August 27, 2012 By: Joseph Hindy
While they don’t offer any additional functionality over capacitive buttons, the software buttons that first appeared in Honeycomb and continued to Jelly Bean have become rather popular. They’re not only a modifiable novelty, but with screens as large as they are, giving up a little screen real estate for the software buttons isn’t exactly a big deal. Now, the Samsung Galaxy S III and its US variants running CM10 can have their software buttons enabled with a single mod.
The original thread was started by XDA Recognized Developer graffixnyc to bring the software buttons to the international Galaxy S III. However, XDA Forum Member NemesisRE took it a step further and developed a mod that brings the soft keys to all Galaxy S III devices.
There are five mods that users can use, all of which are flashable through custom recovery software. They are as follows:
NAV_Only: none of the hardware keys are enabled (except Volume and Power)
NAV_HomeWake: Home button wakes device but has no other function
NAV_HomeCamera: Long press Home button opens Camera and takes Pictures but has no other function
NAV_StockKeys: Functions as normal but with on Screen Navbar
NAV_Remove: Removes the mod
Not only does it work on any Samsung Galaxy S III devices, but it also may work with any device that uses the same key binding as the Galaxy S III. As NemesisRE explains:
This should work on any device with the same keybindings:
key 172 HOME
key 158 BACK
key 139 MENU
In the this files:
For more info, check out the thread above or the single post for more details.
August 20, 2012 By: Joseph Hindy
Now that the bootloader has finally been unlocked for the Verizon Samsung Galaxy S III, developers can focus on other things now. Namely, ROMs, kernels, mods, and coming up with fixes for bugs. One such bug that’s been plaguing Verizon Galaxy S III users is a wipe bug, which can cause some issues with permissions set improperly.
XDA Recognized Developer PureMotive has written up a guide for those unfortunate enough to run into the bug. As PureMotive explains:
Sometimes when you flash a ROM (TouchWiz or AOSP), there is a risk of the /system and /data partitions not wiping correctly thus leading them to be formatted with R/O permissions rather than R/W. This makes it impossible for the phone to boot up because no data can be written. Not even a typical ODIN flash back to stock or rooted stock will fix this. Using CWM to flash another ROM will yield the same no boot results. Furthermore, the stock recovery will not work and it becomes impossible to perform a factory reset. Sound frustrating? It is.
That about sums up the problem. Thankfully, there is also a solution. Users are instructed to obtain a number of files and then use Odin to get the phone working again. The interesting part comes during the Odin flash. Usually, users are instructed to never tick any Odin boxes except auto-reboot and F. Reset Time. This time, it’s a little different. During the last phase of the flashing process, users will have to tick the Nand Erase All box before flashing the final file. From there, it’s a simple reboot to stock recovery for some factory reset goodness and the phone should be fixed. As PureMotive puts it:
Congratulations, you just saved yourself $600 and a call to Verizon.
For the full instructions and file download links, head over to the original thread.
We recently told you about the CyanogenMod team beginning work on CM10. Now, a significant milestone has been reached: CM10 Nightlies have appeared for select devices. For those who aren’t familiar, a nightly build is an automatic build incorporating the latest changes in CM source for a device. Yesterday, CyanogenMod released the list of those devices that would be getting the first round of nightlies:
# The US SGS3 variants (AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint)
# The Galaxy Nexus variants
# The Nexus S varaints
# The Nexus 7
# The Transformer and Transformer Prime
# The SGS1 variants (Vibrant, Captivate, International, and i9000b)
# The SGS2 i9100g
# P3 and P5 tablets
That list will grow as other devices become ready and receive the blessing from their maintainers to begin nightlies. Be sure to keep your eyes open for when your device joins the list.
Update: We’ve received various reports from XDA Forum Member Scotto70 and others that the Nexus 7 build is currently nonfunctional. So if you’ve got a N7, we recommend that you hold off for the time being!
August 17, 2012 By: Jimmy McGee
There was a lot of great news published on the XDA Portal this week, and in case you missed it or you prefer your news read to to by a man with a beard, Jordan is here to help you with that. In perhaps the most epic news of this week, Jordan talks about what happened to the Verizon variant of the Samsung Galaxy S III. What happened to it? Oh, that’s right it got an unlocked bootloader! Also covered is the article regarding Google Voice calls on the Nexus 7.
Jordan mentions XDA Elite Recongized Developer and XDA Developer TV Producer AdamOutler’s Q&A Video and XDA Developer TV Producer TK’s app review from this week. Jordan mentions the HTC Desire HD receiving Ice Cream Sandwich. Finally, Jordan mentions the awesome story of the Jelly Bean leak for the International Galaxy S III.
August 16, 2012 By: Haroon Q. Raja
Got yourself a Galaxy S III on Verizon and getting annoyed by all those presidential alerts and those about severe weather? No one really wants to wake up at 4 in the morning because of a potential flood 50 miles away. Fortunately, you can now disable all of these.
The severe weather alerts can be disabled from the options provided in the stock ROM itself, as pointed out by XDA Forum Member Inous in this forum thread. Just open the stock Messaging app and from its menu, select ‘Emergency Alerts’. Once there, just uncheck all the alerts that you don’t want, and you’re done.
Unfortunately, there is no built-in option to disable the presidential alerts, as they are buried in the settings file for the messaging app. However, you can just disable the stock Messaging app as you would disable any other stock application (Settings -> Applications -> All -> Messaging, and tapping ‘Disable’). However, if you do this, you should consider loading another texting app such as Handcent or Go SMS to replace the missing functionality.
If you would rather stick with your stock messaging app and still disable the presidential alerts, you can do that—as long as your phone is rooted. The method of doing so was shared with us thanks to XDA Forum Member blazera in this thread.
Those of you who purchased a Samsung Galaxy S III on Verizon and were disappointed upon finding out that its bootloader was encrypted (not-unlockable) may now rejoice. An insecure bootloader is now available for the device. For those unaware, here is the back story: The Verizon Galaxy S III is probably the first Android device by Samsung that shipped with an encrypted bootloader, making it harder to root and sparking a petition by the community. Based on Samsung’s track record of always shipping devices with unlocked bootloaders, we can all safely deduce that Verizon is the one to blame here.
The devs here at XDA came to rescue shortly and it was rooted, but custom ROMs and kernels were still a no-go. Our developers didn’t give up, and soon we had a proof-of-concept method of bypassing the locked bootloader for custom kernel installation. Finally, in the true spirit of XDA, our very own XDA Elite Recognized Developer AdamOutler got to work on the encrypted bootloader and now we have the results!
You can install the insecure bootloader on your Verizon SGS III using the method provided in detail in this forum post. The tools also allow you to root the device, install hacking tools, flash CWM recovery, and much more. You will need to be running Linux or Mac OS X to load the required tools.
Note that once you unlock your device using this method, do NOT accept any OTA update that you get afterwards. It may possibly brick your device. If you must, first flash the full ODIN stock restoration packages provided in this post, or simply stick with custom ROMs. Also note that Samsung or Verizon may break this method in the future, but there is an exploit waiting for when that happens. Enjoy!
August 8, 2012 By: Joseph Hindy
World phones have been growing in popularity. With devices like the Motorola Photon 4G and the HTC Rezound having world phone capabilities, Samsung decided that their latest offering should as well. Thus, the Verizon Samsung Galaxy S III was equipped with dual radios for CDMA and GSM usage. Setting the phone up for world roaming isn’t overly difficult, either.
XDA Forum Member lair12 has written up an in depth tutorial on getting the Verizon Galaxy S III working overseas. It is a little tedious and requires a lot of applications along with a rooted device, but it does not require a lot of technical expertise to get it done. The pre-requisites include:
a1- rooted the phone with stock ROM
a2- use sprint.recovery.image for clockworkmod (others may work as well)
a3- load APN Manager app from Google Play
a4 – load HiAPN Global app from Google Play
a5 – load Ghost Commander app from Google Play
a6 – load Dropbox app from Google Play
a7- load PhoneInfo app from Google Play
a8 – back up APN’s to sd card through HiAPN
a9- edit “apnlist_backup.xml” found at sdcard>HiDroid_Net>HiAPN using Ghost Commander app (select DB text editor to open) and then edit to include your required APN information. Here are two sites to check if you do not know the correct information. What I did is left the US with several options already loaded into the APN file data so I could be ready for several possible providers.
While the steps may seem tedious, it certainly beats having to deal carrying with a traditional dumbphone when traveling oversees? After that, it does get less time consuming. Simply change a couple settings on the phone, and you’re ready to go. To get back to Verizon service, just change the settings back again. Lair12 even adds a short troubleshooting guide in case something goes wrong.
For the full tutorial, go to the original thread.
August 1, 2012 By: Joseph Hindy
Having a corrupt IMEI can be a real pain. It seems to happen randomly to flashaholics, and having the radio go down on a cell phone really defeats the purpose of owning a cell phone. Thankfully it is not problem that is overly common. Unfortunately, it does still happen. For AT&T Samsung Galaxy S III users, and in some cases users of the other US Galaxy S III variants, there are not one, but two ways to prevent this problem. There is now a tool that will back up your IMEI without much difficulty and a manual guide for those who prefer to dive into the nitty gritty.
The tool was developed by XDA Forum Member <:GeeK:>, while the manual method was written by XDA Senior Member Peoplearmy with some credited help from others. Both methods eventually perform the same task, which is backing up and restoring your IMEI, and each has its set of pros and cons. Without a doubt, the manual way is more involved. However, it actually supports all 4 US variants, although it hasn’t had to be tested on the Sprint version yet. The tool involves a much shorter and more simple—root free—process. Both methods also have tutorials on how to get your IMEI back if it is already corrupt. Between the two, they address every conceivable IMEI concern for the US Galaxy S III variants.
Despite the best efforts from OEMs, developers at XDA always seem to find a way to hack devices in such a way that the OEMs don’t know about it. Samsung’s method of tracking who flashes what and how many times is the flash counter, which goes up every time something is flashed via Download Mode. For many devices including the Verizon Samsung Galaxy S III, there are ways to reset the counter and make it look as though no flashes have occurred.
So far, this has only been tested on the Verizon Galaxy S III, but could be used on any Galaxy S III with only a few modifications based on the partition set up. The commands required are:
echo -n ‘\x01′ | dd obs=1 count=1 seek=4193796 of=/dev/block/mmcblk0
The variable x00 being the operative thing to pay attention to. While this can be used to reset the flash counter to zero, users could also have a little bit of fun and make the flash counter whatever they want it to be. Given the number of numbers with symbolic value, it’s not all that bad of an idea. Who wouldn’t want to have their flash counter stuck at 42.
To learn more, head over to the original thread.
July 24, 2012 By: Joseph Hindy
The Verizon Samsung Galaxy S III has been disappointing for those expecting unfettered development action. Although there is hope for the bootloader, it’s still discouraging to see the device fall behind its US SGS3 siblings. One piece of good news, though, is that the device is rooted. That means that there are still modifications that can be done such as editing the Earphones Connected feature.
For those who don’t know, the feature activates when headphone are plugged into the Galaxy S III, and provides a short list of headphone-compatible applications (i.e. YouTube, Music Player) in the notification drop down. XDA Forum Member xCaldazar has written up a nifty tutorial on how to modify the feature to show only the apps you want it to or to remove it completely.
There are no recovery-flashable files, which means that the mod must be done manually. This sounds difficult but it really isn’t that bad. Users will need to get SQLite Editor and, of course, be rooted. From there, users will determine which applications they want to include in the Earphones Connected list, open up the launcher.db, copy the package name, then open up the .db file for the Earphones Connected, and paste the package name. Names can also be removed if you don’t want them there. This allows full customization of the Earphones Connected feature. To turn it off entirely, use Titanium Backup—or another similar app—and freeze the contextaware service. Easy as pie.
For the full tutorial, head over to the original thread.
July 21, 2012 By: Joseph Hindy
One of the files you often have to deal with when learning to theme is SystemUI.apk. Inside, you find a number of things that themers often play with such as the notification drop down, status bar, and icons. Modifying files can give users a good insight into how Android works, and thus help them become familiar with the files that make our devices run.
Thanks to XDA Recognized Developer freeza, there is now a set of tutorials to help get users get more familiar with editing SystemUI.apk on US variants of the Samsung Galaxy S III. The tutorial is actually comprised of a number of smaller tutorials including:
Custom notification pulldown background:
Remove battery full notification:
How to decompile troublesome ICS apks on the GS3:
How to remove Quick settings toggle text or hide Quick Settinsg toggle:
How to change carrier label:
With more likely on the way, this is an excellent start for beginners to become more acquainted with the inner workings of the OS, as well as some of the tools used to modify these files. Plus, who doesn’t like custom notification drop down backgrounds?
To learn more, head over to the original thread.
July 19, 2012 By: Joseph Hindy
A couple of days ago, XDA Elite Recognized Developer AdamOutler wrote an article explaining locked bootloaders and what they mean for Verizon Samsung Galaxy S III owners. Even if you don’t own a Verizon Galaxy S III, it’s worth a read.
So now we know why we hate locked bootloaders, but the real question on everyone’s mind is how much progress the devs have made in this regard. AdamOutler is heading up the movement with a thread dedicated to unlocking the device’s bootloader. How dedicated? The thread is heavily moderated so no one—not even AdamOutler himself—can post any shenanigans.
Do not post in here unless you have something constructive to say. “Thanks”, “Hey this is wonderful”, and any other comments like that are not wanted. They take up space and make it more difficult to find information. I’m requesting that this thread be heavily moderated. In order to work efficiently, information density must be kept high. We are all guilty of adding in a few off-topic sentances from time-to-time, but this thread is strictly business and I expect the moderators to moderate me as well.
In a nutshell, the progress so far has been focused around gathering information and procuring a full stock restore image to be used via Odin or Heimdall. This is needed due to the highly dangerous nature of testing anything that unlocks a bootloader. Those attempting this could very easily brick their devices, and a full stock restoration would help get the devices up and running once again. Currently, there’s enough uploaded to restore a device, but everyone would be more comfortable with a complete backup.
Devs are currently working on identifying all of the partitions, obtaining UART Logs, and identifying potential points of exploitation. It is too early to say that any piece of information at this point is more important than any other, as any piece could eventually lead to the bootloader being unlocked. However, here are the possible points of exploitation:
Possible entry point MODEM – Someone with a JTAG setup test viability of modifying a single byte on /dev/block/mmcblk0p1
Possible entry point PARAMS – Samsung stores their boot parameters in PARAMS partition. It may be possible to modify PARAMS for insecure boot
Possible entry point BOOT – Modify CMDLINE parameter to load information from another location.
Possible entry point BOOT – We may be able to shove an insecure bootloader into memory, boot into that, and then use the recovery partition as our kernel partition. Bauwks 2nd U-Boot. U-Boot is available for the Exynos 4412, we need to find one for Qualcomm.
Possible entry point SYSTEM – It may be possible to use a 2nd init hack from this partition to load custom kernels into memory and reboot the kernel.
There is still a lot of work to be done, and there are no methods that have been tested yet. However, as information trickles in and the restoration files get completed, that’s likely to change very soon.
For additional information, check out the original thread. As previously stated, the thread is heavily modified to only include posts that are helpful in the effort. So be sure that before you post, it’s about something helpful!
July 17, 2012 By: Adam Outler
For the first time in the history of the Galaxy, Samsung has released a device with a “Locked Bootloader” in the form of the Verizon Galaxy S III. If you own this device, you should know that it is beyond the current abilities of XDA to support you. But, what does it actually mean to be “locked?” Locked can mean two things.
When one says “carrier locked,” they are referring to the device lacking the ability to run on different (but similar) networks. A carrier locked device will only run with services attributable to the carrier, meaning you cannot switch to a different carrier. Naturally, an unlocked GSM device in most cases will not work on a CDMA network (and vice versa).
If you say “locked bootloader”, you are referring to the inability to develop and run custom firmware on the device. Our operations on XDA-Developers mainly center around unlocked bootloaders. Unlocked bootloaders enable developers on the site to develop custom firmwares, kernels, and system applications. Having an unlocked bootloader is fundamental to running firmwares like CyanogenMod and AOSP.
To better explain the locked bootloader, lets take a look at the Chain-of-Trust. The device’s processor boots up and searches for a bootloader. Bootloaders start certain parts of the hardware. There are several bootloaders, which load in a chain. The first bootloader is loaded into memory and checked to meet certain criteria before being executed. The next bootloader follows the same pattern. Some devices have up to 8 bootloaders in their Chain-of-Trust. Finally, the kernel is loaded and launched by the bootloaders. When we are not able to replace the kernel with a custom kernel, the device is considered to have a locked bootloader.
Contrary to information you may read elsewhere, there are several methods to unlock bootloaders. Nexus devices have a tool called “fastboot,” which among other things, allows you to fastboot flash firmware. In most builds, executing the fastboot OEM unlock command will wipe upon unlock, however newer Galaxy Nexus devices are not performing this wipe operation. HTC offers HTC Unlock, which allows you to run load and run custom firmware packages. This method does not wipe your device. Devices with a Tegra processors use NVFlash, which in most cases allows insecure firmware uploads. Samsung has never before locked a device. Instead, they provide a warning about what can happen before you load a custom firmware. The Samsung Odin3 tool simply communicates with the Loke daemon running on the device, and allows users to upload custom firmware.
The locking of the Verizon Galaxy S III is a huge issue for the developers of XDA-Developers.
Most manufacturers choose to drop Chain-of-Trust security early in the boot sequence, instead choosing to protect firmware upload methods. The Verizon Galaxy S III has secure firmware upload and chain-of-trust enabled all the way to the kernel, which means if any changes are made to the kernel or bootloaders, the device is rendered entirely inoperative. This is certainly no way to thank developers for creating new features on your products.
Adding insult to injury, Samsung has offered up a “Developer Edition” device. This device has an unlocked bootloader, just like the rest of it’s Galaxy S III brethren. However, this device must be bought off-contract for $600. So basically, they want developers to pay them money AGAIN because they are unhappy with the stock firmware on their devices. Will Samsung then come along afterwards, and hand-pick the best open-source developments from developers on this site to incorporate in their next release? Thankfully, efforts are ongoing to work around this problem.
Samsung, every line of code spent working around a problem is a line of code that does not add a new feature.
Would you like to help in unlocking the Verizon Galaxy S III? Verizon Galaxy S III users have posted a petition to Verizon requesting unlock. There is a bounty of over $2500 USD for an unlock method. There is also a research and development thread about the partitions, bootloaders, and hardware. Raged about the Verizon Galaxy S III? Have any information like Qualcomm processor manuals, datasheets, or theory of operations? Have a great idea about how to unlock a Galaxy S III? Post it in the comments below!
[Image Credit: Kevin Lee]