September 22, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Not too long ago, we talked about the new camera application Focal by XDA Elite Recognized Developer XpLoDWilD that made its debut in CyanogenMod 10.2 nightlies just a couple of months back. At the time, several community members expressed their wishes for the application to be available in standalone form. Now after an interesting turn of events caused in part by a change in direction for the large scale multi-device ROM, the application is finally available for users of any ROM to use.
Just as we described before, Focal brings several key features to the table, all of which lead to a better overall camera experience. The most notable of these changes include an open source replacement for Google’s closed source Photo Sphere, an improved post-shot image review paradigm, spot metering, double-tap to quick capture, and various additional image capture modes. Additionally, device-specific features are available for certain handsets. For example, you can adjust shutter speed on certain Sony devices.
We’re happy to see this camera app distributed in a way that allows for a good deal of the community to enjoy. Make your way over to the application thread to get started. And if you would like to peer into the source, head over to the project’s Github.
September 21, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Not too long ago, we gave praise to the open source application Simple Explorer. At that time, we noted that the app brought a great user interface and streamlined functionality. We also stated that we were left longing for root functionality. Luckily, however, this was on XDA Senior Member DF1E‘s list of features to add.
Now after some time has passed, DF1E has gone ahead and added root-level file management to Simple Explorer. Root-level delete, move, and copy functionality was added in version 1.8 (August 28), with root-level rename and creation added in 1.8.1 (September 12). Other minor tweaks, bug fixes, and optimizations have also been added throughout the revisions since our last article.
Now that Simple Explorer has a much more complete feature set, there’s little reason to not give this open source gem a try. To learn more and download the newly root-friendly goods, head over to the application thread.
September 21, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
We’ve given much coverage recently to applications that simulate the Moto X‘s Active Notifications functionality on other devices. Since applications already exist to bring this functionality in a non ROM-specific manner, you may be wondering why we would feature a ROM-based solution. Well, when these additions are made to a fully open source ROM, with commits clearly visible and usable by other developers, we pay close attention.
When deciding what new features to add to ChameleonOS, XDA Senior Member 0xD34D decided that the ROM should incorporate functionality similar to the Moto X’s most known and copied feature. Rather than just adding the code and not sharing it, the developer has opened up the code so that others can use it in their own ROMs. Coming in at five commits (three to android_frameworks_base and two to Settings), the code is easily transplantable to other ROMs. However, since ChameleonOS started off by basing itself on CyanogenMod, ROMs that start from another base may have unresolved dependancies.
So what do you get in this implementation of the feature? The features, as stated by the developer:
- Instantly turns the device screen on and displays notifications as they arrive
- Up to 8 notifications displayed in a horizontal strip that can be viewed by touching the notification icon
- Short notification description can be displayed around the outside of the center ring
- Touch the center ring notification to view the full notification
- Unlock the device, open the app for the current notification or dismiss the current notification
- Set a re-display time to have active display remind you of your pending notifications
- Adjustable brightness level for when active display turns the screen on
- Pocket mode which allows active display to turn on once you remove the device from your pocket or bag
More information about ChameleonOS’s implementation can be found in the feature thread. To learn more about the specific commits the developer added to bring Active Notifications to ChameleonOS, head over to this post.
September 15, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
A few days ago, we took a look at an Xposed module by XDA Senior Member defim aimed at allowing users to choose which apps launch at boot. That app works by blocking the BOOT_COMPLETED command. What if you could block other intents from reaching Android’s BroadcastReceiver? As it turns out, defim has you covered for this as well, with his app ReceiverStop.
Just like Boot Manager, ReceiverStop is an Xposed Module. In other words, you first need XDA Recognized Developer rovo89‘s fantastic Xposed Framework (thread) to play. And just like other Xposed modules, installation is a breeze. Simply install the module APK and activate it using the Xposed Installer GUI. Using the app is easy as well. Simply open the main interface, access the apps you wish to limit, and disable the intents that you don’t want the app to receive.
It is important to note that this modification, as with any other that controls the way in which apps behave, may occasionally have unexpected results. That said, since you can always remove limited intents or disable the module entirely, experimentation is safe and easy.
Head over to the module thread to get started.
September 15, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Not too long ago, we featured a brief guide aimed at helping users use Link2SD in order to increase apparent internal memory. The program cited, however, is only one of various options that can connect your /data and /sd-ext paths. Mounts2SD by XDA Recognized Contributor dk_zero-cool accomplishes this, and also provides users with heaps of additional functionality that you may find useful.
Starting life out as a simple SD-Ext script (without the use of symlinks), Mounts2SD’s functionality has grown considerably. In addition to the script itself, there is an app that serves as the front end, allowing you to easily view the configuration and more. It also has grown in core functionality to control your swap space, mount optimizations, cache, and much more. Naturally, the original functionality is still present. You are still able to move data between /data and /sd-ext. But now, you have additional options to move content to other folders such as /data/media or a combination of locations.
September 14, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
Part of the fun of the Android customization experience is tailoring everything to our liking. Naturally, this extends to visual tweaking with themes, and the like. And if you like to get down and dirty with the options, you probably don’t want to settle for any given prepackaged theme, opting instead to select all of the parameters yourself.
To bring a cohesive and integrated theming experience, XDA Senior Member FemBlack has created XblastTools. The modification comes in the form of an Xposed module, and as such requires XDA Recognized Developer rovo89‘s versatile Xposed Framework (thread) to run. With the module installed, you are given a plethora of visual customization options including clock color, custom clock text, data color, rotation options, status indicator colors, RAM usage in the recent apps panel, CRT effect for screen off, notification ticker color, toast notification color, and much more.
While the application is normally available on Google Play as a paid app, FemBlack has made the APKs available for free for the XDA community as attachments on the thread’s OP. If you’ve been looking for an all-inclusive visual tweaking tool, head over to FemBlack’s module thread and give this a go.
September 8, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
If you’re running an older device as your daily driver or are just something of a hoarder, you will have likely run into your storage limits at one point or another. As someone who got his Android start with the Google Nexus One, I know the feeling all too well. And while I have since moved on to devices with more internal storage that I can ever dream of filling, not everyone has a recent device. Plus, you never know when you’re going to install a few more games.
In order to help make the best of your available storage options, many have taken to using Link2SD to extend their application storage over to their SD card. XDA Forum Member acermedo has created a quick guide to walk you through the process of partitioning your SD card and getting Link2SD working properly.
This works by reformatting your physical micro SD card to also have an EXT partition using a PC-based partition tool. Then, the app is used to link this to the device’s internal storage. Optimally, this is done on devices with physical SD cards, which can be accessed via USB mass storage. Naturally, this will not work with devices that only have eMMC internal storage accessed through Media Transfer Protocol. That is because low-level access is required to do the repartition. Along those lines, it will likely work on devices that use a separate mount point for internal storage via USB Mass Storage (not MTP), but there will be absolutely no speed gain this way–only storage space gain.
Head over to the guide thread to get started.
September 1, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
We’ve recently talked quite a bit about the fantastic Xposed Framework by XDA Recognized Developer rovo89, along with some help from Recognized Contributor Tungstwenty. The powerful and versatile framework allows users to quickly and easily apply a wide range of modifications. Because modules are installed as APKs rather than flashed through recovery, undoing a modification is as simple as disabling its module and uninstalling the application. However, there’s room for a few additional tweaks in even the mighty Xposed Framework.
XDA Forum Member WisdomSky created a custom installer based on Xposed build 2.1.4 that gives users a few tweaks when choosing between modules to apply. For starters, users are given additional possible actions when a module is clicked from the modules list. Next, the debug log tab is now color coded for increased readability. You can also convert the logs into either HTML or BBCode format, so that you can retain the colors when sharing your logs either here in our forums or elsewhere on the web. Finally, you can customize the order in which modules are executed, allowing for better compatibility in case any given module is dependant on a previous module.
If you’ve needed to control the module execution order or would just like clearer logs, these tweaks help make the already fantastic Xposed Framework just a little bit more powerful. Head over to the original thread to get started.
When available time is at a minimum and you’re trying to perform tasks as efficiently as possible, multitasking is key. And in order to best do this, it is important to have easy access to your common applications, most often used functions, and relevant information. Luckily the freedom of Android allows us to add this functionality when necessary with the appropriate add-on application.
XDA Forum Member leducbao aims to make multitasking more efficient with his application Sidebar Plus. Currently in its first beta, the app creates various sidebars of your choosing. You can put various items in the sidebars such as apps, contacts, commonly accessed settings, shortcuts, and DashClock extensions. Furthermore, you can add widgets to the sidebars for glanceable information. You can also create multiple bars, as well as change the visuals and trigger options for the bars.
Get the goods and test the beta over in the application thread. Make sure you leave feedback for the developer as he further refines his app.
August 21, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
As we all already know, not all applications play nicely with a user’s internal storage. Furthermore, there are tons of additional waste files on most users’ internal storage thanks to bug reports, unneeded log files, and more—and let’s not get started on files and folders such as thumbs.db and .DS_Store left by our desktop operating systems after mounting our mobile devices.
Thankfully, XDA Recognized Developer Dark3n has done something about this problem, after getting some inspiration from a thread in which a user was looking for a solution to this very problem. Developed into much more than a simple internal storage cleaning tool, SD Maid is a fairly general purpose utility that takes care of the mess on your storage, as well as lets you do some nifty tricks such as uninstall applications without removing their application data (handy if you wish to reinstall at a later time). SD Maid also functions as a root-enabled file manager, it can remove Play Store search history, it gives you an overview of your most space-hogging files, it can freeze and unfreeze applications, and it has the ability to remove empty directories.
Needless to say, such a utility is quite useful for those who value order and cleanliness. So what are you waiting for? Head over to the application thread to bask in your OCD.
Every so often, an OEM will do things right. Well, nearly right anyway—right enough at least for their stock ROMS to only need some minor tweaks before they are almost perfect. More often than not though, these tweaks are things that can be tricky to implement for the average user—a user who will often find himself looking to install a custom ROM that is pretty close to stock with these desired tweaks added in. Usually that means downloading a pretty large file and then following the obligatory backup/flash/restore process that many of us now have down to a fine art. It shouldn’t have to be this way though, and luckily it isn’t. You just might not know it yet.
You may or may not have heard of the Xposed Framework, the brainchild of XDA Recognized Developer rovo89. If you’re already familiar with this particular mod, there’s really no need for me to tell you how awesome it is. You’re excused and can go play outside. If you aren’t already familiar with the framework, take a seat and listen up. While the Xposed Framework certainly isn’t a new thing, it doesn’t get nearly as much recognition as it deserves, and it’s time to do something about that.
According to the developer, Xposed works as follows:
“Some technical details:
I extended the /system/bin/app_process executable to load a JAR file on startup. The classes of this file will sit in every process (including the one for system services) and can act with their powers. And even more: I have implemented something that allows developers to replace any method in any class (may it be in the framework, systemui or a custom app). This makes Xposed very powerful. You can change parameters for the method call, modify the return value or skip the call to the method completely – it’s all up to you! Also replacing or adding resources is easy.”
What that means is that modifications (known as Xposed modules) can be made to any app or element of the OS itself by simply coding the desired change, packing it into its own APK, and installing to the device. The Xposed Framework takes care making sure it gets to where it needs to go and stays there. This eliminates the need to decompile the specific item you’re modifying or creating different versions for different ROMs and devices. There may be a need to alter an Xposed module after a major change in Android itself, for example 4.1 to 4.2, but let’s face it: That’s a fairly infrequent occurrence. No files on the device itself are modified, and this means that in the event something does go wrong, returning the device to a stable state is no more complicated than flashing a zip to disable the framework. That’s right, no more lengthy and storage consuming nandroid backup process every time something goes wrong.
Installation is incredibly quick and painless, considering the scope of this utility. Simply grab the Xposed Installer from the forum thread and sideload to your device, open up the app once it’s installed and click on “Install/Update,” reboot the device, and you’re good to go. No seriously, it’s that simple.
Installing each individual module is as easy as sideloading the APK, installing, activating it via the Xposed application and rebooting. Some mods will offer a user interface depending on how much functionality they are capable of, others just have one specific purpose and need no attention at all.
So what kind of modifications are we talking about here? Well, if you can think of tweak then chances are it can be packed into an Xposed module. Think of the added little extras that make your favourite custom ROM so appealing. Those are the sort of things that Xposed was created for.
A perfect example is Smart Alarm Icon, created by XDA Forum Member Mantelinho. This mod will configure the alarm icon in your status bar to only be displayed at a predetermined period before the alarm is due to sound. Let’s say you have your alarm set Monday through Friday. You can leave the alarm set all week but won’t have to see that little clock shaped reminder of Monday morning hanging around in your status bar over the weekend.
There a multitude of mods out there for various purposes, and you can bet that we’ll be highlighting as many as we can in the future. In the meantime, you can check out a repository for various modifications that was put together by Developer Admin pulser_g2. There is also a development tutorial aimed at getting people to create their own modules and making this the single most powerful tool for customisation there is.
Just when you thought this whole thing couldn’t possibly get any more awesome, it’s all open source. Be sure to check out the original forum thread on the Xposed Framework for more information.
Last month, we brought you news about Team Win’s baby, the recovery known as TWRP. Back then, it had been just updated to version 2.4 and it included a bunch of new features and stability improvements. Everyone was happy, but as the old saying goes, there is always room for improvement. So with that in mind, and considering that our devs do not like to sit still, the recovery created by XDA Recognized Developer Dees_Troy and team has kept evolving. The newest and most stable version is now 188.8.131.52, and it is looking more and more like a UI that you would find while inside the Android environment. The new version comes loaded with many surprises and a special guest appearance from XDA Elite Recognized Developer Chainfire.
So, what is included in this version of TWRP you ask? Well, for starters, several devices have been given the gift of controlling the screen brightness, so you can indulge in some heavy flashing without waking up your significant other. Also, the recovery now allows your screen to turn off after 60 seconds of inactivity. This last feature is a fantastic way to preserve the life of your battery and screen as well, so for those of you who only flashed with a charger connected because you are afraid that the screen will drain your battery, you no longer have to worry about that being an issue. There are also many improvements for backups, especially for to exFAT. Dees_Troy cleaned code and made adjustments that result in this process being much faster than before. Last but not least, TWRP now offers the option to check for root AND inject SuperSU if you don’t have it. In other words, this recovery now offers a complete set of options that makes most other manual processes obsolete. This is a great option for those who prefer to stick with stock ROMs but only want root without having to go through the hassle of pushing the su binary by themselves.
As always, the recovery is a work in progress and even though the devs test things thoroughly, there is the off chance that you may run into some bugs. If you do, please follow the dev’s guidelines and report them to their github bug tracker since it is very complicated to follow bugs on so many threads across XDA. Having said that, feedback is always appreciated, so don’t forget to leave it there in the threads as well.
Team Win Recovery Project 2.x, or twrp2 for short, is a custom recovery built with ease of use and customization in mind. It’s a fully touch driven user interface – no more volume rocker or power buttons to mash. The GUI is also fully XML driven and completely theme-able. You can change just about every aspect of the look and feel.
You can find more information in the master thread including links to device specific threads.
[Thanks jerdog for the tip!]
February 25, 2013 By: egzthunder1
Android 4.1 brought quite a few surprises, improvements, and extensions in functionality since it was introduced last year. Needless to say, many of the OS’s features require hardware elements, such as NFC and Beam functionality. The concept is simple and it works quite well. However, the implementation of this on Google’s AOSP as well as manufacturer’s variants is limited to a few things such as pictures or video. Having said that, there is more to life than just sharing visual media. What if you wanted to share a song, a document, or an APK? Sure, you can always try to send them via WiFi direct, e-mail, DropBox, and a myriad of other alternatives. However, again, the current implementation of the service is limited
Due to limitations being the fuel for innovation, XDA Forum Member MohammadAG thought about the possibility to use the NFC API to do a little more. In this particular case, he took upon the file type limitation and created a small add-on to enable Beam transfer from any app (so as long as the app has the ability to use the Share Intent). What it does is it adds a new option to transfer via Android Beam to the “Share” menu on most apps. The add-on is capable to transmitting the file to any other NFC-capable Android 4.1 device, and the dev also claims that this even works on the NFC-equipped Nokia N9. Having said that, the latter will only act as a receiver but it is more than plenty as you are not likely to try and send too many things from a Nokia N9 anyways.
Just remember that NFC is not magic or an instant faster-than-lightning data transfer service. NFC is just used to create the connection between the two devices in question, and Bluetooth really takes care of the transfer process itself. Please take this for a spin and leave any feedback you may have.
Ever wanted to send someone a document, a song, a video, or just about any type of file?
With File Beam, you can!
You can find more information in the original thread.