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Root achieved for Sony Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact with locked bootloader

Posted by wicked January - 25 - 2015 - Sunday Comments Off

sony xperia z3 compact review aa (10 of 21)

Owners of Sony Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact Android handsets that have a locked bootloader, it is your lucky day. At least, it is if you’ve been hoping to root your device.

A clever dev over at the XDA-Forums has scored himself a touch of bounty for working out the xploit. Sorry… exploit. The method is not intended for the international Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact devices, which come with unlockable bootloaders, and are rather easily tinkered with by the AOSP and ROM enthusiasts. Nor is it for the Verizon variants with modified hardware. Instead, the exploit is for markets like the U.S. where carriers tend to lock things down.

Let’s not beat around the bush here, with Android Lollipop set to release for Sony hardware soon, You are likely better off waiting for the OTA before rooting. Also, this is not an easy process. Right off the bat, up to date firmware is not compatible, so you’ll need to first roll back to version 23.0.1.A.5.77. From there, it is a matter of simply creating a pre-rooted version of the phone’s hardware, flash a recovery image for your model, then apply the root exploit itself.

sony xperia z3 review (18 of 26)

XDA user zxz0O0 is who you have to thank for bringing root to your locked Sony Xperia Z3 or Xperia Z3 Compact. He’s been known to bring exploit and similar tools to the forums and will take home at least a part of the current $3017 bounty available for breaking the lock on Sony gear.

Head on over to the XDA post on the matter to get all the resources and instructions to root your Sony Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact handsets.

Will you go for root on your Xperia Z3 or Xperia Z3 Compact?

Partitions Backup & Restore app hits Android and requires root access

Posted by wicked January - 21 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

If you like to tinker with your Android device, it’s a good idea to backup the partitions on the device in case something goes wrong. With a backup you can restore your device if your tinkering causes an issue. A new app has turned up on Android called Partitions Backup & Restore.

The app does require your device to be rooted and is able to detect all device partitions including the bootloader, Kernel, and other sensitive partitions. Since it can detect all partitions on your device, it can also backup the partitions.

The app is able to backup the partitions to an SDCard or External SDCard and it can restore raw partition images. The pro version of the app can highlight all related IMEI/EFS partitions. Three different backup formats are supported.

partitions-1
partitions-2
partitions-3
partitions-4

Raw partition images can be restored using the app. Users can also archive Tar images and compressed GZ images. The app supports stock and custom ROMs. The app is 2.1MB in size and requires Android 3.0 or higher to work.

SOURCE: Google Play

WhatsCloud [ROOT] update brings improved power efficiency

Posted by wicked January - 16 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

The WhatsCloud Root app has been around for a while now and as the name implies, it requires root access to your device. The app is designed to allow you to message friends from your desktop or a tablet and is meant to be secure with 256-bit AES end-to-end encryption.

Users that use WhatsCloud on the desktop get notifications in Chrome when a message is received. For many people sitting in front of a computer, using WhatsCloud to chat is more comfortable and faster than using the smartphone or tablet keyboard.

The update to the app brings one major improvement to the mix- improved power consumption. The latest version is 1.1.9 and improved battery usage with the update means no more wakeups for your device.

By using less power, your device will be able to run longer between charges. The update landed January 15 and is 2.8MB in size. WhatsCloud [ROOT] has as many as 50,000 installs and requires Android 2.3 or higher to operate.

SOURCE: Google Play

How to enable Exoplayer in your mobile YouTube app

Posted by wicked January - 13 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

So someone found how to force the YouTube app to use Exoplayer, and provided a guide for doing it. Hooray! But what is Exoplayer? And why would I want it force enabled on my YouTube app? Answers here.

Exoplayer is an experimental video player hidden inside Google’s YouTube app, and it basically loads videos much, much faster. Problem is, it is usually not made easily available to the average user like you and me. And so people found a way around that (they always do).

exoplayer

Before we give you the link, please remember a couple of things though. First, that this requires a rooted phone. So if you have not rooted your phone yet, this is not for you. If you want to get this feature, you will have to gain root access to your phone, and that means tweaking it a bit. Also, the Exoplayer is an experimental feature of the YouTube app, and so it will not have all the features of the main player. That said, it does load quite faster than the normal, and for that, you might want to try it out.

So on to the guide then. Please hit this link here to get to the guide on how to enable this feature. Remember, if you are unsure of the process, make a backup just in case everything hits the crapper. Enjoy!

VIA: Reddit

SnoopSnitch for Android detects possible smartphone data theft

Posted by wicked January - 13 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

Security Research Labs (SRLabs) is a German outfit that has released an interesting security app called SnoopSnitch – the app basically alerts users if someone is trying to spy on their mobile phone. The app can detect if someone is using International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) catchers – along with other Android vulnerabilities – to spy on a device.

SnoopSnitch collects and analyzes mobile radio data to make you aware of your mobile network security and to warn you about threats like fake base stations (IMSI catchers), user tracking, and SS7 attacks,’ the official Google Play listing reads.

For the uninitiated, IMSI catchers are more commonly known as ‘stingrays’ and are heavily used by hackers – or even by government security agencies – to listen in on private calls, read text messages, and locating users via signal tower. It can also be used to do SS7 (Signaling System 7) attacks on your phone.

snoopsnitch-android-app-that-detects-smartphone-espionage-now-available-free-google-play-store

The app requires a number of things – first on that list is a rooted phone, a Qualcomm chipset that is running on stock Android version 4.1 or higher. The description of the app also says that the detection capabilities of the app improves by using crowd-sourced data contributed from other users of the app. Will you give this a try?

DOWNLOAD: Google Play Store

5 Things Android Enthusiasts Care About Today

Posted by wicked January - 9 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

Last week I had the chance to hang out with Kellen and Tim while I was visiting family in Portland. One of the things that we talked about was what it was like to be an Android enthusiast back in 2009 and on. Back then, Android was about rooting, installing custom ROMs and kernels, customizing your device, and pushing the limits of the hardware.

It was also about not using an iPhone; at the time the iPhone was considered the state of the art device, and it would arguably continue to be a superior overall package for several years. While the iPhone had more apps and a more established ecosystem, the Motorola Droid boasted both a physical and software keyboard, real multitasking (it’s hard to remember now, but the iPhone didn’t get real multitasking until iOS 4), a higher resolution camera with a flash, customizable home screens with widgets, expandable storage, and a user-replaceable battery. It was the antithesis of the iPhone in so many ways, and those of us that used it were proud to say we didn’t use iPhones.

As I was reflecting on this, I began to wonder what it means to be an Android enthusiast today. How much has changed and how much has stayed the same? Read on for my top five things Android enthusiasts care about in 2015.


android 5.0 lollipop

Software Updates

If you are an Android enthusiast in 2015, you definitely still care about software updates. Google maintains a relatively aggressive update schedule for Android, but almost every release has goodies that every Android enthusiast wants to try out. Sure, most new applications today have support for Android 4.0+, so you probably don’t need Android 5.0, but since when has the wall that separates need and want been a barrier to you?

This means Android enthusiasts tend to still favor Nexus devices over others unless an OEM offers something that a certain user wants more than updates (I know, I’m having a hard time thinking of what that would be, too).

one m8 gpe lollipop


Customization

Customization used to be about what app icons you keep on your home screen. Remember when the dock wasn’t customizable without a third party launcher like Launcher Pro? How about whatever widgets you wanted to use? It also used to be about installing custom ROMs with specific themes.

Today, widgets are still very much a part of customization (I still find people who haven’t heard of UCCW) and some users still use ROMs, but I think most diehard Android users focus more on aesthetics than anything. I love that I can set up Nova with custom gestures and use SwiftKey with a Material theme, even though the 2013 Moto X is still on Kit Kat. Things like new wallpapers, gorgeous custom icon packs (Audax is still my favorite), custom home screen gestures, and custom hardware with devices like the Moto X are central to what Android enthusiasts care about today.

Nova Launcher


Google Apps and Services

While non-Google Android apps and services are important in China and other markets, most people want to use Android with Google services. It’s not just that the Play Store has most of the apps users want, either. If you are an Android enthusiast, then you are excited by products like Hangouts, YouTube, Gmail, Calendar, Drive, etc. These are not just products that you like to use, either; you want everyone to use them because they are clearly better than most of the alternatives out there, especially on Android.

Wanting to have the latest and greatest versions of these products keeps you on Android and thankful for updates via Google Play services.

google apps-1


SD Cards and Fast Charging or Replaceable Batteries

At this point in my list, I know we will have plenty of people on either side, but I think a lot of us still care about expandable storage and big, if not replaceable batteries. While I tend to feel neutral about the issue since I’ve been using iOS for the past four years, I have to admit that I like the idea of being able to throw an SD card plus an extra battery in my pocket when I know I might need it, just in case I will be taking a lot of pictures or I will be away from an outlet for a while. With replaceable batteries seemingly becoming more rare these days, I think Android enthusiasts are also excited about turbo charging. Being able to plug your phone in for a short period of time to gain several more hours of usage is an incredibly useful feature that Apple will surely “invent” in the coming years.

samsung galaxy s4 battery


Android Wear

Again, this point might be contentious, but I think it has merit. The only people who are using Android Wear right now are Android enthusiasts. Smart watches might eventually become more regular (with or without Apple’s help), but without the right story surrounding the product, smart watches will continue to be for enthusiasts only. Android enthusiasts might be on the fence about whether or not Wear is a viable product (like me), but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to see it succeed. Others love it for what it is and more importantly, what it could be. Wear is still very young and needs more work, but like the Motorola Droid, it does more than the competition and it has the potential to change the way we live.

Those are my top five things that I think Android enthusiasts care about in 2015. I’d love to see what other things you think define the Droid Life in the comments below.

moto 360 review-11

5 Things Android Enthusiasts Care About Today is a post from: Droid Life

Official CyanogenMod 12 Nightlies are rolling out now

Posted by wicked January - 6 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

cyanogenmod nexus 5 boot screen aa 1

It was only just yesterday that we told you about how Superuser controls were to be lumped into the Privacy Guard on CyanogenMod 12, little did we know that the popular custom ROM would start rolling out to users just a day later.

CyanogenMod 12 is based on Android 5.0.1 Lollipop, which is Google’s latest build of the Android OS. If you are unfamiliar with the title, Nightlies refer to a ‘beta’ stream of the custom ROM, which will include some bugs and omit a few features and hardware support.

Cyanogen Inc. say they are about 85% done the official stable release of CyanogenMod 12 M. For now, CM12 Nightlies are available for about 30 devices, including the Nexus 4, 6, 7 (2013 WiFi), OnePlus One, LG G3 and the HTC One (M7) and (M8). More devices will come online in the coming days.

CyanogenMod Void Warranty

For those familiar with CyanogenMod 11, you’ll find a few missing pieces in the CM12 Nightlies, including the theme engine, quick settings customization and ribbon mode, navigation bar customization, sound panel tweaks and the lock screen quick unlock. Specific devices may also find hardware like IR blasters to be inoperative. Such is the life of beta software.

Most important to this announcement is that Cyanogen is officially pushing CM11 to weekly builds, in an effort to focus on CM12. CM11 is on version M12 now, with M13 still slated for release, but that will be the end of the road for CM11.

For all the details, including supported devices, installation instructions and more, head on over to the CyanogenMod “L is for Lollipop” page.

Are you willing to try out CM12 Nightlies, or will you be waiting for the official release?

CM12 won’t use SuperSU, functions relegated to Privacy Guard

Posted by wicked January - 5 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off

If you are the type of Android user who usually roots their phones, you will know the drill. After root access is gained, you need an app like Chainfire’s SuperSU to manage root access for different apps. But when CyanogenMod 12 – or simply CM12 for you fans out there – arrives, there won’t be any need for SuperSU.

Controlling superuser permissions has always been one of the strengths of the CM ROMs, but we’ve learned that CM12 will bring those functions the Privacy Guard settings app. All this does is make the decisions on which apps should be allowed to have root access that much easier.

Evidence of this move is found in one of the commits for the CM12 build. Those on CM12 nightlies should see this feature pretty soon. But if you want the stable and official CM12 version, that hasn’t been launched yet, and there has been little news as to when it will be launched. So if you’re waiting, you will need to hold on to SuperSU for a bit longer.

superSU_gplay

Gaining root access usually voids your warranty, so we ask you to think about what you’re doing if you have no experience in doing the process yet. There are advantages and disadvantages to gaining root, so be sure to read up first before you take the plunge.

VIA: Reddit

Superuser settings to be handled in CyanogenMod 12 through Privacy Guard

Posted by wicked January - 5 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off

oppo n1 cyanogenmod install (8)

CyanogenMod 12 is promising to bring a lot of cool new features to your device, we learned today that it even plans to handle Superuser permissions through its Privacy Guard settings.

Root users know the drill, after gaining access to the full permissions of your Android device, you must install an app like SuperSU to keep things in check. Things are a little bit different when you get your hands on one of the few phones that ship with a custom ROM, but for some that will be no more once Cyanogen Inc. ships the latest version of their custom ROM, CyanogenMod 12, to users.

While controlling superuser permissions has been available to CM users already, CM12 will bring that control to the Privacy Guard settings. This makes it as easy as ever to decide which apps should be allowed to take full control of your device, and which should remain sandboxed in the normal Android permissions structure.

cyanogen brand identity

Privacy Guard is already an option that helps handle permissions for the installed apps on your Android device. Privacy Guard allows users to disable individual permissions, locking down problematic or over-powered apps to a controlled set of functionality. This is done on an app-by-app-by-permission basis and produces results that can be extremely useful or that completely break an app.

Privacy Guard alone is currently only able to disable permissions, but the added superuser control will allow Privacy Guard to elevate permissions for apps as well, taking full advantage of the hard work you went through to root your device in the first place.

It looks like the code has been committed to the CM12 build, which means that nightly users should see the functionality soon and other CM based ROMs can start including the code as well. For official stable CyanogenMod users, Cyanogen Inc. has not yet provided a release date for CM12, so you’ll need to hang on to SuperSU for now.

Do you think it should be easier to gain root on your Android device? Should manufacturers or Android itself provide root tools?

After having a fantastic Christmas evening, I didn’t think I could possibly receive another awesome gift last week. What I found waiting for me at XDA Developers, however, was an Android Lollipop ROM for the international (N9005) Galaxy Note 3, just there for the taking. After installing it and playing with it for a few days now, I can say this: Galaxy Note 3 users are in for the biggest “gift” their device has ever received.

In this article I will talk about some of the changes, show some screenshots, and tell you how to install it on your device right now. Bear with me if this gets a little lengthy, as there is quite a lot to discuss.

Before I get started, full credit for this goes to a few people on XDA Developers who worked hard to get this out to the world literally on Christmas day. Friedrich420, developer of the well known “Echoe” ROM series is responsible for putting it together (thank you for your permission to write this). He is a recognized developer on XDA and does fantastic work.  KenTcN is responsible for actually posting an Odin flashable Lollipop image for the Note 3 (please don’t ask me how he got his hands on it, as I don’t know), and lastly to chingchiu169 for his work on actually initially getting the ROM to boot. If you install this ROM, be sure to hit the thanks button for these guys, as they all deserve it for such great work.

Is it real?

A Lollipop leak recently surfaced for the Exynos version of the Note 3 (N900), and for days the authenticity of the leak was in question. If you are wondering the same about this ROM (N9005), I can confirm that it is indeed real. This isn’t a port or theme (or some simple build prop edit) built on some previous version of Android. This is an authentic yet UNOFFICIAL version of the base software that will be rolling out to the Note 3 (3rd party developer tweaks are included)

As it’s not official, there is no way to confirm how “final” this version will be when Samsung rolls it out. That being said, let’s get into some of the changes.

“Lolliwiz”: Do TouchWiz and Lollipop/Material play well together?

When it comes to how TouchWiz looks, this is the biggest update the Note 3 has ever received. Whether you like TouchWiz or Material Design will naturally come down to personal preference, but I noticed aesthetic changes everywhere when the device booted (and I don’t just mean subtle ones). Menus, pre-built Samsung apps, launcher, dialer, notification bar, toggles, gallery, S Finder, S Pen options (more detail on that later), contacts… you name it. Everything looks (in my opinion) significantly different than the TouchWiz that Samsung users are accustomed to:

MultiWindow settings 2

Contacts dialer

The launcher received minimal changes, with the notification bar now very similar to what we see on Nexus devices:

Notification launcher

These are just a very few of the many screenshots I grabbed to give you an idea of how much Lollipop has changed TouchWiz aesthetically. I barely recognize my phone, and am personally very very pleased with most of the work Samsung has done here.

Note 4 S Pen features included?

If you have read up on the Note 4, you probably already know that Samsung added some very nice S Pen features that Note 3 users (myself included) were worried they would never see. Did Samsung provide all of them with Lollipop? No. Did they provide some of them? In all honestly, I am pleased to say that Samsung did indeed bring over a large amount of Note 4 S Pen features to the Note 3 via Lollipop, and I am personally still very surprised that they opted to do this.

Smart Select is there, which lets you choose text or multiple files with the S Pen, and the new multi-window feature is just… well… fantastic. Remember that feature on the Note 4 where you can drag from the top corner of an app in multi-window to resize it? It’s here, and it works oh so well.

MultiWindow settings 2

When activating Air Command, the options you’ll find are Action Memo, Smart Select, Image Clip, Screen Write, and Pen Window. The option of holding down the pen with the button pressed on the screen to get a screenshot is now gone (sadly), and as mentioned before, not all of the Note 4 S Pen features are there. But what is here works very well, and I’m sure I’ll be using my S Pen more than ever.

But enough about looks…

How does it perform?

This might be the biggest deal about this update. From my experience, I have always found the Touchwiz launcher a bit on the laggy side, and TouchWiz in general can easily become a memory hog. I attribute this to much of the bloatware that Samsung pre-installs (Lollipop also comes with a huge amount of bloat, which I will be manually removing later) and some less than stellar software optimization. I always overcame this by installing Nova Launcher Pro, as it easily whisks through the 700+ apps I have installed on my phone. But this time I’m cursing the Samsung TouchWiz launcher for an entirely different reason:

For the first time since owning this device, I won’t be installing Nova Launcher.

The Lollipop TouchWiz launcher has provided me with the smoothest, most lag free experience I have had since owning this device. Period. The Lollipop animations add so much life to Touchwiz, and after a few days of playing with this device, I have yet to run into one single solitary hangup or significant amount of lag (I experienced one tiny millisecond of lag when I had a bunch of apps opened in multi-window, but I’m reaching even bringing it up). Despite having a dozen apps running in the background, the transitions and overall fluidity of this update is so smooth that in many ways it feels like I have a brand new device that is way faster now than the day I purchased it. Whether it stays this way or not is yet to be seen over the next few days.

Now be warned…Friedrich420, the developer of this ROM, has made launcher and overall optimizations, which could be the sole reason this particular Lollipop build is so unbelievably smooth. Echoe ROMs have always had a reputation for being smooth, and I don’t want to take away from his work. That being said, I have used Echoe KitKat ROMS before, and as blazing fast as they are, the fluidity of an Echoe Kit Kat ROM compared to this Lollipop build (again, in my opinion) is barely comparable. Google, Samsung, and the developer simply did a great job of (finally) getting the lag out of TouchWiz. I will report back if performance changes over the next days.

Benchmarks

As far as benchmarks go (I personally think very little of them), this build of Lollipop was not only impressive, but pushed past the Galaxy S5 and the HTC One (M8), and is slightly below the OnePlus One (with a stock kernel as far as I can tell). Quadrant didn’t have many new devices to compare to when I ran the benchmark, but I’ll include it here to provide a comparison:

benchmarks

What doesn’t work well/was left out?

There are naturally some personal issues that I don’t like about the update. The blue/green/orange theme works fine for the most part throughout the ROM, but for certain apps (this could simply be something that app developers need to address) I found the white/blue/green/black/orange color combinations a bit on the chaotic side. Samsung chose not to port the Ultra power savings mode from the S5 and Note 4, which I found to be a real shame, as it works well. It was previously usable on the Note 3 via Xposed installer (and it worked fine), but as Lollipop is not compatible with Xposed and it’s not clear when it will be, we will be at the mercy of the modding community to see if it gets ported over.

Silent mode is now a thing of the past, and has been replaced with “Interruptions” (Priority mode). While I’m not calling this a negative, it will take some getting used to. Sure you have more control, but a simple silent feature is great to have when you simply want to mute everything. I ended up installing a 3rd party widget to get silent mode back, which is working fine.

Sadly, there is still a delay when opening the gallery app (this seems to plague Samsung devices).

Also, not being able to use Xposed in itself is a big negative, as I used many Xposed modules (this is neither Samsung’s nor Google’s fault). Be sure to think about that before installing.

Enough already… how do I install it?

If you’ve seen/read enough and simply want to get on with installing Lollipop on your Note 3, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s a very easy install. But a few things to remember:

  1. This is for the N9005 only. That’s the international Snapdragon version of the device. For Exynos devices, check here.
  2. You will need to root your device, meaning your warranty is in essence void. If you root your device (which I personally highly recommend), you do so at your own risk. Samsung has the right to deny providing customer service to rooted devices, but doesn’t mean they definitely won’t provide it.
  3. Your Knox counter will be effected.
  4. This is NOT the official version of the update, but a leak.
  5. You will need a custom recovery.
  6. Titanium Backups from KitKat to Lollipop are working for me so far, but that’s not to say you may not run into restore issues at some point due to the base change.

If you need to root your device, you simply need to use a very easy to operate program called Odin. A step by step guide can be found on this link. The process literally takes 5 minutes.

If you are rooted and ready to go, head to Friedrich420‘s thread on XDA here to grab the flashable zip of the ROM, or here if you want a flashable Odin image. To install the flashable zip file (which I recommend, as I haven’t used the Odin image), you just need to:

  1. MAKE A NANDROID BACKUP!!!
  2. Boot into recovery
  3. Make sure the ROM is on your device
  4. Perform a factory reset (make sure to backup any apps and data)
  5. Wipe cache
  6. Wipe Dalvik
  7. Flash the ROM
  8. Give it up to 20 minutes to boot up.
  9. Profit

This won’t completely wipe internal memory, but I recommend putting the ROM on your external SD, and having a backup of personal files just in case. Be sure to take a few minutes to read through the threads, as many questions about the ROM are already answered there.

Screenshot gallery

Final thoughts

Lollipop is a huge update from Google, and for the Note 3, the combination of Lollipop, Material Design, and new S Pen features makes it a massive one. It’s extremely fast and smooth, it’s prettier (if you like Material Design), and it gives you a sense of having a new device due to the many aesthetic and functionality changes. Samsung has officially confirmed that the Note 3 will receive Lollipop soon, meaning that if you would rather not root, you can always wait for the official update to roll around. Regardless of if you choose to install it now or later, I think you will be very pleased with your Note 3 after receiving Lollipop. I didn’t get to dive into the camera, battery life (which seems very good so far) or other new features, but I will update this article as I find out more.

All the best to all of you in 2015!

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