays, which allow users to achieve a kind of “windowed” multitasking experience. Given the amount of user demand for such a feature I guess it was inevitable that some of the most popular custom ROMs out there would begin trying to implement this right out of the box. Well, Cyanogenmod did previously try to integrate Cornerstone into CM9 but that didn’t go so well.
The difference with the news from Paranoid Android is that they will be attempting to create this modification from scratch and presumably avoid the same kind of problems faced by the CM team. In a Google+ post from the PA team, they state that their implementation will outshine the competition. For the moment, though, this is still in a very early stage and a lot more testing and development is still required. The video that accompanies the post shows apps running as standalone windows, almost like with floating widgets, which are triggered from the notification tray and retain the hybrid settings applied by the user. However, this is not how the feature will act in its final form. This is purely for testing, but does already look incredibly promising and only begs us to wonder just what shape will this take in its final and finished form.
Check out the G+ post above or the video below for more information and let us know your opinions in the comments.
March 29, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
CyanogenMod now comes with pie. Not cherry pie or apple pie, but it now features gesture controls similar to what’s found in Paranoid Android. That story and more are covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news, is an article about configuring ADB and compiling from source on Fedora KDE.
Jordan talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer Steve gives us an App Shootout of the Facebook app for the different mobile operating systems, XDA Developer TV Producer Kevin shows us even more about Tasker, and XDA Developer TV Producer TK released an Android app review of C Widget. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
If there’s one Android project out there that needs no introduction whatsoever, it’s CyanogenMod. The name itself has become synonymous with aftermarket development and is without a shadow of a doubt, the single most popular custom ROM available. At the time of writing, they can claim 3,960,665 unique installs across over 70 different devices with dozens more supported unofficially—and these are just the ones who have chosen to enable the usage statistics. The roots of the project can be traced back to the original HTC Dream/G1 and a modified version of Android 1.5 (otherwise known as Cupcake) posted right here on XDA under the title, “CyanogenMod – Optimizing the crap out of Android 1.5.” Amazingly, this device still has an active development community and has even been graced with the latest version of CM, 10.
Over the years CyanogenMod has continued to evolve and push the envelope of what the Android operating system is capable of. It boasts numerous features that many users would love to see incorporated into stock Android and the ethos of “optimizing the crap out of Android x.x” remains as true today as it did back in 2009. The only difference is that nowadays these optimizations are made by an international team of developers over dozens of devices. It’s this open source nature and ability for anyone to submit code to the CM repository that has helped make it such a success. There have been numerous additions to the ROMs features, some of them developed in house such as the Apollo music player and CM File Manager, some of them from outside sources, the latest of which is the popular Pie Controls first featured in the Paranoid Android ROM series.
Paranoid Android is another popular third party firmware which may not have been around as long or gained as much of a following as CyanogenMod, but certainly puts as much effort into taking the Android OS that little bit beyond its original capabilities. It was the first ROM to offer the “Hybrid Mode,” allowing user to choose between a phone or tablet UI on an app by app basis, and even alter the DPI value for certain applications. It was also the first ROM to incorporate Pie Controls, a similar version of which has recently been merged into the CyanogenMod project. While the code used in the original Paranoid Android Pie Controls is a unique creation, its conceptual origins though should probably be credited to Google, as this style of menu has been an experimental feature of the stock Webkit-based Android browser for quite a while now. Pie Control analogs have also been available outside of Paranoid Android ROMs for anyone running a rooted device, originally thanks to LMT Launcher and other third party apps since, proving to be incredibly popular with users.
It’s important to note that although the version of Pie Control in the latest CM nightlies is based on the one from Paranoid Android, it has been completely rewritten to minimize the possibility of any conflicts with existing CM code. What Pie Control actually does is allow the user to disable the ever present on screen software keys and use a gesture to activate a radial menu at either bottom or side of the screen, thereby enabling access to some of the most commonly used functions such as back, home, menu etc. It’s also possible to have information such as the current time and remaining battery displayed when the menu is triggered. This allows the user to free up valuable screen space previously occupied by those annoying (in my opinion) on-screen buttons. While these changes have been integrated to CM already, they might not be available for all devices just yet, and those devices with dedicated hardware keys will need to manually enable the on screen keys before they can utilize the new Pie Control. If it can be done, there will be a guide to doing it in your device specific forum.
Now, I don’t think anyone was ever in any doubt that the development community were ever going to stop trying to take Android to a level of functionality beyond the vanilla offerings from Google, but this certainly shows that the likes of the CyanogenMod team aren’t above incorporating the ideas of those outside of the project and giving us, the end user, the choice of using the best features out there. There’s even speculation that the upcoming Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie, will make use of these easy-on-the-eye, yet sometimes frustrating-on-the-fingers, radial menus. That would just be too obvious though, wouldn’t it?
Like it or not, hardware buttons are on their way out. Despite them still making an appearance on the latest flagships from HTC and Samsung, it’s pretty safe to assume we won’t see them on a future Nexus device, and it is these devices along with their latest updates that drive the development community. The currently used system of static, ever present software keys is a fairly inefficient use of real estate—even on the monster screen sizes we are now seeing devices released with—and I’d be highly surprised if Android 5.0 didn’t offer a better solution. Whether that’s full on gesture navigation similar to the recently unveiled Ubuntu Touch or something halfway between the two like, well, like Pie Control I guess, remains to be seen. No doubt the rumor mill will be working overtime in the lead up to Google I/O in May.
February 14, 2013 By: Samantha
Sony’s Small Apps debuted on the James Bond’s very own Xperia T, allowing the superspy to do some quick and simple maths calculations and jot down some quick reminders among other functions while having other applications running simultaneously. Useful to many Xperia users who have had received ports to their Xperia devices running stock ICS firmwares such as the Xperia Arc, Xperia P, and Xperia Ion, Sony Small Apps have also been ported to devices from any manufacturer running CyanogenMod versions 9 and 10 and Paranoid Android version 2.55.
Ported by XDA Forum Member c3ma138, they allow users to have floating applications running over other applications concurrently. Installation is relatively simple, requiring users with root access to flash the ROM-respective flash file in recovery mode on their devices and then installing an app called ‘SLauncher’ once flashing has finished and phone rebooted. Tested on a Samsung Galaxy SII running CyanogenMod 9 and 10, and a Sony Xperia S running CyanogenMod 10, c3ma138 assures that any Android device, regardless of manufacturer, running the compatible ROMs will be able to enjoy Sony’s Small Apps.
This is great news for CyanogenMod 9 and 10 and Paranoid Android 2.55 users, as they don’t often see ports of manufacturer-specific features. For more details on the port, please check the original thread.
February 11, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
With the mountain of snow on the east coast of America, you may have missed some of the news released on XDA-Developers this weekend. In this video, Jordan reviews all the important stories from this week. Jordan talks about the release of Paranoid Android 3 for some Nexus devices. Additionally, Jordan talks about learning to add the Jelly Bean lock screen on top of Samsung’s TouchWiz interface.
In application news, Jordan talks about easier file management with DatFM. Jordan talks about the new open source privacy solution OpenPDroid. Pull up a chair and check out this video. And if you any news to report, feel free to contact any XDA News Writer.
February 9, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
By now, you’ve no doubt heard of Paranoid Android. In fact, there’s a good chance that if you own the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 7, or Nexus 10; you’re either running the ROM yourself or you’ve given it a try in the past.
For the few unfamiliar, Paranoid Android’s defining characteristic is what they call Hybrid Engine. Contrary to what many believe, this is not “tablet mode,” though that is one of many things that can be accomplished using Hybrid Engine. Rather, Hybrid Engine allows you to select both dpi and layout on a per-app basis. Rather than being forced to modify the look of your entire device, you can optimize your applications to what works best for each and every one.
A new and important feature that has come to light in the recent beta builds, and now sees light in the official release of PA3 is the PIE control system. What this allows one to do is to disable onscreen buttons and use a swipe gesture to access various common functions, thereby freeing up valuable screen real estate. The menu can be seen in the header image above, as well as the video below.
Per-app color, another significant feature in PA3 and recent pre-release builds, allows you set system UI colors on a per-app basis. Want a black system bar for your launcher, but a blue one for Facebook? No problem. Have more eccentric choices in mind? That’s fine too.
The most recent (and most specific) addition is screen calibration for the Google Nexus 4. While the vast majority of third-party reviews have praised the device for its screen, build quality, responsiveness, and overall value; some have been quick to point out that the screen seems under-saturated, especially to those coming from overly saturated S-AMOLED devices. Rather than trying to offer a simple band-aid solution with RGB calibration, PA3 also corrects for the device’s gamma issues to give it the punch the IPS panel deserves. While you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who says that the Nexus 4 screen looks “bad,” the calibration has been met with much praise thus far, and the team only hopes that these changes are incorporated upstream.
Are you salivating yet? Those eager to get started should visit the threads below. Naturally, there will also be a plethora of unofficial ports for various unsupported devices. So if you’re looking for a build for your device, be sure to check in your device forum to see if someone’s already attempted porting the ROM. Even better, you could always try porting and building the ROM from source yourself.
December 21, 2012 By: Jimmy McGee
ArchLinux on the Transformer TF300T is only one of the stories this week on the Portal at XDA-Developers. Our friend Jordan quickly recaps all the news before the world ends. Jordan talks about the dangerous Exynos 4 security exploit. In other XDA Developer TV releases, Jordan talks about XDA Senior Moderator jerdog‘s Sony Xperia S video, XDA Developer TV Producer Jordan’s Top Stories of 2012 video, and XDA Developer TV Producer TK’s review of WiFi Mouse.
In CyanogenMod 10.1 news, Jordan talks about the unofficial release for the Motorola Droid RAZR and the official nightlies for the Transformer TF300T. Many more devices received releases this week, so pull up a chair and check out this video to find out which ones did!