March 6, 2014 By: eagleeyetom
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.
January 12, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
The spectacle that is the International CES show has come to an end for yet another year. While there are bound to be more Android announcements at the upcoming Mobile World Congress, there are still some things announced this week to look forward to—and some things that were announced that you won’t look forward to.
Let’s start with the unexciting. The mobile device manufacturer with a name that is not pronounced how it is spelled, Huawei, released an updated version of the Ascend Mate phone. Adding in 4G LTE connectivity, the creatively named follow-up, Ascend Mate 2 4G sits squarely in the middle of the road. With a Mediatek chip running four cores and sporting a 6.1” 720p screen, this device won’t be making the list of juggernaut phones for 2014. As a favor to you, we got hands on with the device to show you what you won’t be missing.
To follow in this pattern, let’s talk about the LG G Flex. While the G Flex has been announced and available internationally for a while now, LG announced US carrier versions. As the name implies, this device is flexible and sports a curved design. This devices still disappointingly rocks Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, and is really nothing more than a bent LG G2. However, we can’t blame LG, as they were not the only ones who think the future of consumer electronics is bending your old products.
To be honest, we are a little disappointed by this company’s announcements. Sony has made some great devices, and unfortunately they are content with just making some small tweaks. This year they released a duo of phones: the Xperia Z1S and the shrunken Z1 Compact. If you shorten the name, you could call it the Z1C—though Sony won’t call it that, and you have a familiar naming convention. Not only is the naming convention similar, so is the approach to product design: Take an existing device and tweak it. The Z1S is Sony’s attempt at capturing some of the delicious US market share. The device will only be available with T-Mobile. The Z1S is basically a Z1 made of plastic with pre-installed Sony apps, like the PlayStation app. The Z1 Compact is the Z1 only smaller. And since it also features a 720p resolution on its smaller screen, the screen density goes down. Some say the screen is better than the bigger brothers, but that’s in the eye of the beholder. If you want to know more about Sony’s devices check out our video.
Sony is not the only one to announce a hardware “refresh.” Android device powerhouse Samsung released newer versions of the Samsung Galaxy Camera, a new big Note, and a trio of new Galaxy Tabs. The tablet updates are all Pros: The Note Pro 12.2, the Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2, 10.1 and 8.4. These tablets introduce a new navigation idea called Magazine UI, which reminds us of Windows Phone live tiles. There was a lot of information about these devices. And since a picture is worth a thousand words, check out our video to learn even more.
Perhaps the most exciting announcement of CES 2014 turned out not to be a device at all, but rather a mobile chipset. Nvidia announced their new 192-core Tegra K1 chip. This Tegra chip features the same architecture as Nvidia’s desktop GPUs, while sipping only 5 watts. This allows for some tremendous eye candy. To check out some of that eye candy, check out the video.
A big thing this year was the so called wrist revolution. There were many smartwatches at this year’s event. From the LG LifeBand Touch, which is a better fitness tracking device than smartwatch, to the stylish new MetaWatch and huge Neptune Pine; smartwatches might be the next big thing. Our favorite from this year is possibly the svelte all-in-one smartwatch, the Omate TrueSmart. Check out our videos to learn more about the different type of smartwatches.
Video Courtesy of Twildottv
Video Courtesy of Twildottv
Video Courtesy of Twildottv
Another CES has come and gone. And while there was some news of impending mobile devices, nothing really stands out and the must have device of this year. However, don’t think that means there will be no good smartphone releases this year. You will just have to wait for them. They may be announced at Mobile World Congress or some other event. We wait eagerly for the next must have device to be announced, so save your money, and join us. Just don’t hold your breath.
January 11, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
Samsung was at this year’s CES in a BIG way! They have advertisements on just about any of the many shuttle buses circling the Las Vegas Convention Center, they had ads all over the Convention Center itself, and that got the location into trouble, as the ads announced their releases before the actual press event. At the press event, Samsung announced a new Samsung Note Pro 12.2, three new Galaxy Tab Pros—coming in the sizes of 8.4, 10.1, and 12.2 inches—and the Samsung Galaxy Camera 2.
XDA Developer TV Producer Jordan was on site and got a chance to get his hands on the Note PRO 12.2, the Galaxy Tab PRO trio, and the Galaxy Camera 2. Jordan sat down and talked with the folks at Samsung. In this video, he shares what he learned and shows off the Note PRO 12.2, the Galaxy Tab PRO 10.1 trio, and the Galaxy Camera 2. Check out this video to see what the newest Samsung looks like.
January 10, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
About a month ago, we talked about a recent study (PDF) stating that most security vulnerabilities on Android are ultimately due to OEM customizations. And surprise, surprise—this can even happen on devices with technologies designed to protect users.
Late last month, security researchers at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev discovered a security vulnerability that allowed a user-installed application to intercept unencrypted network traffic. Rather than describing this as a flaw or bug, Samsung labels the vulnerability a classic Man in the Middle (MitM) attack, which could be launched at any point on the network.
Samsung was also quick to state that this type of attack can be thwarted using existing KNOX technology (or the device-wide VPN support in stock Android):
Android development practices encourage that this be done by each application using SSL/TLS. Where that’s not possible (for example, to support standards-based unencrypted protocols, such as HTTP), Android provides built-in VPN and support for third-party VPN solutions to protect data. Use of either of those standard security technologies would have prevented an attack based on a user-installed local application.
KNOX offers additional protections against MitM attacks. Below is a more detailed description of the mechanisms that can be configured on Samsung KNOX devices to protect against them:
1. Mobile Device Management — MDM is a feature that ensures that a device containing sensitive information is set up correctly according to an enterprise-specified policy and is available in the standard Android platform. KNOX enhances the platform by adding many additional policy settings, including the ability to lock down security-sensitive device settings. With an MDM configured device, when the attack tries to change these settings, the MDM agent running on the device would have blocked them. In that case, the exploit would not have worked.
2. Per-App VPN — The per-app VPN feature of KNOX allows traffic only from a designated and secured application to be sent through the VPN tunnel. This feature can be selectively applied to applications in containers, allowing fine-grained control over the tradeoff between communication overhead and security.
3. FIPS 140-2 — KNOX implements a FIPS 140-2 Level 1 certified VPN client, a NIST standard for data-in-transit protection along with NSA suite B cryptography. The FIPS 140-2 standard applies to all federal agencies that use cryptographically strong security systems to protect sensitive information in computer and telecommunication systems. Many enterprises today deploy this cryptographically strong VPN support to protect against data-in-transit attacks.
Now before we start bashing Samsung’s KNOX technology more than necessary, let’s remember that these kinds of attacks can affect non-KNOX devices as well. Furthermore, sending personal data in unencrypted form is simply asking for trouble. If anything, this should serve as a reminder to use encrypted transfers and connections whenever possible and to be wary about where we store and input our data.
January 7, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Modern Samsung devices generally pack class-leading specifications, great battery life, fantastic screens, and more features than you can shake a stick at. They’re also one of the better OEMs for providing somewhat timely firmware updates on at least their flagship devices.
Arguably, all of this equates to some of the best devices on the market, and you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking that their market share demonstrates this. But one thing that’s a bit harder to argue is the aesthetic beauty of their custom TouchWiz UI. Often the butt of many jokes, the company’s take on the Android UI is a face only the Korean OEM could love. And in its current version, it leaves much to be desired thanks to its childish colors and icons, cluttered interface, and overall outdated appearance.
New leaked screenshots posted by @evleaks show a dramatic shift in their artistic direction, with a flatter UI very reminiscent of HTC’s BlinkFeed. Aside from the similarities to BlinkFeed, the new UI jives much better with Android’s flat and modern UI than the previous releases that seem more at home on Android 2.x.
So will this new version of TouchWiz be your “Life companion?” We’re excited to see anything that makes TouchWiz a little less ugly. Share your thoughts on their new artistic direction in the comments below.
I am, and have always been, an early adopter of a lot of things, particularly when it comes to technology. My cell phone voyage started back in the year 2000 with a Nokia 5110. Back then, only a handful of people had phones, and seeing someone on the street with one was a somewhat rare sight. Nowadays, the same cannot be said. Cell phones have become a massive commodity—one that gets a lot of attention, and certainly one that is likely one of the most profitable industries in the world today (in the tech sector anyways).
Every Joe Schmuck and Jane Doe sport the latest Galaxy devices or one of Apple’s latest iconic iPhones (just to mention a few manufacturers). Sure, they all have a somewhat interesting appeal, and many of them are loaded with more unique functions and capabilities that (in theory) make life a lot easier. However, looking at the overall market and trying to overlay an innovation line through the timeline from the early 2000′s (when Nokia reigned supreme) ’til today, we can easily notice a few trends that are worrying and don’t necessarily correlate with what anyone would expect from “progress” or “development.”
Going back to the very beginning of my article, I mentioned owning a dinosaur of a phone, the Nokia 5110. The device was a jewel, and it did exactly what it needed to do (and far more). The device was relatively cheap to get with a 2-3 year agreement. So, the device manufacturer (again, in this particular case, Nokia) knew that in order to have a good customer base, the devices needed to last that long. After all, not everyone could spend $400-600 USD on a phone upgrade while still being locked in the middle of a contract, nor were they willing to do so either.
Nokia designed the 5100 series with a few crucial engineering concepts in mind: good battery, reliable, easy to service, and durable. I had my device for the length of my contract before I decided to upgrade (mainly due to swapping carriers). I have to admit that it must have been one of the best cell phones I have ever had the pleasure of using. Not because of the usage per se, but rather how the device gave me 0 issues in the course of 3 years of ownership. Needless to say, the thing was built to last, as the body was virtually indestructible (exaggerating a tad here, but it was a tough device). When I upgraded, I went with a Nokia 8210. They had done a good job because with their mindset, they created a device that prompted me to want to see what else they could come up a few years down the line—all that without compromising my ability to enjoy the one I currently had. Ah, those were the days.
Fast forward to 2007 (big jump, I know). The iPhone was released and the (back then) current king of smartphones, Windows Mobile HTC devices and Blackberry, were dethroned. Because of silly mistakes, loads of bugs, and a simple yet effective marketing strategy to get people to buy more, the iPhone 1G sees a successor not much later down the line. Seeing how many other manufacturers were now jumping into the bandwagon, stable and decent cell phone manufacturers saw themselves in dire need to release more products in a shorter timespan. This was primarily done to keep up with their competitors, who were quickly gaining market share due to shorter intervals between new products. The next thing that happened (and still does to this day), new models are released every 6-9 months, each one promising to be “better” than their predecessor(s). This last statement is the cornerstone of this entire article. Why are manufacturers releasing devices that are NOT designed to be the best they have to offer? It isn’t that they develop new tech for newer versions. Rather, they make enough (in)significant changes to the existing one, such that it can be labeled the “next best thing.”Does any of this sound familiar?
I myself am an engineer, as many of you are as well (or studying to become). It honestly makes my blood boil when I consider the engineering teams behind the product development of some of these devices. No longer are devices durable. Rather, they have gone entirely to the other end of the spectrum and have become practically disposable. I simply cannot believe that a $500-1000 USD item becomes “irreparable.” Product design basics dictate that any engineered product is designed to have a certain life expectancy under normal conditions, tear, and wear, and even leave some leeway for accidents. If products need repair, they should be perfectly serviceable by the manufacturer without having to charge the consumer exorbitant amounts of money to get the product back in working order. Needless to say, whenever a phone does break this day and age, sending it in for repairs is a fruitless ordeal due to the fact that more often than not, the device will be deemed as “not repairable” due to directions coming from engineering design teams.
Make the world a better place through the application of science? That is what product engineering should be about. Squeezing every last drop of sweat over your own design and making sure that you put your very best efforts into making something that people will have for years (not months) to come is what every engineering company should strive for. Unfortunately, this was quickly replaced with “ooh, look how shiny this new toy is,” which is then followed by “oh, your old one? pfft That is so 3 months ago…. you won’t get two pennies for it on eBay, and don’t even think about repairing it.”
We as consumers have allowed these companies to throw basic engineering practices out the window so that they can squeeze more juice out of us. Now, I have no issues with companies trying to make money. Hell, that is what they do after all. But when greed takes over your most basic principles, I simply have no sympathy. I still recall our friend XDA Senior Recognized Developer AdamOutler doing an unboxing of the new Droid Razr when it came out. His words have been stuck in my head ever since. “Motorola made this device to be disposable.” Why? What was the point of making the device “disposable?” Why did such an important part of engineering a new product (ease of service) gets tossed aside like this? Would it kill you to make your device fixable? Another example: I tried to fix the digitizer of my HTC Titan a few days ago, but ended up destroying the LCD entirely. Why would there be any need to superglue both LCD and digitizer and superglue that combo to the device’s body? To keep them in place you say? There are small, low profile screws that will do the job just as well without jeopardizing the serviceability of the device or its overall design (read: they will not make it any thicker).
The entire world has been sucked into a game that the companies play on a large scale. They are trying to see just how much they can shove down our throats, all while expending the least amount of effort in doing so. These practices not only have the effects mentioned earlier, but they can also have dangerous consequences (bulging exploding battery of SGS2 devices anyone?). The core activities here on XDA-Developers actually somewhat put a damper on this, as the allure of “a new OS version exclusive to a device” is now mitigated. But unfortunately, software is just but a small part of the overall equation.
Next time you are out there shopping for a cell phone, just think about a very important thing that goes beyond specs or pretty colors. Just think about how well the product you are about to purchase was engineered. Let that be your deciding factor, and don’t simply fall in line with the rest of the masses who will jump at anything shiny like fish in heat. There are manufacturers out there that still care about trying to keep their core engineering values. To these companies, kudos. To the ones like HTC, which used to be like this (my HTC Wallaby that I bought in 2003 and that has been through hell and back still works), look at your early years and try again. Get off the path you are in right now because you will lose this race. And to the companies that simply don’t give two flying feathers about engineering, progress, and making the world a better place (looking at you Apple), I sincerely hope that your lack of engineering values comes back with a vengeance and bites you where the sun doesn’t shine.
If I have to choose between a phone that is 0.0001 mm thick but that will break upon looking at it without any way to fix it or my old 5110, I’ll take my old Nokia any day of the week. At least, that has engineering at heart.
It should come as no surprise that here at XDA, we are always calling on the OEMs to do a better job of removing the bloat of their custom UIs (Samsung – we’re looking at you and your now insane TouchWiz size) and improving the overall user experience. What may come as a shock to some, though, is that a recent study by researchers at North Carolina State University says that those same OEMs, and their incessant need to have a custom UI as some sort of “branding,” are directly responsible for most of the security issues found with Android. Cue Home Alone face.
In all honesty, we really shouldn’t be all that surprised. XDA Elite Recognized Developer jcase gave a great talk at XDA:DevCon13 where he discussed “Android Security Vulnerabilites and Exploits.” There, he identified how OEMs (LG was his main example) are directly responsible for many of the vulnerabilities and exploits he finds.
The researchers at NC State found that 60% of the security issues were directly tied to changes OEMs had made to stock Android, specifically related to apps requesting more permissions than were necessary. They looked at 2 devices from each 4 different OEMs (Sony, Samsung, LG and HTC), with one running a version of Android 2.x and another running 4.x from each OEM, along with the Nexus S and Nexus 4 from Google.
Here are a few of the findings:
For the user, this should be a warning to pay attention to the permissions used when you install an app and take steps to protect yourself, like with the Xposed module XPrivacy. For OEMs, shame on you. Consumers place trust, no matter how unfounded and risky that is, on you. For you to be breaking that trust by not being responsible and open in your dealings and development is just plain careless.
The full study, presented yesterday at the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security in Berlin, is definitely a good read, with specific case studies done on the Samsung Galaxy S3 and LG Optimus P880.
Source: MIT Technology Review
[Thanks to XDA Elite Recognized Developer toastcfh for the tip.]
June 18, 2013 By: Samantha
There are still quite a few of folks who run Gingerbread on their devices—either because their devices have started to age a little bit, or the stability of ports of later versions is just not cutting it. However this doesn’t mean that they should be left out in the cold in terms of new functions and features, as XDA Recognized Themer and Contributor SpaceCaker has created a guide to get the Samsung Android 4.2.2 status bar and toggles on your Samsung device running Android 2.3.
SpaceCaker guides you through the necessary steps to successfully edit the .xml and .smali files within your SystemUI.apk clearly and logically, with accompanying examples of code to aid you through the way. Extra files are also needed, and these are conveniently provided by SpaceCaker in a downloadable zip file from the original post. The end result is the familiar tabbed settings and contact information in addition to the notification area with a row of quick settings lined up on the top. The settings are themed based on Samsung’s distinct lime-green UI design, although I suspect that the colors can be changed according to your own tastes with a couple simple changes of Hex values.
Third party status bar apps that essentially provide the same end result are often buggy and incompatible with earlier versions of Android. This guide offers a reliable alternative that’s also a great exercise for those who are into theming.
If you would like to give this a go, make sure to visit the original thread for more information.
May 27, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
XDA Elite Recognized Developer Chainfire has worked around Samsung’s attempt to block rooting your phone. Therefore, new devices have been added to CF-Auto-Root. That and more are covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this weekend. Included in this week’s news is a tutorial on testing your app with Robotium. And in related news, there is an article on how flash custom ROMs and Recovery to the Samsung Galaxy S 4.
Jordan talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer Jayce released a video on phone interview tips and tricks and he follows it up with a video on tips and tricks for a main interview. Pull up a chair and check out this video.