September 27, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
If own a Sony Xperia device and have switched out your ROM for an AOSP-derived firmware such as CyanogenMod, you may miss a few OEM-provided pieces of software from time to time. Some of the interesting value-added software provided by Sony include their “small apps,” as well as their upgraded task switcher.
Thankfully, XDA Senior Member lukakas has created a guide to help you port these Sony-specific additions to CyanogenMod 10.1 (and perhaps any ROM based on Android 4.2.2). More specifically, the guide allows you to bring the Sony Xperia Z-specific versions of those addons.
The guide is extremely well written, and even features a helpful YouTube video that shows some of these additions in action. The guide walks you through the process of decompiling and modifying android.policy.jar, framework.jar, framework-res.apk, and SystemUI.apk. All of the modifications as well as what to do afterward are clearly outlined and color coded.
Head over to the tutorial thread to get started. Kudos to lukaskas for the well written and easy-to-follow instructions.
September 20, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
If there’s a take home message regarding development on Sony Xperia devices, it’s that what appears on one device will inevitably appear on another. Be it due to the developer friendly nature of the company or similarities in internal architecture, we’re not complaining.
We recently talked about how losing the TA partition on an Xperia Z1 could have disastrous effects on camera functionality if a backup is not made prior. And given other reasons to keep a backup of that partition, we would highly recommend that would-be rooters make a backup before unlocking. Luckily, though, that’s not the only news we have to report on the Z1′s camera.
Thanks to porting efforts by XDA Recognized Developer krabappel2548, the Xperia Z1′s camera software can now be installed on the Xperia ZR, Xperia ZL, Xperia Z, and Xperia Z Ultra. So what features does this upgraded camera software bring? According to the developer:
- Info Eye
- Augmented Reality effects
- Timeshift mode
- Manual Mode
- Social Cast mode
- Automatic mode
To get started, head over to the appropriate thread below:
One of the biggest gripes we have with our NFC-enabled devices is the somewhat unnecessary requirement of having to unlock them in order to activate NFC. This requirement effectively reduces the practicality of our many enabled stickers, tags, and gadgets, as it leads to another inconvenient step that limits the use of NFC in the first place.
There is good news, though, as a couple of good folks here have created mods that allows for NFC activation when the device’s screen is off or at the lock screen. This has been made possible by XDA Senior Member StephanSch for the following devices:
This mod is also available for the Samsung Galaxy S4 thanks to XDA Senior Member OptimalKiller. The mods come in some variation of a modified NFC APK that is then moved to the /system/apps directory, thus requiring root access. It’s important to note that the mods are compatible with only certain specific builds, frameworks, and devices. Because of this, you have to make sure to download and install the correct version. Also, make some sort of backup to ensure that you can revert the effects if things go awry.
For more information and detailed instructions, visit the threads for the following devices: HTC One, One X, EVO 4G LTE, Sony Xperia Z, Xperia P, Xperia Sola, Samsung Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, and Galaxy S4.
July 27, 2013 By: Samantha
Taking pictures underwater is probably something that not many people have attempted. Of course, not only are the physical and hardware limitations preventing people from doing so, expect for a select ‘few’ devices, but physics tells us that capacitive touch screens will have a hard time registering any taps and swipes when under water. A physical camera button may remedy this issue on the Sony Xperia Z, but how about the proximity sensor?
In answer to a question along similar lines, XDA Forum Member AGGevorgyan has developed an that allows Xperia Z owners to easily take photos with the proximity sensor. Designed to rid users of the aforementioned problem, Aqua Z Camera will snap up pictures every time you tap the proximity sensor—simple as that. The sensor sensitivity, being the duration you have your finger covering the proximity sensor, can be adjusted within the app. The great thing is that it doesn’t require root access, meaning its a viable alternative to the physical camera button mod. Despite being in the early alpha stages, AGGevorgyan has already included camera options native to the original camera app, including:
With four versions currently under the belt, AGGevorgyan warns that Aqua Z Camera may be unstable for some, and will not work with any other device. To learn more, check out the original thread.
You weren’t able to set foot on the Interwebs for the past 48 hours without being bombarded by a never ending stream of news about Chromecast, the new Nexus 7, and of course the updated software it will be running, Android 4.3. As with any update to the Android OS, the usual clamor for factory images and race to bring the update to other Nexus devices has been as frenzied as always. However, it’s not only Nexus devices that are able to take advantage of the latest AOSP updates.
Thanks to a combination of Sony Mobiles efforts to be the Good Guy Greg of Android OEMs and XDA Developer Admin pulser_g2, Sony Xperia Z users can now get a feel for “stock” Android 4.3 on their device. The build is compiled by adding the Sony repository to AOSP 4.3, and as with other Sony AOSP releases, there is no functional radio included. Therefore, no calls/SMS/mobile data (this can be rectified though if you know what you’re doing, and that’s all I have to say about that). For this reason, the build is provided as a fastboot image and not a flashable zip. This is compiled for and tested solely on the C6603, so don’t go throwing this at another model and expecting it to stick.
Obviously, without a radio this isn’t going to be your daily driver. However, it’s certainly worth a look if you want to check out the latest update and don’t have a Nexus device laying around. Check out the development thread for more information.
July 10, 2013 By: Samantha
Quite a few Sony Xperia Z owners have expressed disappointment with the low sound quality, or at least volume, of the device’s external speaker—an issue that may stem from the speaker’s water resistance or its small size. Nevertheless, XDA Senior Member ZeroInfinity has managed to increase both the internal and external sound volume with the Extra Volume Boost mod. A normal version is available for devices running AOSP-based ROMs, while users of Sony’s stock firmware will be able to enjoy either the normal or the ‘Super-loud’ version.
Installation is simple, requiring users to download the zip file of choice and flash it through a custom recovery such as CWM or TWRP. It is, however, recommended to make a Nandroid backup first just in case the mod either doesn’t work or causes issues such as no sound, which one user reported. Flashable zip files are also provided for those who would like to revert the effects of the mod.
Please keep in mind that playing sounds at high volumes for extended periods of time may damage the external speakers since they are being taxed to a greater extend than with the original settings. For more information and download, visit the original thread.
One of our goals for the year has been to better organize all of the development works (ROMs, apps, tools, kernels, etc.) on XDA. We wanted this to be useful but also to have minimal impact on how developers post to XDA and on users who are happy with the current structure of the forums.
We’re currently testing a system, we call the Development Database (or DevDB for short) on a handful of forums (Galaxy S II, Xperia Z, Galaxy Note II, Droid DNA, Nexus 4, Nexus 7). You’ll note that when you go to the gateway to those forums, such as that for the Xperia Z, you can now see a tab for ROMs. Each ROM is linked to a forum thread– just as it’s always been. But when you click through to these threads, you’ll notice that they’ve become “enhanced” with a shiny new menu bar as shown in the below screenshot. Developers have the option of which features they want to include for each project:
- Feature Requester
- Bug Reporter
- Downloads (via our own torrent tracker)
- Q&A Thread Linking
June 3, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
Get started with Windows 8 development with a handy tutorial. That and more are covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is an article about connecting certain Samsung devices via USB Mass Storage protocol and adding a physical camera button to your Sony Xperia Z.
Jordan talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer Jayce released a video on salary negotiation tips and tricks, which was followed up with a video on tips and tricks for the toughest job interview questions. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
A product decision that I never truly understood up to this day is the exclusion of a physical camera button on a modern day smartphone. The three powerhouses of 2013 so far, the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, and Xperia Z, all lack a dedicated camera button to the dismay of many users. However, if you own the Xperia Z, fear not because there is now a mod that will (hopefully) rid of this issue.
XDA Senior Member black97one has created a mod for the Xperia Z to allow for fast image capturing by holding down the volume down button while the phone is in standby mode. Additionally, when in quick launch camera mode, black97one has made capturing easier by removing the restriction of having to press both the volume up and down button to take a picture. Instead, users can capture images by pressing only the volume down button. Therefore in order to zoom in and out, black97one suggests doing so with the ubiquitous two finger pinch gesture.
Version 4 of the FastCapture mod will work with any ROM for the Xperia Z, and comes in a recovery-flashable update.zip package. Also, be sure to enable fast capture in the quick launch camera settings. Black97one may also be developing a mod allowing for fast capture with the power button, but we can only wait and see.
So Xperia Z owners, will this add to the camera wow by allowing you to instantly capture an image without having to first wake up your device, or does this just seem to be a fading gimmick that future generations will eventually forget? I mean, some lock screens have slide-to-capture functionality that works towards the same goal, albeit in a different way. As for users of the other mobile devices with no dedicated camera button, what are you opinions?
For more information on the FastCapture Mod, visit the original thread.
May 20, 2013 By: egzthunder1
Ever since the introduction of multi-window with things like Cornerstone and floating apps, there has been a somewhat radical change in the overall Android UI. Granted, not everyone can take advantage of this as most manufacturers do not include such features in their brand UI experience. Samsung is one of the only ones that actually does this with their multi window capabilities. Not too long ago, Sony decided to jump in the bandwagon with their own concept of multi-window usage with a concept called “mini apps.” For those not familiar, these mini apps act similar to active widgets, providing you with some functionality that would otherwise require an app taking the entire screen use. Sony includes a few in their stock ROMs for several devices running ICS and up, and the community has been working hard to come up with more. Having said that, XDA Recognized Themer serajr just took that “need” for more and turned it into a reality.
Serajr Power Toggles is the closest thing you will get to having full control over most settings of your device without having to actually go into Settings. By activating the small app, you will get access to normally used toggles such as WiFi, BT, GPS as well as other not-so-used toggles such as USB Debugging and battery information. There are 23 toggles in total, so you can literally access practically everything you need without having to clutter your home screens. This comes as a bit of a relief for those who want to have the Quick Toggles that come with 4.2.2, but that are not willing to go into an AOSP ROM.
A quick warning from the dev though. This was originally coded with the latest Sony Add-on SDK. Patches to the SystemUI.apk need to be added since the toggles that manage system functions do not work out of the box with the app (being as each device has specific code to control these settings). Having said that, patching the APK is relatively straightforward and the dev provides a step by step walkthrough to help you get this accomplished. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to rearrange or even use many of these toggles if you do not do this.
Please try them out on your device and share
Here´s my Serajr Power Toggles small application for all Sony JB/ICS Small App ready devices.
You can find more information in the original thread.
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April 29, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
Samsung Galaxy S4 Rooted across multiple carriers. That story and more are covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is a tutorial to backup your TA Partition on the Sony Xperia Z and NASA launching several Nexus One phones into space.
Jordan talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer Jayce talks about Xposed framework and Mono for Android. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
April 27, 2013 By: egzthunder1
If you have ever heard the expression there is no free lunch, you likely know what that means. Like with most things in life, sometimes you need to give a little to get a little. This is normally the case when it comes to bootloader unlocking of most devices, regardless of manufacturer (keyword here is “most”…. I had to say this before Samsung fans jump out of their chairs with pitchforks :p). The likes of Asus and HTC normally offer official methods for unlocking their bootloaders. In order to do this, you must turn over your soul… err, I mean your warranty, just for that bit of extra functionality (and in the case of HTC, that is just a bit of extra functionality as there are still several things that are blocked even after a bootloader unlock). There are of course other manufacturers that offer these unlocking services as well, which give you a far richer experience and more freedom for the same price. One such case is Sony and their Xperia line up. Many moons ago, Sony came up with an official tool to unlock your bootloader, much like the aforementioned manufacturers have done, and yes, they also take your warranty along with the unlock right. However, you gain full control of the device by doing it, or at least nearly full control as you lose a little something in the process… Unlocking the bootloader on any Xperia device that supports it will also wipe out the included DRM (Digital Rights Management) keys embedded in the device, which are essential for a few software bits to work on the Xperia .
The newest addition to the Sony lineup, the Xperia Z, suffers from the same predicament. Unlocking the bootloader will effectively wipe your DRM keys, leaving you with a non-functional Bravia Engine 2, TrackID, or OTA update capabilities, as well as a few other things. If you have not yet unlocked your BL, but are considering doing it, you must read the guide made by XDA Forum Member rickwyatt. The member provides an easy to follow guide with tools to help you back up your TA partition, which contains (as you may have guessed/known) the DRM keys. Being able to back up the TA partition effectively gives you a “time machine” allowing you to go to the point before you unlocked your device. Restoring the partition will do two things: it will restore your DRM keys as stated earlier, and it will relock your bootloader. Mind you, this can only be done BEFORE unlocking the BL because your TA partition WILL change, and restoring someone else’s will instantly kill your device, hard brick style.
While this is not exactly the solution a few of you were waiting for to get BE2 working again on your unlocked Z, it is a step in the right direction. Just keep in mind that it is always advisable that if you are going to restore your TA partition from your backup, you should be on a completely stock rom/kernel. There are reports from some people in the thread who have had soft bricks by restoring over custom ROMs and/or kernels while others have had very few if no issues at all.
Take it for a spin only if you have not unlocked your device yet. The thread is a good discussion and is filled with lots of useful information that might prevent you from making a mistake in the process. Please make sure that you read and understand what is going on before diving in. And one last thing, keep in mind that by unlocking your bootloader, your warranty IS gone and this process WILL NOT bring it back.
This wont work if you Unlocked your bootloader already because
you have already changed you TA partition. also don’t flash
someone elses TA it will hard brick your phone
You can find more information in the original thread.
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The Android Open Source Project (AOSP) is Google giving the entire community (manufacturers, enthusiasts, developers, etc.) the necessary building blocks to bring what many refer to as “stock Android” (more accurately “vanilla Android”) to a device. The inherent problem with this is that the manufacturers are often the roadblock to such endeavors. Too often manufacturers (like HTC, Samsung, etc.) and suppliers (like Qualcomm) all claim that they can’t release certain drivers, and label them as “proprietary” so that no one can use them. Of course, since there’s nothing really “new” under the sun, this just serves to hinder innovation and development. And often times manufacturers will claim it’s the suppliers who are really hindering things, but who is it that chooses the suppliers? I’ll let the obvious rhetorical question be obvious.
In this mix, it’s refreshing to see a mainstream company attempt to shuck all of these trends and actually release the AOSP source for a device, with the Xperia S being the first non-Nexus device to be included in the AOSP device tree. This experiment ended on a positive note, with Sony moving the source for the Xperia S into their own managed GitHub repository. But Sony hasn’t stopped there.
While companies like Samsung, which used to be rather developer-friendly, now moving away from being open to the community, Sony instead is welcoming them with open arms. Their latest flagship device, the Xperia Z, has joined the Xperia S with having its AOSP source files available on their GitHub. They even posted a lot of information over on their Developer World blog, listing SD Card, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, LED light, and sensors working (partially), and they state plans to include NFC in the future. They also have a link to the proprietary Qualcomm binaries needed in order for this to work. You can see the video below, and visit their blog post for more information.