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Detect, Avoid IMSI-Catcher Attacks with Android IMSI-Catcher Detector

Posted by wicked November - 22 - 2014 - Saturday Comments Off

Android IMSI-Catcher Detector

Privacy is always an important topic, as well as a delicate one to cover. Corporations spend millions to provide the best security systems, which are then quite often cracked by hackers or security researchers. You might not be aware that some fake cell towers (a.k.a. IMSI-Catchers, StingRays, GSM Interceptors, Subscriber Trackers) can be used to track and monitor specific groups of users and even remotely manipulate a particular phone. Scary, right? Unfortunately, few parts of the world are free of such unethical practices. There are various conspiracy theories–some credible, others not so much–involving the use of IMSI-Catchers in various contexts such as surveillance/spying and assasinations. Today, IMSI-Catchers are a global phenomenon that exist not only in the US, and are used by both law enforcement and other groups.

Now, for the good news. As you know, the XDA forums are full of brilliant people who use their development knowledge to provide some of the best services to Android users, especially in parts of the world where Google themselves tend to fail. XDA Recognized Developer E:V:A and XDA Senior Member SecUpwN and their team members came up with an idea to create an app that identifies and possibly blocks fake cell towers from being used by your phone, thus protecting your privacy. This is how the IMSI Catcher/Spy Detector project was born, here on XDA. All development is fully open-source under GPL v3+ and located in an official GitHub repository. To protect smartphone users and make this app what it is meant to be, the project creators are now actively searching for Android developers, baseband hackers, and brave whistle blowers!

Today, the AIMSICD project is celebrating its first birthday since it launched development on GitHub exactly one year ago (to the minute). Since then, AIMSICD and has become quite popular, both among privacy oriented users and curious security researchers. If you live in an area that may be directly affected by fake cell towers, the AIMSICD Project is definitely a project worth following closely. Moreover, you are invited to submit pull requests if you have a contribution to make! AIMSICD aims to provide you the maximum protection against fraud–for free and completely open source, which is an important factor for credibility in this field. So what are you waiting for? Help them develop their app and contribute to a better privacy-oriented future!

You can learn much more about this project and the security by all its means by visiting their GitHub repository website. Don’t hesitate to contribute pull requests to make this app even more useful and help it reach its goals by following the Development Roadmap. Stay safe!


The post Detect, Avoid IMSI-Catcher Attacks with Android IMSI-Catcher Detector appeared first on xda-developers.

SuperSU BETA: Root Android Lollipop on Stock Kernel

Posted by wicked November - 20 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off


Up until now, if you wanted to get root on Android 5.0, you needed to flash a modified kernel onto your device to work around some SELinux restrictions. XDA Senior Recognized Developer Chainfire recently released the previously-necessary CF-Auto-Root package, which made the necessary kernel ramdisk modifications to remove SELinux restriction from the script on AOSP. This morning, however, Chainfire brought smiles to many faces, as he announced on Twitter that this would no longer be necessary going forward.

Up until today, Chainfire had planned to release an automated ZIP-based patching tool, to automatically patch kernel images from within TWRP recovery,  until he came across a suitable method to remove the need for this.

This revelation means that Android 5.0 users no longer need to run a modified kernel to gain root access via SuperSU (or other root solutions). While not a huge problem on Nexus devices with unlockable bootloaders, the need for ramdisk modifications was concerning for many users of bootloader-locked devices for which no unlock is available (yes, they do unfortunately exist). The answer to their prayers is now here, and we can present an exclusive explanation of the changes needed. At least for now (until/unless Google patch this), it is possible to gain root access and then install and use SuperSU on a stock Android 5.0 device, without any kernel ramdisk tweaking. The reason for this is the need for SuperSU to run a service as root, to allow for unconstrained root access on SELinux-protected devices.

Previously, SuperSU would leverage the pre-installed AOSP flash_recovery service (used in AOSP to update recovery after an OTA installation) to start the SuperSU daemon (which actually provides the root privileges for apps which request it). With the release of Lollipop, this service has been added to a restricted SELinux context, meaning it no longer has unadulterated access to the system. The previous kernel modifications sought to remove the SELinux restrictions from this script.

Chainfire’s latest beta release of SuperSU resolves this by using the core ‘Zygote’ service (responsible for launching all Java services, and thus all apps installed on a device). Since Zygote is one of the only services available on Android L, which is started as root within the unrestricted “init” SELinux context, this makes it a prime target for use in the operation of SuperSU. After boot, the Zygote service has its SELinux “init” context transitioned to its final (restricted) “Zygote” context. Chainfire has managed to successfully modify the Zygote files, in order to run code as the root user, within the unrestricted “init” context, thus bringing SuperSU back to Android L, without kernel modifications.

This isn’t the first time Chainfire has turned to Zygote to solve these problems; the earlier 2.23 beta used Zygote as a means to possibly circumvent some other SELinux issues (which were causing root apps to break on Android L). This allowed some (but not all) of the non-functioning apps to work – the remainder require some updates by their developers. Unfortunately, when the 5.0 AOSP code was consulted, it emerged that Google had already broken this method of taking over the Zygote service. Given all his previous attempts to take over Zygote had failed, this is a promising step forward.

Chainfire was keen to point out that SuperSU has long been able to modify SELinux policies on a running system (and cautions as to the ease with which an OEM could disable this, and truly prevent meaningful and simple root access), and how any modifications made to Zygote must be made carefully, given the service is run from various different contexts, for different tasks, and this raises the possibility of a number of (nasty) subtle failures. This new SuperSU beta 2.27 is a build for enthusiasts and other techies to play with, to find out what breaks. Fingers crossed–there’s no unexpected show-stopper bugs, and this is a viable way forward.

Take note – even if this beta works out and Zygote is the preferred avenue to gain root access, going forward, the entire process is only a single-line change away from being broken by Google, which would make patched kernel ramdisks the future for root access on Android (thus ruling out root for bootloader-locked devices). Indeed, as a heads-up, the new process may not even work on a fully up-to-date AOSP build, due to some fairly large SELinux changes within the past few months, which were not included in the retail devices, but which will no doubt be there in future releases. Sooner or later though, it seems likely that modified kernel ramdisks will be necessary for root, but this new beta may offer a short stay-of-execution before we must go in that direction.

Check out the release notes for more information about the risks involved in testing this out, and for links. Developers should also be aware that Chainfire is currently hard at work on the “How-To SU” guide (fully updated for Android 5.0), which should be available within the next few days.

[A huge thanks to Chainfire for his work here, and assistance in preparing this article.]

The post SuperSU BETA: Root Android Lollipop on Stock Kernel appeared first on xda-developers.

Google Helpouts on XDA

Posted by wicked November - 13 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Helpouts on XDA

We believe in the power of the Internet forum for sharing information. Questions, answers, comments, and discussion on XDA are archived and searchable so future users can locate and learn from them. XDA Developers has become a valuable compendium of data and information, transforming “long-tail” searches to clear, concise answers.

We also know that sometimes users need more advanced assistance—a deeper, real-time discussion—and these types of conversations can be difficult on forums. With that in mind, we’re testing out a new partnership with Google Helpouts that will enable an entirely new type of communication on XDA. Google Helpouts makes it possible for you to connect to experts for one-on-one conversations via chat, voice, or video with screenshare. You’ll now be able to get instant access to assistance from experts, including XDA Recognized Contributors and Developers. Advice can be tailored to your specific query.

Over the next few weeks, guests on XDA will be able to ask questions via Google Helpouts. We’re starting slow but hopefully over time, we’ll facilitate thousands of in-depth conversations. A highlight of this partnership is that if both parties agree, the session can be sent back to us so we can clean it up and post it to the forums, allowing future visitors to benefit from the back-and-forth discussion.

To get started, find the Helpouts logo on the XDA website, or you can learn more here.

Have knowledge you want to share?

Help other developers solve problems and keep developing your own skills. Sign up now.

The post Google Helpouts on XDA appeared first on xda-developers.

Google’s AOSP QA Team MIA for Android Lollipop?

Posted by wicked November - 6 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

L AOSP Browser Crash

As the launch of Android Lollipop continues to dominate headlines, and developers settle down to take a look at the sources for Lollipop, I took a critical first look, from my own compiled AOSP sources, and came to the worrying conclusion that Google simply doesn’t care about AOSP any more. Either that, or their own internal QA team has gotten lost somewhere in the Googleplex, unable to send a distress message out. Either way, the quality of the Android 5.0 AOSP release should certainly be alarming to the executives on the Android team. Let’s take a look…

AOSP Android L LockscreenFirst Impressions

Upon powering on my Nexus 7 2013, running a clean AOSP build (from the r2 release tags), I was greeted by a wonderful Jellybean-era default wallpaper. For a company apparently so keen to push forward the Material Design philosophy of bolder, more geometric designs, with brighter and more contrasting colours, it seems strange that a default wallpaper using slow-blended, muted colours would be part of a bright, pastel-oriented operating system. It doesn’t exactly set a brilliant tone for this release of AOSP.

Oh well, fair enough–it’s only a wallpaper! You could always just go and get some of the proper ones.

User Interface Consistency

After booting up AOSP, you’re faced with the ever-dwindling number of applications that are actually part of the Android open-source project. Unfortunately, we’re now down to the AOSP browser, a calculator, calendar, camera, clock, contacts browser, downloads viewer, email app, gallery, music player, search button, and settings. Yup, that’s it! Everything else has been offloaded into the closed-source Google Apps suite. Search barely counts, as it would appear to be unchanged from the era of Android, pre-1.5.

Android L WiFI Setup - FloGetting Online

First off, I decided to get online–time to add a WiFi network. Unfortunately, it appears even a simple dialogue box (which every user will see) is too difficult for Google to get right! All of the headings had text-wrapped, often mid-word. For a final release, this is simply pathetic, especially given this was also present in the preview releases. It’s worth noting at this point, that I am holding the device in a portrait orientation, just like the device is pictured for promotional photographs.

It appears Google’s user interface department was taking a vacation when this part of the process was designed. Likewise for the quality assurance department. For something like this to be in released software is utterly dumbfounding. Does nobody in Google take responsibility for making sure the end product has a little bit of polish? They managed to get it right in landscape orientation (below), just apparently not for portrait!


Oh well, surely it can’t get any worse? It’s not too big a deal; no functionality lost. Perhaps just a little egg on the face of the savior and hero of Android design fans?

Android L AOSP BrowserThe Browser

Opening the Browse yields a somewhat disappointing sight. It is visually identical to the browser included in Android 4.4. Which was pretty much the same as in 4.3, 4.2 and 4.1. And pretty much 4.0 as well, while we’re at it. The AOSP browser, sans Material-remake, is really a rather sorry sight.

It’s almost as though it’s stuck in a time-warp! The application’s layout is clearly not consistent with the User Experience (UX) design principles of Material design or colour scheme. But hey, let’s put that aside and actually use the Browser–we don’t want to be too fussy.

Heading to the Settings menu, I hit “General”, just to take a look at what was on offer. Unfortunately, all that’s on offer is a Force Close, due to a programming error. Checking the error logs makes it seem that the issue is one that’s easily fixable (and something I seemed to have to fix in 4.4, albeit for only one particular screen of Settings).

L AOSP Browser CrashUndeterred, I proceeded to try the other options in Settings. Each yielded a similar Force Close.I have no idea what on earth has happened over at Google HQ, but it’s clear they have never heard of the two words, “quality” and “assurance” being put together to form a phrase. I’d made this discovery within about 5 minutes of booting up AOSP. Surely to goodness, someone actually tested this before releasing it?

Ah well, not really a usable browser, let’s take a look elsewhere!

Material, oh Material , Wherefore art thou Material?

Android L CalendarUnfortunately, it appears that Google’s commitment towards Material design doesn’t extend to its own core applications. Although we recently saw an update to Google Calendar on Google Play, the AOSP calendar app appears relatively unchanged from 4.4. As do the dull grey status bars. The calendar has always been a key selling point of the concept of a smartphone or tablet, yet the AOSP one certainly seems to have had no love yet.

Unfortunately, the same can be said of the Music app. I won’t bore you with a screenshot, but needless to say, nothing has changed (at least from an appearance perspective) since Android 1.5 or thereabouts! Likewise for the Gallery, and Search.

OK, Let’s set up Email!

Android said no, unfortunately. Adding an IMAP account yielded a series of constant force closes. Apparently as a result of the IMAP account not specifying any details about calendar sync. Newsflash, newsflash, developers at Google, IMAP isn’t a calendar sync protocol–it’s simply an email sync protocol. Nothing more. At least Exchange email works, but it seems Google are determined to force users into using the proprietary Gmail application to access even non-Gmail accounts in the future. I suspect a fork of the AOSP Email app will be necessary if this continues!

It’s a real shame actually, as Email is one of the few apps to have had a Material design overhaul. Sure, it’s not perfect (the UX is a bit fumbly, especially the hamburger menu on the left hand edge), but it at least has some aesthetic polish. It’s just a real shame that Google can’t seem to get the basics right with this new release of AOSP, and actually support adding an email account!


I really wanted to like Android 5.0. I tried out the developer preview release, which was nice to use. There were issues and bugs, but that’s what preview releases are for! Preview releases don’t get the same QA as the final product. Unfortunately though, it seems that Google’s entire QA team went missing in action before the launch of Android L. With three new devices shipping with L, it remains to be seen if these issues will carry across onto the actual factory images – it’s notable that no factory images have been released for older devices, such as the Nexus 7 2013. Perhaps someone senior spent more than ten seconds with the release, and put on the brakes?

Frankly, I’m really disappointed by Lollipop. As a developer, the lack of testing here is truly shocking. Custom ROMs on XDA would certainly appear to undergo more testing than this release had. As someone who cares a lot about User Experience, the lack of quality assurance on the interface and aesthetics is downright disastrous. Either way, I would certainly not be surprised to see a large number of vacancies posted for positions on Google’s Android team, after this launch. Lollipop, at least in its AOSP form, is not ready for the big-time just yet. A trip back to the drawing board, and hiring of some people who understand test-driven development would go a long way. Or maybe go take on an external consultant to help get the team into shape and turning out quality products? My email is always open to approaches (lol, as if).

Maybe we should all just hang off in the hope of an android-5.0.0_r2.1 tag? It now appears that Google has delayed the release of OTA builds of Lollipop until the 12th of November (see comments). Hopefully the quality assurance team will have found their way back to the office by then!

The post Google’s AOSP QA Team MIA for Android Lollipop? appeared first on xda-developers.

Source Built Lollipop for Nexus 4, 5, 7, 10, Xperia Z

Posted by wicked November - 6 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

android 5.0 lollipop

Update: Thank you to commenter Amith KK for letting us know about the Source-Built Lollipop port for the Nexus 7 (2012) by XDA Senior Member MidnightNinja.


The source code for Android 5.0 Lollipop was only fully released yesterday, but developers on XDA work extremely quickly. In less than one day, some developers have managed to create Lollipop builds for particular devices. Let’s see which devices are capable of using Lollipop as a daily driver so far.

It was easy to predict that Nexus devices would be the first to get these unofficial builds. Google Nexus 4 “mako” users have a chance to test one such Lollipop build. It has been prepared by XDA Senior Member C-o-M, and it is nothing more than a vanilla build of AOSP, without Google Apps or any other enhancements. The build reportedly works with 4.4.4 Gapps, but there are some flaws like a force closing keyboard or missing sync provider in the Calendar app. There is another build made by XDA Senior Member sykopompos, but its’ a direct port from Nexus 5’s preview releases.

Nexus 7 (2013) “flo” owners can use a Lollipop source-built port by XDA Recognized Developer scrosler. The developer prepared a Google Apps package with applications available for the Nexus 9, which is also a tablet device, so there should be no issues caused by the gapps package used. If you’re planning to use this build, you need to flash the newest version of the Nexus 7 bootloader from the latest developer preview.

Source-built Lollipop is also available for the Google Nexus 10, thanks to XDA Senior Member stiggy2012. Although the build is devoid of Google apps, users are already reporting great success in terms of usability and stability. You can get in on the action at the Lollipop for the Nexus 10 thread.

Quite a bit of Android 5.0 Lollipop goodness was made available for the Google Nexus 5 “hammerhead”. There are 3 ROMs available. The first Lollipop ROM for the Nexus 5 is a pure AOSP experience and was compiled by XDA Recognized Developer OldDroid. The ROM is available as fastboot images, just like the images prepared by Google. It lacks Gapps and new binary files, but we need to wait a bit to see them available. The Second Lollipop ROM for the N5 comes from XDA Recognized Contributor herna. This is a pure AOSP experience with a modified kernel. The last N5 release is a pure AOSP build made by XDA Senior Member yashade2001.

The only non-Nexus device on the list at this point is the Sony Xperia Z. Android 5.0 Lollipop was ported over by XDA Senior Member thomas1991_12, but there are quite a few items that need to be fixed before we can call it a daily driver. This should be resolved pretty quick, as the Xperia Z was one of the first devices with fully working Android 4.3. You can grab it from here.

There may be some ROMs that have popped since we started writing this article, so please feel free to share any links you find in the comments below. The community works incredibly quickly, so it’s pretty hard to keep up. Hopefully, Google will finally release the official images for all of the supported Nexus devices, as well as the proper binaries, so truly stable builds can be created. This will also surely speed up the development for other devices.

The post Source Built Lollipop for Nexus 4, 5, 7, 10, Xperia Z appeared first on xda-developers.

Android 5.0 Lollipop Source Fully Available to Build

Posted by wicked November - 4 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off


After many long hours of waiting, Google has finally finished pushing the full Android Lollipop source code to their Git mirror. Surprisingly, there are two revisions available already: 5.0.0_r1 for Nexus 9 and 5.0.0_r2 for Nexus Player. Get your terminals ready; there’s a lot of of repo syncing to do.

Google started to push the sources yesterday, but the whole process took them a little longer than most would have hoped. Android 5.0 is a big release, so there are lots of new repositories that needed to be added. If you can’t wait for Google to release the refreshed factory images and binaries, you can build the OS by yourself–albeit with older driver binaries. All you need to do is execute the following command in the Terminal window of your PC or build machine:

repo init -u -b android-5.0.0_r1

The sync process might take a long time, since you will have to download many gigabytes of data. And of course, the estimated time of arrival may vary due to factors like your connection speed and congestion. Soon, we will see numerous custom ROM based on Android 5.0 Lollipop, such as all the large-scale multi-device custom ROMs that we’ve all grown to love.

The exact release date for the Nexus device factory images is still unknown. But hopefully, we will see them start to appear in the next few days or weeks. Meanwhile, go to syncing and code reviewing!

The post Android 5.0 Lollipop Source Fully Available to Build appeared first on xda-developers.

Latest Android Platform Stats: KitKat Hits 30%, 2.x Falls to 10%!

Posted by wicked November - 4 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

Dashboards   Android Developers1

Dashboards   Android Developers2

As is the case at the start of every month, Google has once again updated its Android Developer Dashboard website with the latest Android Platform Distribution Stats. These numbers show the degree of platform fragmentation and few other interesting things that can be very useful especially for developers looking to better target their applications’ UI and required API level.

This month is a pretty significant one for Android 4.x KitKat. For the first time in its lifetime, the OS revision has finally reached 30% of active Android devices that have connected to Google Play in the last week. This leaves leaving Jelly Bean 4.1.x in second place at just under 23% and 4.2.x in third place with little over 20%. Older versions of Android are still available on a small number of devices, with a 2.x (Froyo and Gingerbread) finally falling to around 10% combined. In case you missed that, Android 2.3 is now for the first time in quite a while under 10% install base. Ice Cream Sandwich is also down at just 8.5%. They won’t be missed.

This increasing number of devices running KitKat might be due in part to MediaTek, which finally updated a large number of devices using its SoC. Some other OEMs and chip manufacturers have also helped by updating Android versions prior to Android Lollipop’s release to the AOSP. In the coming months, the number of KitKat and Jelly Bean devices may end up decreasing as we hope to see new devices shipping with Android 5.0 and some older devices getting OTAs to Google’s latest edible.

As always, Google also shared statistics regarding the screen size and OpenGL version. The majority of devices use the normal screen size with hdpi density. The number of big devices may increase in the next generation due to Nexus 6 and OnePlus One–and of course popular devices like the Note 4. Unfortunately, almost three quarters of devices are running OpenGL ES 2.0 rather than OpenGL ES 3.0.Dashboards   Android Developers3

















As we’ve seen in the past, the number of devices running older operating systems will undoubtedly decrease as OEMs start updating their handsets to the latest versions of Android. Hopefully, this will happen at a faster rate than we’ve seen in previous versions. Google is doing its best to reduce fragmentation, so we should expect to see the results pretty soon.

[Source: Android Developer Dashboard]

The post Latest Android Platform Stats: KitKat Hits 30%, 2.x Falls to 10%! appeared first on xda-developers.

Google Updates Play Games, Wallet, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drive, Google+, and Camera

Posted by Will Verduzco October - 30 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Google Android Apps

While we haven’t really had much in the way of consistent “Google Update Wednesdays” in the past few months, Google sure knows how to get back in the groove of things when they want to. Throughout the day yesterday, Google unleashed a massive wave of updates to a good deal of its first party Android apps, including Google Play Games, Wallet, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drive, Google+, and Camera. So what’s new in all of these Google updates and how can you get in on the action a bit early? Read on to find out.

First up, we have Google Play Games. Yesterday’s update brings a rather substantial user interface update that finally makes the app Material Design compliant. The app dons new animations, a new visual look, and even a revamped icon. All in all, the experience is much more inline with Google’s new Android Lollipop / Material Design look. You can get in on the action, as well as download the latest version of Google Play Services from XDA Portal Supporter MihirGosai‘s Google Play Services and Play Games repository thread!

Next, we have updates to Google Wallet. The latest Wallet update is a massive one, not just in features and functionality, but also in terms of version number. The upgrade from version 2 to version 7.0 is as significant as it would seem, as it brings not only a full Material Design UI update, but also new options to manage your physical Google Wallet card (if you have ordered one), as well as the ability to set low balance notifications and automatically add money to your account. The APK for this and the rest of the updates is available at the end of this post, so do yourself a favor and go use this new version in your local Apple store.

Moving on, we have a few updates to Google’s mobile productivity suite: Docs 1.3.422.14.35, Sheets 1.3.422.12.35, Slides 1.0.952.14.35, and Drive 2.1.424.13.35. The updates to Docs, Sheets, and Slides are relatively minor, bringing a new “Incoming” section in the slide-out “hamburger” menu that enables you to easily view documents that have been shared with you by other users. On the other hand, the update to Google Drive is a bit more substantial, allowing you to now highlight and copy text from PDFs opened within the app, as well as a better search feature. As stated above, all of these APKs are available at the bottom of this post.

Finally, we have a couple of minor updates to Google+ and Google Camera. Bumping us up to version 4.7 (from 4.6), Google+ now has a few very minor UI changes and bug fixes. Similarly, Google Camera 2.4.023 gives us a few subtle UI tweaks in the form of updated settings toggle animations and a new app icon.

As is generally always the case, these Google updates will gradually make their way out to end user devices through the Google Play Store over the next few days. However, we’ve gone ahead and mirrored them on our Google Drive for your early access, sideloading pleasure.

[Many thanks to XDA Portal Supporter MihirGosai for the heads up and the APKs!]

The post Google Updates Play Games, Wallet, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drive, Google+, and Camera appeared first on xda-developers.

Android L is for Lockdown

Posted by egzthunder1 October - 21 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off


Root is, without a doubt, the (un)holy grail of the Android world. Those wonderful permissions that allow you as the user to pretty much do as you please with your device are certainly a major delight, and really one of the top reasons why Android devices have gained as much popularity as they have–not just among end users but among developers as well. There is yet another aspect of the OS that keeps people coming back for more, and that is the fresh, constant stream of updates and new OS versions. However, these two can hardly coexist with one another. Normally, whenever a new update for … well… anything comes out, it does so with features, bug fixes, and plugged holes. The latter are the ones that are normally required to obtain things such as root level access on our devices. This means that if you update, for the most part, you can kiss root goodbye. Granted, there are apps that will help root survive even an OTA upgrade but still companies making these OS and devices always are on the look out to ensure that the holes and exploits are plugged.

The latest and greatest installment of our beloved Android OS is Lollipop (Android 5), which is something that has been on pretty much everyone’s mouth in the tech world for the last week or so as it became available in the latest and most functional Developer Preview. The latest Lollipop installment is build version LPX13D, and aside from being one step closer to the final release, this one also brings the kiss of death for root, which pretty much is the case with all updates as we mentioned earlier. No biggie, right? We simply root again and be done with it, right? Or we simply use a root survival app and we keep going, right?? Nah, not exactly. There are several changes in device security, prompted in part by people and companies seeking the security and sanctuary of their precious data and nude pics. So, with that in mind, Google came to the rescue.

XDA Senior Recognized Developer and Senior Moderator Chainfire has been warning us of all the upcoming changes in the Android world for quite some time now, especially since the newer Jelly Bean and KitKat updates hit the shelves. Well, so far, we can officially say that he has been dead on target on everything he has said regarding the increased security on new versions of Android. The newest Lollipop update, LPX13D, seems to break root, like most updates do. However, it seems to do more than just break it because with the correct combination of factors, a device can become unrootable. Chainfire goes on to explain that the reason why root gets “broken” is mainly because the script required to grant root is no longer allowed to run at boot time from init.d, but rather it is forced to run from a SELinux dedicated context instead. This, apparently, is a new requirement for all apps and services running at boot.

The solution that Chainfire provides is to enable root at kernel level. In other words, you need a custom kernel in order to obtain root. However, many times, you need root in order to flash a custom kernel. Fine, some of you might say that by flashing via custom recovery, that the kernel can be flashed with ease. What if the bootloader is locked? Better yet, what if the bootloader cannot be unlocked? Yup, you got yourself a stock device forever (or until someone gets past the security measures). Essentially, Google is giving manufacturers a golden opportunity to put root access to rest for good. They will not do it to their devices, as the Nexus line has an unlockable bootloader, but no one can guarantee the case will be the same for other manufacturers.

The question then becomes, would the OEMs be willing to close off the devices for good, particularly considering that a large chunk of the sales come from word of mouth? Once Lollipop starts rolling out in its final form, it will be mighty interesting to see which OEMs go in what direction. One thing is for sure, these are trying times for people who enjoy their devices because of the freedom they have with root level access. Once you face the crossroad, which direction will you take?

If you are interested in the full explanation by Chainfire, you can head on to his Google+ page and read his entire take on this issue.

The post Android L is for Lockdown appeared first on xda-developers.

Some of Our Favorite Features in Android 5.0 Lollipop

Posted by wicked October - 20 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off


Android 5.0 Lollipop is the latest major revision to Google’s mobile operating system. The Mountain View company waited a long time to bump the version to 5.0.

With Android Lollipop’s upcoming final release, we will see many under-the-hood changes that will make this OS even more complete than it is today. Google made efforts to reduce the fragmentation and implement some exciting features.

Unbundling of WebView from the OS

One of the most important new features that has been spotted so far is that WebView is now a separate package, which can be updated straight from Google. This means that a larger number of users will have access to an up-to-date WebView, leading to greater security that the built-in variant. WebView is a component that is used by third party applications to display Web content without launching the browser. Unbundling WebView makes the update process independent from OEMs update schedule. This is definitely good news to all users of devices whose OEMs aren’t the best with updates.


 Multi-User Support for Phones

Multi-user support has been available in Android ever since Android 4.2. Unfortunately, it was historically available only for tablet users. Bringing this feature to phones has been highly demanded by the community, and Google finally decided to give the users what we want. The core functionality is pretty much the same. The first user is considered the owner of the device and controls who else can use the device. Every profile has its own welcome screen, application settings, wallpapers, and such. Profiles can be switched by pressing the head button into top right corner of the screen. Now, you can stop worrying about your kids and friends seeing private content on your phone.


Application Pinning

Speaking of children and friends… Starting with Android 5.0 Lollipop, users can now pin to lock the currently running application. If your device has some kind of protection (PIN, pattern, etc), any other potential user will have to breach its security in order to access other applications once pinning has been enabled. This is a very convenient way of protecting your data. Now, not everybody has to check your browser history or gallery before handing off the phone.


Google Search in Recent Apps

nexus2cee_searchscreen-390x625Google also added its Search prowess to the Recent Apps screen. Android developers are really trying to make Google Search accessible from every screen. As such, you are now just one tap of your Recent Apps menu away from search at any time. Furthermore, even the “OK Google” function can be used from that screen (if you haven’t already enabled it from all other screens). The motivation behind this feature addition is clears, as the Search engine was Google’s original claim to fame and still one of its major revenue sources


Backed Up Preferences, Applications, and More

If you are purchasing a new Android device, you likely already have your own favorite set of apps and more. Google has for a long time backed up your list of applications and WiFi networks, but importing this has never quite worked as it should. For example, some applications are automatically downloaded even when you haven’t used them for ages. With Lollipop, Google refined the system considerably. You can now transfer all relevant settings and applications (even Google Now Launcher settings) through NFC at the time of initial login or selectively through the Internet connection. While unavailable, applications that are to be downloaded will be shown as gray icons that launch their Play Store listing when clicked. After they are restored, they will look and behave like they did before. Furthermore, since Android has offered cloud backup of app data for some time, applications that are coded to use this feature will behave just like they did on the previous device or installation, without the need for third party app data backup and restore apps!


Two Factor Authentication from Initial Login

nexus2cee_1_thumb10If you use two-factor authentication (and you really should following all these nasty leaks), you are probably familiar with how the account login screen opens up a browser window in order to enter your time-sensitive security code. Android Lollipop changes this, as you can now enter the code right from the login screen itself, which will undoubtedly make security-conscious users happier.


Application Hierarchy Changes

Now for something a bit more behind the scenes… Unlike before, system applications are now placed in folders, where the APK and odex (if it exists) have their dedicated place. Applications are still divided into apps and priv-apps folders, so the OS is getting a little more complicated than it was before. We hope that this is just a small change that won’t affect app porting in any way.

Flappy Android Easter Egg

Last but not the least, we have a brand new Easter Egg. The funky folks over at Google have once again proven that they have a pretty good sense of humor. Do you remember the Nyan Cat Easter Egg back in Ice Cream Sandwich? If you don’t, you can brush up here. With Android 5.0, Google decided to make its own version of the immortal Flappy Bird. This time, you have a chance to tap your screen like crazy to control the bugdroid to squeeze it between two giant lollipops. Be aware: Lollipops are sticky, so your small flapping buddy can easily lose its flying abilities. We wish you all good scores!

Android 5.0 Lollipop is a pretty exciting revision, and we are (im)patiently awaiting the day when we can get our grubby little hands on the source code. Hopefully this version of Android will be up and running on many older devices through the third party development scene. This may be difficult due to ART and storage issues, but the XDA community has quite often shown that limitations can be blasted into oblivion.

[via Android Police]

The post Some of Our Favorite Features in Android 5.0 Lollipop appeared first on xda-developers.

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