January 28, 2013 By: Former Writer
Given that we focus our energies on development rather than theme creation, we don’t talk about themes very often. However, once in a while, something to aid the process or those looking for something extra appears, which is worth mentioning.
With so many themes shared on the site, it’s often hard to find a specific theme that meets every single aesthetic requirement you may have. T-Mobile and Sprint Samsung Galaxy S III users can now customize their own themes thanks to Morphology by XDA Recognized Themer rompnit, with contributions from many, many others.
The way that it works is that the theme pack is installed via the customization-friendly AROMA installer. This allows users to choose their theme elements individually. You first pick your install type. This allows you to choose between creating a custom theme, installing a prebuilt version, or restoring a backup. Next, you select from 15 different status bars and choose a clock style. After that, you customize the notification pulldown, choose from various icon sets, theme your framework, modify toggles, theme the dialer, and more.
This is one of the most comprehensive “build your own theme” packs ever created. Users practically choose how their entire ROM looks. Each step has a lot of options, so don’t be surprised if it takes a great deal of time deciding which options you want. For more details and the full feature list, check out the T-Mobile thread or the Sprint thread.
January 19, 2013 By: jerdog
At the end of last year, we started selling XDA cases with our friends at CruzerLite, and we’ve seen some phenomenal interest. Our current lineup is the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and the Google Nexus 4—but we want to add more. So we have decided to hold a poll and let the users choose which device(s) to add to our current lineup.
Below you will find some of the top devices at XDA. Please choose one from the list that you would like to see offered, and we will pick from the top 3 devices. The voting ends on February 15, so make sure you place your vote for the devices you love!
EDIT: The results are in, and displayed below. We’ll keep you updated as to the final options when they become available.
January 16, 2013 By: Haroon Q. Raja
The Samsung Galaxy S III is one of the best selling smartphones to date. As expected, it gets a lot of attention here at XDA due to high interest by both users and developers alike. For those of us who want to fully customize our devices, there are countless custom ROMs like CyanogenMod, AOKP, and Paranoid Android, each with advanced settings built-in that allow us to tweak many aspects of the UI. Though if you want to stick with the default TouchWiz-laden OS shipped with the device and still want to be able to tweak certain UI elements, there’s no shortage of mods for that either. XDA Senior Member gharrington has recently released one such mod that allows you to tweak several aspects of the status bar clock of the stock Galaxy S III firmware to your liking.
The mod adds options in the default Date and Time settings that let you center your clock on the status bar, show or hide AM/PM and the day of the week, or even hide the clock entirely. There is also a (work-in-progress) option to choose the size of the AM/PM display, but it isn’t currently functional and the developer has promised to fix it in an update.
While it is built for the XXELLA firmware, this mod should also work on LKC, LL5 and possibly other firmware versions as well—along with any modified ROMs based on these firmwares. As always, you can find more information and the download link in the forum thread.
If you haven’t heard, and we’re not sure how you haven’t, there has been active development towards an open source bootloader for Samsung devices. In a nutshell, it involves loading the open source bootloader to an SD card, and using some hardware hacking skills to boot from it. All of this had to start somewhere, and among the first things required is finding the UART. It is now possible to identify it on the US variants of the Samsung Galaxy S III.
If you hadn’t guessed, this bit of hardware hacking awesomeness was done by XDA Elite Recognized Developer AdamOutler. This is very similar to work Adam has been doing for the Samsung Galaxy Camera, which you can find here. Why would this be helpful? AdamOutler explains it best:
UART provides eyes before any other method of debugging (aside from JTAG) begins to work. UART is the first thing to do in order to make a device into a development board.
The process of getting it is a little complicated, and if you’re a beginner, will probably take some time. Users will have to pull the kernel from the device, add some command line parameters to enable UART, and flash the kernel back to the device. Since you’ll need Ubuntu (or at least a Debian based distro) to follow along, you’ll be using Heimdall to do the flashing. Then, it’s a simple matter of tearing down the device without breaking it and probing the correct spot. Adam has uploaded a video that demonstrates the entire process the exact spot for UART. As can be expected, there is some danger because you are tearing open your device. Be sure to use the utmost caution and follow the directions.
As Adam states in the thread, he sometimes does these hacks live via a Google+ Hangouts live stream. They are a lot of fun to watch, give you a chance to learn some new things, and let you watch the magic as it happens. To catch the next one, circle Adam on Google+ and keep an eye out.
For the full video, all the details, and more, check out the original thread. Or, if you want to watch it happen, here’s Adam’s video:
January 13, 2013 By: Haroon Q. Raja
Many Android device manufacturers ship devices with their custom skins such as Samsung TouchWiz, Motorola MotoBLUR, and HTC Sense, among others. In addition, several carriers also bundle certain apps along with their devices that are by no means necessary, and are not a part of Android. While there are several ways of removing all of this bloat, most of these methods involve manually deleting files using a root-level file browser. If you don’t wish to bother with the manual method of removing bloatware, PalaTool offers some assistance for Samsung Galaxy S III i9300 owners.
Developed by XDA Forum Member shahar2k9, and based on the excellent AROMA script for recovery-based installations, PalaTool (short for Paladin Tool) not only allows you to remove several bloatware apps and services from your device, but also lets you add Nexus 4 style UI elements, the latest CyanogenMod APN list, and certain Android 4.2 stock apps. Furthermore, it also lets you format your /system, /data, and /cache partitions, as well as wipe Dalvik cache. Obviously, these tasks are already possible on essentially all custom recoveries, but it is nice to streamline the experience and do everything from one interface.
Since the tool is in AROMA format, you need a custom recovery installed to use it. While the tool was originally meant for the Galaxy S III i9300, other Samsung devices with similar OS builds. That said, the Android 4.2 stock apps and Nexus 4 UI elements should work on any device running Jelly Bean (and perhaps ICS too), and the CyanogenMod APN list should work on any device running ICS or later.
You can find the download link as well as the complete list of removable bloatware in the forum thread.
January 11, 2013 By: Former Writer
If there is a way to make an existing button to do something different, developers will figure out a way to do it. Sometimes the volume rockers can function as skip buttons for the music player. The issue isn’t getting it to work, but getting it to work right. For the US variants of the Galaxy S III, the volume rocker as a skip button mod has been done correctly.
XDA Recognized Developer loserskater has released the proper way to make the volume buttons work as skip buttons. Unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately) for lazy people, only the long way has been released. So if users want this mod, they’ll have to learn to decompile some APK files. If one is wondering, it is different from existing mods. Here is loserskater’s explanation:
-The difference between this and the previous mod is that sending the media button presses would send an ordered broadcast and the app with the highest priority would take the broadcast and see if it needed it and then pass it along if it didn’t. Well most audio apps haven’t been updated to use this method. And if you changed it to just broadcast instead of ordered all media players would get the broadcast so you’d have a bunch of apps trying to all play music. This uses private apis that only the system can use and it’s the same method the lockscreen controls use which is controlled by the audio service instead of broadcasts. I hope that all makes sense
In case that doesn’t make sense, here’s the simplified version: This uses the same method as the lock screen music controls for the volume rockers. Because of the private APIs used in accessing the audio service rather than using a broadcast, you run in to none of the traditional pitfalls. While using an ordered broadcast should work, not all apps take advantage of this.
For the full method, check out the original thread.
January 5, 2013 By: Former Writer
As devices get newer and more powerful, the software that comes with them gets bigger and more complex. In the old days, ROMs were often smaller than 100MB. Now, on the newest devices, the stock ROM can be over 1 GB in size. There are some potential problems with this. Uploading a ROM can take longer, downloading a ROM can take longer, and storing ROMs on your device can take up a lot of space. Now, there is a tutorial available to help cut back on those file sizes.
XDA Elite Recognized Developer and TV Producer AdamOutler wrote a tutorial to help decrease the size of stock tar ROMs that users can flash via Odin3 v3 and higher. As Adam explains:
I’ve been working with this for a bit and tonight I found that Odin will accept tar.md5.gz files. This is important for GNote2 users as the stock ROM is 1.2Gigs! You can get an extra 10-40% compression and 100% gaurantee that the files arrive to your users computer in the condition that you packaged them using this method. I have not found a guide on using the gz format so I thought I would write one up.
This can be quite useful because if you like to keep a stock tar around in case of emergencies, following his guide can make the file smaller and more manageable for those with limited storage. For developers who upload tars frequently, it can shorten upload times, as well as lower download times for the end user.
There are a few things to keep in mind. Once the tar.md5.gz is run through Odin, it loses the .gz and is extracted into a standard tar file again. This results in a full sized Odin ROM. It’s not really an issue, but it is something to keep in mind. Adam also gives an important warning for Verizon Galaxy Note 2 owners to be cautious about flashing after an IROM unlock:
Note to Verizon GNote2 users: Stay away from using Odin after IROM unlock as flashing a package intended for another device will perma-lock your device into another carrier’s bootloaders. Especially stay away from GS3 as the displays are not compatible.
In addition to the compression tutorial, AdamOutler has also updated his Hidden Menu application. It now includes an IMEI restore tutorial adapted from XDA Senior Member <:GeeK:> to work on the Verizon Galaxy Note 2. The tutorial will help with two things: backing up and restoring the NV items (IMEI, IMSI, and more).
It doesn’t always make the front pages, but device security is still one of the most important topics for Android users. Whether it’s for protection from exploits that can brick a phone or apps that have permissions they really don’t need, users and developers are always on the lookout for potentially dangerous applications. One app some use is XDA Forum Member svyat‘s PDroid, which is now ported to the Verizon Samsung Galaxy S III.
XDA Recognized Developer TrevE has released the port for the Verizon Galaxy S III. It functions just like PDroid is supposed to. For those who don’t know what it does exactly, here’s an explanation from TrevE:
PDroid is a (awesome) security framework similar to superuser but allows selective blocking of app permissions. It creates a “proxy” between the actual permissions and the PDroid framework which allow passing of different return data.
Because of the proxy created this method is better than apps which just remove permissions from manifests because it should not cause any fcs- Apps will never know the difference. It also allows patching permissions such as location/android id/camera to return spoofed data.
PDroid is a very complex mod across many parts of framework.
In more simple terms, PDroid allows users to control what permissions applications can have. This is an excellent app because it can stop a malicious app dead in its tracks, before it has a chance to do any damage by accessing features or information that you don’t want to grant. And since it uses a proxy method to prevent unwanted access, this prevents the force closes present with other methods of permission blocking. Any Android user who wants to micromanage app permissions should definitely give this a look.
To learn more, go to the original thread.
While Samsung may not always update every device with the urgency that we as users all crave, one thing they definitely got right was releasing the same device for multiple carriers with only minimal changes. This makes it very easy for developers and users from different carriers to work together to fix problems, develop ROMs, and have other sorts of fun. For instance, there is now a guide that walks users through the process of porting any ROM from a US variant of the Galaxy S III to any other US variant.
XDA Recognized Developer PureMotive released the tutorial, and it helps end users port both TouchWiz and AOSP-derived ROMs from one variant to the next. As the devices have strikingly similar hardware, porting ROMs requires only a few changes. As PureMotive outlines for TouchWiz ROMs:
In the ROM you want to port – delete /system/etc/apns-conf.xml
Replace the apns-conf.xml you just deleted with the one from the ROM for your carrier
Open up /system/build.prop in Notepad++
Locate every instance of d2att, d2tmo, or d2spr and replace it with d2vzw (Use CTRL+F if you have to)
Save the build.prop after all changes are made
That’s essentially all that it takes to make a ROM compatible with your device. These instructions were written specifically for porting to the Verizon variant of the Galaxy S III, but it can be used on other devices with very minor changes. Porting an AOSP-based ROM requires a little more work, but the idea is pretty much the same. Just make sure that the source ROM is from another US variant, and not from the International SGS3!
To see the full method, check out the original thread.
December 27, 2012 By: Former Writer
It is not very often that we throw around the words “game changer.” There have been a great deal of impressive developments here at XDA over the years. However, game changers are indeed a rarity. There have been a couple of recent breakthroughs on the Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy Camera, and other Samsung Exynos-based devices.
XDA Elite Recognized Developers adamoutler and Rebellos have figured out how to boot from the SD card. We’re not talking chroot style dual booting, either. We’re talking full boot with an open source bootloader. In addition, they also have Fastboot working on the Galaxy Camera. As adamoutler explains:
What’s this mean? We can now work INSIDE the Samsung TrustZone on production devices! This means some serious debugging of bootloaders is possible. What does this REALLY mean? It means that not only do we have a way to get away from Samsung closed source bootloaders, but we can now boot TOTALLY from SDCard on the Galaxy Camera and the Galaxy S3…. What’s that mean? We can fix brick-bugged Galaxy S3 devices!
There is still a lot of work to be done though, as is outlined here:
1. EMMC Disable hardware mod (can be undone later)
2. UART hookups for debugging and working in fastboot mode.
3. attempting to rework GS3 Ramdisk for SDCard boot.
4. recreating the proper partition structure on a 16 gig.
This is huge news. Users of devices with Exynos processors now have a second option besides booting from the usual EMMC. The mod is far from complete, but with this mod in place, it is literally impossible to permanently brick at least the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Camera. There is no doubt that more devices will follow in time. Instead of recovering the EMMC chip and booting from that again, one must perform a simple hardware mod and boot straight from a SD card. If you happen to brick again, just replace the SD card.
In addition, being able to use an open source bootloader means that users no longer have to worry about flashing a locked bootloader to save their device. To make things even better, Adam says other things are possible as well. These include booting alternate operating systems, but really, the possibilities are endless. Adam also touches briefly on this mod in his latest video, Best Hacks of 2012. There is likely going to be a lot more about this development as it develops, so keep your eyes peeled.
To keep tabs on this development in progress, check out the original thread.
December 18, 2012 By: Former Writer
Carriers in the United States (other than Sprint) generally aren’t fans of Google Wallet. According to Verizon, it’s because of Google Wallet’s “secure element”, but just about everyone knows it’s really because T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon are getting ready to launch their own NFC payment app, called Isis. US Samsung Galaxy S III variants now have an app that installs and enables Google Wallet quickly and painlessly.
XDA Senior Member Prl91 released an application that takes the Google Wallet installation process and turns it into a one-click solution. Of course, you’ll need root access. The app is free and available in the Google Play Store. Here is the full list of supported devices and requirements to run:
Currently Supports: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and US Cellular Samsung Galaxy S3′s.
Requires ROOT, an UNLOCKED BOOTLOADER, and BUSYBOX.
Wallet Installer will install Google Wallet on most US based Samsung Galaxy S3′s.
The process to install Google Wallet isn’t difficult, but it’s a little tedious. Users have to edit the build.prop, install the proper NFC libs, set up Google Wallet, then edit the build.prop back to its original values. Depending on whether you are running ICS, JB, and AOSP, the process can differ a little bit. The app does all of this for all of the supported devices by itself. If you’re a fan of Google Wallet, then this is the app you’re looking for.
For additional details, check out the original thread.
One of the first things many developers and users do when obtaining a new device or a new firmware update is figure out what’s wrong with it. Fortunately for bug hunters (and unfortunately for everyone else) there is always something wrong, even with the most popular and polished devices. However, there is almost always a fix made available. Now, there is a fix for at least one of the WiFi roaming bugs for the Samsung Galaxy S III.
XDA Forum Member felixchris released a hack that fixes at least one of the three potential WiFi roaming bugs. That means there are two that aren’t fixed, but a step forward is a step forward. Out of the three, only bug number three on the list is fixable. Here is felixchris’ explanation on which ones are which:
- If the phone now connects to AP2 and shows a high signal strength, you are observing the Galaxy S2 bug –> Bug 1 in the list
- If the phone still connects to AP1 and shows a low signal strength, you are observing the Nexus bug –> Bug 2 in the list
- If the signal strength seems to increase while getting closer to AP2, but then the wifi icon disappears briefly and comes back after a few seconds, and the web radio stream drops, you are observing the Galaxy S3 bug, and this workaround will help you. –> Bug 3 in the list
In these examples, AP1 and AP2 are WiFi access points. The bugs deal with the device not being able to manage two connections very well. Bug 3 on the list is the one that is fixable with a hack.
There are two methods to apply the fix. One is a version that doesn’t require a custom recovery, otherwise known as the old fashioned long way. The other involves flashing a zip in a custom recovery. Once installed, Bug 3 shouldn’t be an issue any longer.
For more details, check out the original thread.
December 17, 2012 By: Former Writer
Root exploits are often quite a good thing. There are many that only work on certain individual devices. However, there are some that work on a whole bunch of devices. An example of the latter is a root exploit by XDA Recognized Developer Bin4ry that works on a variety of devices. And now we have news of a dangerous, new exploit that works on Exynos 4210- and 4412-based devices.
XDA Forum Member alephzain released the exploit that affects pretty much any device with an Exynos 4412 or 4210 processor. This includes the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Samsung Galaxy S III, Meizu MX, and the Galaxy S II, among many others. Here’s how alephzain explains the root method:
Recently discover a way to obtain root on S3 without ODIN flashing.
The security hole is in kernel, exactly with the device /dev/exynos-mem.
This device is R/W by all users and give access to all physical memory … what’s wrong with Samsung ?
Its like /dev/mem but for all.
Three libraries seems to use /dev/exynos-mem:
Essentially, this exploit can be used to root any device with the aforementioned processors. What’s more, this method wouldn’t require an Odin flash like most current root methods. However, this exploit could be dangerous. Not only could be used to acquire root access, but for malicious applications as well. So developers will have a fun time helping to fix the issues while using the exploit for root.
For more details, check out the original thread. Do keep in mind, though, that this is posted in the new Samsung Galaxy Note II developer-only forum, so don’t post saying thanks or anything as the thread will be used for developers to develop things only.