December 23, 2013 By: Tomek Kondrat
Some time ago, we talked about the freecygn project, which was created to remove the remaining traces of Google from CyanogenMod. This project brought quite a bit of controversy, as Google not only is most responsible for Android, but also collects data and gathers statistics for various advertising-related purposes.
XDA Senior Member MaR-V-iN‘s freecygn project was quite successful, and Senior Member sylentprofet decided to make a modification of it that allows it to compile alongside CyanogenMod itself. Sylentprofet compiled the Java Archive file in the Android Studio and wrote short instructions on how to make the necessary modifications to get a Google-free system straight from source.
It’s no longer necessary to run a script through ADB to remove Google’s files, as you can now compile this and flash in one go. Of course, all credit should go to MaR-V-iN for his original modification, but once again we can see how keeping things open source brings good things to the community.
Sylentpro’s remix can be found in its original thread. Don’t forgt to also visit MaR-V-iN’s thread too, so that you can keep track of the project’s latest updates.
December 22, 2013 By: Tomek Kondrat
Performing some of the basic tasks on Android device is easy but also time consuming. For example, if you want to install an application through adb, you need to type adb install and a full name of the APK. Of course, you need to have a working ADB to even think of adding something.
There are some tools that make things easier and faster. One such tool is Android World Multitool, created by XDA Forum Member youssef badr. This Windows-only tool can perform the most common operations like installing an application, flashing a boot animation, and rebooting your device. It even supports unrooting and backup/restore.
As an added bonus, some Samsung-only actions are present as well. For example, it’s possible to enter the download mode or reboot straight to the recovery. It’s an initial release, so many things are yet to be added, but this tool can be considered as a good solution for people with less experience in Android or with limited time to do something.
Head over to the development thread to grab the newest version of this tool and give it a try.
December 22, 2013 By: Tomek Kondrat
Building a ROM from source is an exciting, but sometimes problematic process. Setting the build environment is time consuming and you need to find and copy-paste many lines of code to get the necessary libraries on your Linux machine. Also, initializing the correct repo and using Git might be problematic for some users.
A kitchen in ROM terminology is not a place where the food is prepared. It’s a tool that allows you to do some things automatically, like for example split the zImage and the ramdisk, which are parts of the kernel. Probably the most famous kitchen around is dsixda’s kitchen, presented here back during the stone age. Of course you can do it manually. But with a kitchen, you are always few minutes ahead.
XDA Senior Member Dark Wraith used some resources available on XDA to make a tool that can help to get the source code for CyanogenMod, set up the build environment, and perform some kernel or Git operations. By executing a single command, you can get everything that is needed to start twiddling in the AOSP world. This tool works only on Linux machines, but even if you are on Windows, you can create a virtual machine. The list of features is quite long and can be found in the original thread.
If you want to try to compile your first ROM from source or simply set up the build environment after moving to brand new operating system, make your way to the development thread to get the kitchen. Don’t forget to check the github repository of this open source project and make some contributions if possible.
December 20, 2013 By: Tomek Kondrat
Most XDA users know how to root their devices, flash a recovery, and perform all the necessary steps to be a happy custom ROM user. But the world isn’t perfect, and there are still members who are not tech savvy enough to do everything on their own. After all, allowing less advanced users to use custom ROMs was one of main driving forces behind projects such as CyanogenMod Installer and CASUAL.
By design, CyanogenMod Installer is quite limited, as it only allows users to flash the newest version of CyanogenMod. XDA Senior Member ssrij created an open source tool similar to the above projects called CustomDroid.
CustomDroid can unlock the bootloader on selected devices, flash a custom recovery, and of course flash a custom ROM. It’s unable to root the device and flash the custom kernel, but the developer is working hard to add these features. The list of currently supported device maybe isn’t the longest, but you can find Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S, Nexus One and HTC One support so far. Currently only GSM variants are supported and the HTC One support needs some additional work, but everything is nicely written in the original thread. This project is still in alpha stage, and with some help it can become a great flashing tool for new XDA community members.
More information about this project ;can be found in the development thread. If you own one of the above devices and use Windows, try this tool and send some feedback to the developer.
Android is an operating system that uses a lot of programming languages. The most common languages are Java (or Android Java if you prefer), C, XML, Bash, as well as a few more. Android applications can be decompiled by APKTool and a few similar tools, and their output is Smali. I know that many of you will disagree with me, but Smali is quite complicated language—much more than Java.
There are two tools that can convert Smali back to Java: Dex2Jar and JAD. They are pretty hard to use, though, and need some experience to use them properly. Luckily, XDA Recognized Developer broodplank1337 created a simple bash script, that does all the work for us. This script can get all necessary dependencies, as well as get the Java code straight from APK. It works on Linux only, but I’m quite sure that can be used on non UNIX-like systems like Windows with Cygwin. The developer recommends that you put the file in ~/bin and make it executable. Further instructions are available in the thread.
Sometimes scripts can make life a lot easier. If you are interested in the project, make your way to the original thread to get more information and learn how to convert assembler code into Java.
Note: Tools like this should be used for educational purposes. “Borrowing” code from applications (paid or free) is unethical and should not take place. They are closed source for a reason. Keep that in mind.
December 2, 2013 By: Tomek Kondrat
Home screen customization is quite important to many users. Most of us like to keep our screens aesthetic. And from time to time, we want to share the look with our friends in real life or here on XDA.
Unfortunately some ROMs don’t offer screenshot functionality, so the Android-SDK must be used. It’s very inconvenient to download a big package just to make a few screenshots via ddms. XDA Senior Moderator and Recognized Developer Diamondback created a Windows tool, named Advanced Screenshot Creator (ASC), to ease the process of creating screenshots. In addition to its main feature of creating an image of the visible portion of the screen via a custom ADB implementation, ASC can automatically save all screenshots to a user-specified folder and let you manage the already taken screenshots.
The Advanced Screenshot Creator was originally a part of Virtuous Ten Studio, a powerful IDE for reverse engineering on Android. ASC is the second feature, which was released as a standalone application after Advanced Logcat Viewer. There are still more to follow.
If you a Windows user and looking for an advanced utility to manage screenshots, head over to the original thread and give Advanced Screenshot Creator or Virtuous Ten Studio a try.
December 2, 2013 By: Tomek Kondrat
Logcat is a powerful diagnostic tool designed to help developers with debugging errors in their applications. Without it, fixing most of applications would be significantly more difficult. However, it appears that logcat is not the only diagnostic tool available to app developers.
Now, there is an alternative tool ported by XDA Senior Member alireza7991. STrace is a debugging utility to monitor a program’s system calls or signals it receives. Unlike logcat, Strace can be used to monitor a single application, so it’s much easier to find abnormal behavior. This tool can then be used to find causes for crashes or anomalies.
Using STrace is really simple. All you need to do is to push the bin file to /system/bin/ on your device and set the correct permissions with chmod. Then, you can run it from terminal emulator or ADB shell.
If you are interested in a new piece of debugging software, make your way to the utility thread and learn more about STrace.
About a year ago, we covered a tool by XDA Recognized Developer lyriquidperfection that allows users to create, modify, and analyze Samsung PIT (Partition Information Tables ) files. For those who aren’t familiar with PIT files, they contain all of the relevant information for each partition such as partition id, partition name, flash filename, block size, block range, partition description, and more.
Some time ago, XDA Recognized Developer Benjamin Dobell created a Java-based library for Samsung PIT files, as part of the Heimdall project. Then to further development, Benjamin relinquished copyright over to XDA Senior Recognized Developer AdamOutler, who relicensed the project under GPL, with source available over on GitHub.
Now, Adam has released an online PIT analysis tool and associated library that allows you to obtain a human-readable analysis of a PIT file easily, either through his online web-app, or directly on your local computer with a provided library. What makes Adam’s tool unique is that thanks to work by Adam, Recognized Developer Ralekdev, and Senior Recognized Developer Rebellos, the tool can identify every part of the PIT file. As stated by Adam:
I’m happy to announce that we have 100% identification of all parts of the PIT files as they stand today. We are no longer working on identifying variables thanks to Ralekdev, Rebellos and Benjamin’s work. We can read, and write and integrate PIT files into our Java Applications.
Make your way over to the original thread to learn more!
November 29, 2013 By: Conan Troutman
Well over a year ago now, we brought you news of a tool that solved the problem of users not being able to distribute themes for paid apps. Remote Theme Injector did exactly as its name suggests and “injects” the necessary themed elements into an APK, thereby allowing themers to make their work on paid apps available without distributing warez. The tool was often updated by its developer, XDA Senior Moderator and Recognized Developer Diamondback, whose name you might recognise from another project, Virtuous Ten Studio.
The Remote Theme Injector has since been incorporated into VTS, adding yet another useful feature into an already incredibly versatile piece of software for a variety of Android projects. VTS itself is essentially an IDE and a whole lot more, aimed at everyone from ROM developers to smali gurus, and now themers. It is capable of not only decompiling, modifying, and recompiling applications, but also modifying the m10 files that are a major component of HTC’s Sense UI, as well as the unpacking/repacking of boot images. That’s barely scratching the surface of what VTS is capable of, and I highly recommend checking out the VTS home page and XDA forum thread for more information.
The updated RTI bundled with VTS takes advantage of these features, and now allows for smali modifications to be included as part of the application themes. For a perfect example of just what is possible with RTI, check out the most recent batch of TapaTalk Pro/Free themes by XDA Recognized Developer and Themer Whiskey103. Whether you have the compulsive desire to ensure that all your installed apps maintain a strict theme or just fancy giving TapaTalk a quick makeover, this is definitely something worth looking into.
Storage space isn’t quite as much of a problem nowadays compared to before. Phones and tablets are being pushed out the door with some comfortable internal memory specs such as up to 64 GB. This is even more true if you insert a sizeable MicroSD card on expandable devices. That said, not all OEMs include external storage or large caches of internal storage, so some owners who enjoy a considerable music library or movie collection continue to be bothered by the ‘low internal storage’ notification.
Although not a miraculous instant fix for those suffering such woes, XDA Senior Member divinemamgai‘s Cassini may alleviate the situation to a certain degree. A PC-based tool, Cassini minimizes the size of the apps you have installed by compressing the app’s image files. This results in less space used up by apps, and more space for your photos, music, and movies. According to divinemamgai, all system apps except for LatinIME.apk will work with Cassini, while some apps from the Play store will be compatible such as ZPlayer, Textra, and Solid Explorer.
Before installation, a brief setup process is required, including running Java 7, creating a new system variable, and editing your path—nothing complicated. With this, you’ll be able to install the tool and be on your way.
If you would like to give Cassini a go, check out the utility thread for more information and download.
Getting a new phone can be likened to a ritual in many ways. After ripping apart the delivery packaging and bubble wrap, delicately removing the sticky tape, opening the phone’s box, finally holding the glorious new device in your hand, and then feeling the slight jolt of vibration when you turn it on for the first time, you come to realize that there’s still quite a long way to go before it’s ready.
So rather than sitting at the PC for the next couple of hours researching the individual steps for the more commonly accessed actions, you may want to check out XDA Senior Member stillthisguy‘s Moto X Toolkit. With this PC-based tool, Moto X owners are able to perform an extensive list of some of the more common actions. Actions include but are not limited to:
If you’ve just received your brand new Moto X and want a tool that streamlines the setup process, check out stillthisguy’s Moto X Toolkit in its original thread for more information and download.
November 15, 2013 By: Tomek Kondrat
Every Android user has encountered application or game crashes at some point. However, finding the cause of these crashes is a different story. Android offers its own logging system called logcat, which uses ADB to fetch all necessary information for developers to analyze and fix the problem.
It’s easy enough to install the android-sdk and execute the standard adb logcat command, but the output can be somewhat hard to decipher. XDA Recognized Developer Diamondback wrote a handy Windows tool to ease the process of working with logcats.
The application is easy to use and offers important features like log highlighting, dynamic filtering , exporting to text files, and uploading them to pastebin. It can also help you analyze other users’ logcats by importing them from text files.
The Advanced Logcat Viewer was originally a part of Virtuous Ten Studio, a fully featured IDE for everything related to reverse engineering on Android. However, in an effort to lower the complexity of VTS, Diamondback decided to publish certain parts of VTS as standalone versions as well. According to the developer, ALV is only the very first of these breakout features, and there are a few more to follow.
November 13, 2013 By: TK
The Google Nexus 5 was just released a few weeks ago, packing Android 4.4 Kit Kat. The Nexus 7 (2013) was released not that long ago, and officially received KitKat earlier today. KitKat brings a nice new feature that allows you to record the screen on your device. Previously, this required (paid) third party apps. And even then, many faced compatibility issues with certain SoCs and ROMs.
The new feature has one major down side, though. You must be connected to your PC to start the process. However, XDA Senior Member prsterero brings us a user-friendly PC interface that simplifies the process and allows you to control the screen recording functionality from your Windows-based computer. It also allows you to backup your media content and TWRP backups to your desktop PC. It does not (and is not intended to) unlock, root, or modify your device, but there are plenty of toolkits available for that already.
Head over to the utility thread for the details.