It appears that the long standing marriage between Samsung and Google may be coming to an end. According to Forbes, the Galaxy line creators will allow its users to download a beta version of Nokia Here Maps in October 2014, when the rounded Samsung Galaxy Gear S hits store shelves, and this might be the beginning of the end for Google’s OS on Samsung devices.
Samsung is pushing hard to replace Android with Tizen, their own, Linux-based operating system, which is as much Google-free as only possible. The adoption of Here Maps is the cherry on top of this rather turbulent relationship. It’s obvious that the whole story between the two companies is about money. Google is pushing OEMs to use its own sets of instructions regarding applications, and its really hard to imagine a situation where a Samsung, Sony, or any other phone is sold without Gmail, Chrome, or Hangouts present. To access Google Services, OEMs must create their own firmware with Google’s influence. The position of Google Search, Gmail, Hangouts is fixed, so companies like Samsung can’t move them. What hurts Samsung the most is not being able to put on their own search engine, ads, and other commercial software–and we know how much OEMs love bloatware.
A few weeks ago, Amazon released their very first smartphone, the Fire Phone. FireOS is nothing more than a skinned Android 4.0.3 without Google services. AOSP is a great thing and we all know how many things can be done with its source code. Good things. The majority of ROMs we see here on XDA are built from source, and some corporations have decided to do the same thing. Google may be a victim of their own strategy, but to be honest, it will never happen. Google is simply too big, too powerful, too greedy, and has the best managers in the world to fall into oblivion and leave the field for other companies.
This leads us to another question: What will happen with Samsung and other OEMs that try to release themselves from Mountain View’s clutches? An answer seems to be interesting. CNN reported that Xiaomi overtook the Samsung’s position in China, the biggest mobile market in the world. This fact may lead to conclusion that Samsung is slowly losing its position as a mobile world leader. We can already see devices from OEMs like Oppo, OnePlus, and other Asian OEMs that play a fair game (*knock, knock Mediatek…*) and find many thousands of buyers. It’s only a matter of time to find these devices in carrier deals–not just in North America, but also other continents. Samsung might be forced to reduce the price of their devices or simply look for another sector of the market to make big money. Leaving Android to Tizen is a reflection of the bad situation the OEM is currently in.
Tizen is a good OS for smartwatches, maybe even better than Android Wear, because it doesn’t require so much energy. Samsung has been working hard to push the Samsung Z, the first Tizen-based phone, to the Russian market. The company didn’t manage to make it yet and we are seeing pretty much the same Bada OS story in new guise. Tizen is much more user friendly than Bada, but this OS is not a threat to Android in any kind. Android will remain as a major force in mobile ecosystem for a long time, because Google will do everything to keep their OS on top.
HTC is having the same problem, as they decided to focus only on premium devices by abandoning the low-end device market. This could also be considered a mistake, because despite their lower profit margin, cheap devices can be sold by the millions. Look what Sony did with Xperia X8 or LG with their L3 models. Samsung is putting too much attention on premium devices, while the Asian market is getting some cheaper alternatives from rising competitors.
It remains unknown whether the decision of pushing the Nokia Maps to Android is a good or a bad move. Google may feel threatened and exclude Samsung from its other programs. But overall, this is simply a shame, because the Samsung Galaxy Nexus was a decent device. The upcoming months should be very interesting and provide us lots of topics to discuss.
What do you think about Samsung and Google’s growing relationship tension? Will they remain pals after all, or will their paths never again cross? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
September 5, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
Samsung announced the Galaxy Note 4 and the Galaxy Note Edge and Sony announced the Xperia Z3 and the Smartwatch 3! That and much more news is covered by Jordan when he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is the announcement of MultiROM being Ported to the Moto E and the Moto G and be sure the check out the article talking about webOS becoming LuneOS. 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 NLPUnBounce. Then TK talked about two solar charging options. And later TK gave us his Top 5 Android Wear Apps. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
The smartwatch madness continues. No further back than yesterday, we talked about LG uploading a video teaser showing off their upcoming LG G Watch R. Now, another Korean OEM decides to enter the game. The upcoming premiere of Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which should take place in just over a week, will also be the launching point for a few wearable devices.
As the Samsung leakster Sammobile claims, the new smartwatch will be available to purchase a few months after Note 4 release, and it will contain a SIM card slot, which makes the device even more interesting. The currently released smartwatches are strongly tied down to smartphones, and without an active connection, these wrist devices lose a lot of functionality. It was easy to predict that a new smartwatch from Samsung would be circular given all of the hype surrounding the upcoming Moto 360 release and the disappointment many felt when they learned it would be released after its square face siblings.
It still remains unknown whether the device will ship with Tizen or Android Wear. It’s hard to predict if Samsung will decide to push its own OS rather than sticking to the new Google offering. One thing is certain though, folks. This late summer will be full of interesting events, which we will obviously share with all of you.
April 19, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
You may recall that we’ve talked about XDA Recognized Contributor ricky310711‘s Samsung Tool a couple of times throughout the app’s lifespan. For those who don’t remember the name, this simple tool allows users to perform several simple but handy tasks such as backing up and restoring EFS, hot rebooting for a quick refresh, and full rebooting to recovery, download mode, or the Android OS.
Now, Samsung Tool has received a rather significant update to version 5. Chief among the new features is universal support for any Samsung device, as long as BusyBox is installed thanks to its new automatic block detection. In addition, v5 also brings md5sum checking for backups and restores for better flashing safety, improved logging, and an improved device properties menu. There is also native support for three new devices, which can be used without BusyBox.
To get started, simply head over to the original thread and store your EFS safe and sound.
April 17, 2014 By: Tomek Kondrat
Android is the only popular mobile operating system that allows users, developers, and OEMs to implement dramatic modifications to its user interface. Some OEMs such as Samsung, LG, and Sony release their devices with highly modified custom software, which differs greatly from Google’s version of Android that is seen in Nexus and GPe devices.
One of the aspects that is often changed in OEM skins is the lock screen. Almost every OEM has its own unique style of lock screen. But what to do when you want to have a bit of the AOSP taste in your device without fully switching to an AOSP-based ROM? If you have an ICS-powered Samsung device, the answer is simple: Read a guide written by XDA Recognized Contributor Mohitash that shows you how to change the lock screen on Ice Cream Sandwich-based Samsung devices like the Galaxy S Duos or Captivate Glide.
The guide begins by using the well known APKTool to decompile SecSettings.apk and android.policy.jar. Then, you perform some smali editing, recompile, and send the modified files back to the device. The method is thoroughly described, so you shouldn’t have much trouble adding it to your stock or stock-based TouchWiz ROM.
If you still own an older Ice Cream Sandwich-powered Samsung device and want to make it to look a bit more like a Nexus phone, head over to the guide thread and give the described method a try.
Playing with custom ROMs and kernels is fun, but sometimes a phone needs to be restored to its stock, vanilla state. With Google Nexus devices, this is extremely easy, as no additional tool other than fastboot is needed. With Sasmung, Sony, and other devices, the situation becomes more complicated and some guidance might be required.
To restore Samsung device, you can pursue two methods: Odin and Kies. You can find plenty of guides on how to use Odin, but using Kies may require some explanation. With a guide written by XDA Forum Member SadEff, you will learn how to fully restore your device with Kies.
The guide also shows you how to unroot your phone and fix various issues that may be encountered. SadEff carefully describes every step of the process, and includes various photos to make the process easy for even total newcomers. After the process is complete, your phone will look it’s straight from the factory—or at least it’s software will. The process can be applied to every Samsung device with firmware newer than Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
To get started learning more about Kies, make your way to the guide thread. You can find all necessary information there.
March 13, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Earlier today, we talked about how the Replicant team found a potential backdoor in Samsung’s proprietary radio software. As demonstrated in a proof-of-concept attack, this allowed certain baseband code to gain access to a device’s storage under a specific set of circumstances. But upon closer inspection, this backdoor is most likely not as bad as it was initially made out to be.
A few hours after posting our previous article on the alleged backdoor, a highly respected security expert who wishes to remain anonymous approached us, stating that the way in which the proof-of-concept attack was framed by the Replicant team was a bit misleading. Essentially, it boils down to the POC requiring a modified firmware with with security features disabled. Thus, if a user is running an updated version of the official firmware, this attack will not work. To that end, the Replicant team even states in their write-up that SELinux would considerably restrict the potential files that the modem can access, such as those on the /sdcard partition.
Now, another highly trusted security researcher (XDA Recognized Developer djrbliss) has gone on record with Ars, stating that there’s “virtually no evidence” that this is indeed a true backdoor, although his reasons are a bit different. There is absolutely no indication at this time that the baseband file access can be controlled remotely. Rather, this is only a “possibility,” since the baseband software is proprietary. Instead, it’s far more likely that this was only ever intended to write radio diagnostic files to the /efs/root directory, as that is is the radio user’s home directory.
In summary, we shouldn’t rush to replace our Samsung phones just yet. There is absolutely no evidence to state that this can be controlled remotely. And even if it were possible, using SELinux, which is set to Enforcing in stock firmware, would restrict the radio user’s access.
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.
March 6, 2014 By: Tomek Kondrat
Aside from being a famous god in Norse mythology, Odin is the name of an application used to flash Samsung firmware onto Galaxy phones and tablets. With this tool, you are able to revert your phone or tablet to vanilla state, and you can also root it using CF-Root or by changing the kernel without recovery.
Creating Odin- or Heimdall-compatible packages from scratch is not easy. But this isn’t challenging anymore, as XDA Senior Member hnkotnis wrote a simple guide that explains how to create an Odin-compatible firmware in just a few steps. To crate said firmware, you need a Linux machine or VirtualBox with Ubuntu or another Linux distribution mounted as the operating system.
Hnkotnis presents three situations for creating said packages. The first is RSF format with simg2img support, the second is an image with EXT4 format, and the last is RFS firmware incompatible with simg2img. Making a compatible image requires a few files and UNIX commands, which thankfully are described in detail in the thread.
If you own a Galaxy device and want to make your own pre-rooted firmware, head over to the original thread to learn more.
February 26, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
Mobile World Congress is happening right now. Chances are your FaceGramTwitterBook Plus feeds are being spammed with all the exciting announcements—everything from Sony’s new devices to Samsung and HTC, and that’s not all! There’s a good chance you missed something or have Kelly Bundyed it. That’s when you hear too much stuff and you loose the older information as it falls right out of your brain.
There is no need to fear because XDA Developer TV Producer Extraordinaire Jordan has scoured the web, RSS feeds, Social Media feeds, YouTube, and a Taco Bell Breakfast menu to compile all the information you need to know about what has been announced at this year’s Mobile world Congress. So, pull up a chair and check out this video.
February 21, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
Android 4.4.2 KitKat for the Samsung Galaxy S 4 has been leaked! 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 that Samsung devices are getting unified CyanogenMod 11 builds. Google Project Tango has also been made public, and this project promises Kinect-like abilites for smartphones! 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 Physical Button Music Control, then he reviewed the Lepow U-Stone 12000 mAh Power Bank, and he gave us an Android App Review of OmniSnitch. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
February 18, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Before today, Samsung has been very cautious in tempering expectations regarding official Android 4.4 KitKat updates for its recent devices. While certain phones have already received the 4.4.2 goods, much of the rest of the company’s lineup is still in Jelly Bean limbo. We’ve seen leaks fly around left and right for the Galaxy S 4, but official word regarding KitKat for the device has been lacking. And since this is just for their latest and greatest, the future didn’t look so hot for Samsung’s older devices.
Some time ago, we saw a leaked internal memo pointing to a potential KitKat release schedule for various devices. Now, however, Samsung has broken the silence by stating which devices will receive official updates to Android 4.4.2 KitKat. Unfortunately, they aren’t stating when, though.
Samsung Galaxy U.S. devices currently scheduled to receive the KitKat update include select carrier variants of the Galaxy Note® 3, Galaxy Note® II, Galaxy S® 4, Galaxy S® 4 mini™, Galaxy S® 4 Active™, Galaxy S® 4 zoom™, Galaxy S® III, Galaxy S® III mini™, Galaxy Mega®, Galaxy Light, Galaxy Note® 8.0, Galaxy Tab® 3, Galaxy Note® 10.1, Galaxy Note® 10.1 2014 Edition.
In addition to the Android version bump, the update will also pack the following additional features:
- Location Menu: An integrated location menu enables users to easily activate GPS, Wi-Fi and mobile networks, while simultaneously checking the battery usage of apps running location service capabilities.
- Enhanced Messaging: Enables users to choose between Messages or Hangouts as their preferred default messaging application, and select from a larger assortment of updated Emoji icons.
- Upgraded Google Mobile Service™ (GMS) apps: Users can automatically back up photos and video and can open, view, rename and share Google Docs and files.
While the update news is a few months later than we would have liked, it’s nice to see that older devices like the Note II, S III, and Note 10.1 will get to enjoy the KitKat goods in official capacity. However, the presence of the word “select” when talking about which carrier-branded devices leaves us more than a bit skeptical about certain US-based carriers with less than stellar track records. Furthermore, we’d still like to know when exactly Samsung plans on delivering the goods!
January 31, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
Android 4.4.2,for the AT&T Galaxy S4 and Note 3 has been leaked! 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 that the Sony Xperia Z1 received a maintenance release and the HTC One KitKat release for the US carrier versions has been delayed! 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 HKThemeManager, Jordan reviewed the RAVPower RP-WD01, and TK gave us an Android App Review of ZDLock. Pull up a chair and check out this video.