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By the power of root! File managers square off

Posted by wicked July - 21 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

We’ve said it before. For better or worse, one of the things that separates Android from iOS is the fact that we can browse our devices like we do our computers, at least to a certain extent. File managers give users power, but not all yield those powers equally, especially when it comes to superuser powers, otherwise known as “root”. Let’s take a peek at the current choices of file managers and see how they fare when pitted against one another.

Root Explorer ($3.99)

Let’s immediately start with the heavyweight of the batch. Root Explorer‘s name immediately tells you it means serious business. And at that price tag, it better be. Like what its name says, it lets users experience what it is to cruise their Android device as the all-powerful root user. Billed as *the* file manager for root users, Root Explorer comes with loads of features that even the non-root faithful will most likely appreciate, like creating or extracting ZIP files and other compressed archives, a viewer for SQLite databases (since Android uses the database format almost everywhere), and even access storage on popular cloud service like Dropbox and Google Drive.

But perhaps we should ask the obvious question: why root and why for a file manager? Root access itself will allow programs, like Xposed framework modules, for example. to modify the system in ways Android would not normally allow. In a file manager, it gives users almost unfettered access to every file and folder, which may sometimes be a bad idea. But for an example of how useful root file access can be, one can try to modify init scripts, programs that get run every time the phone is booted up, so that they can’t be run at all. In geek talk, that means setting the init script’s file permission to 600, readable, but can’t be run. Use it on certain OEM or carrier services and say goodbye to bloatware. At least until an update overwrites your changes.

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ES File Explorer (Free)

We’ve already shared some tips and tricks on using ES File Explorer, so you might be already familiar with what this talented file manager can do. To sum it up, ES File Explorer gives all levels of users something to chew on. Beginners can take advantage of all the features, including cloud access and app backup, from the get go and power users can flick a simple switch to enable root access. Provided, of course, that your device is already rooted in the first place.

Perhaps the only wart on ES File Explorer’s face is that its extra features are truly extra, functionality that you’ll find in other external apps that you need to install first. The good news is that, like ES File Explorer itself, all of them are available free of charge. OK, there might be another wart, though small: ES File Explorer isn’t the prettiest file manager around.

ASTRO File Manager (Free/$3.99)

OK, it might be cheating a bit, but we’re not trying to pick on good old ASTRO. Of this selection, ASTRO doesn’t actually offer root access to files and folders. However, this app still bears mentioning because of its almost venerable history. ASTRO File Manager has been one of earliest file managers on Android and it is definitely a welcome sight to see it still alive and kicking. Except for the lack of root powers, ASTRO gets the job done and does it well, with swipe gestures, cloud access, and more. One quite special power that ASTRO does have is in the depth and breadth of its search, allowing users to search across all locations, whether on the device, network, or on the cloud, and even make very specific filters based on name, size, location, type, etc.

If the free/paid notation above is any indication, ASTRO File Manager’s free version comes with a non-monetary price. The free app isn’t crippled in functionality, but it does come riddled with ads, which you have to pay to get rid of. There is also something to be said about ASTRO’s “unique” visual style. Although it isn’t as plain as ES Explorer or as serious as Root Explorer, it appears to be a mishmash of different artistic styles that give it a rather disjointed appearance.

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Tomi File Manager (Free)

Tomi is a relative new comer to the file manager scene, but it is quite interesting for one, single reason: presentation. Although it does have a switch to enable root access, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the more powerful file managers. In exchange, it lets users peruse their files in a more visually oriented way. The home screen of Tomi presents users with a pie chart of storage space usage and a categorization of the different file types like Music, Pictures, Documents, etc. A filing system near and dear to Google’s own heart. But more than that, drilling into the Pictures and Videos sections shows all those media files in preview mode. This lets you really explore your photos and videos without having to open a separate gallery or multimedia app.

Of course, Tomi still lets users walk through the file system the traditional way, via folders and files. In that regard, Tomi offers the most basic of functionality that should let users wade through without drowning in a sea of options.

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Wrap-up

We’ve seen very powerful file managers on Android that opens up the world to users with power, but one question remains unasked: Do we need file managers at all? Let’s set aside for a moment the security and stability considerations of giving unknowing and unsuspecting users almost unbridled access to Android’s innermost workings via root. iPhone and iPad users have certainly lived for years without it. And if Android on Nexus devices is any sign, Google believes users won’t need to either. At least not in the way file managers usually do. Google is more interested in presenting files grouped according to media type rather than the plain files and folders tree structure of conventional systems.

Do you find file managers essential for an Android experience, even for regular users? Do you think root access, whether in apps or in file managers, is worth the risk of messing up things you’re not supposed to? Do you have any favorite file manager, especially one that grants root powers, that you’d like to bring to the community’s attention? Let us know in the comments below!

This Xposed module adds blur effects to your expanded notifications

Posted by wicked July - 21 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

Xposed Blur 2

The Xposed Framework has been a must-have set of tweaks for those who want to make the most out of their Android devices. For some, running Xposed tweaks on otherwise stock (but rooted) ROMs has become a good alternative to installing custom ROMs like Cyanogenmod, AOKP, Paranoid Android, Carbon and others, simply because many of the customizations that come with these can be done through Xposed.

Many of the tweaks involve the user interface, which enhance usability and accessibility, while some are more of style and preference tweaks. One of these is the Blurred System Module UI, a new tweak that gives users the ability to customize how the background is blurred after pulling down the expanded notifications from the status bar.

Xposed Blur

The tweak works in both portrait and landscape modes, and offers fully-configurable Gaussian Blur settings, including scale, radius and color filters, as well as real-time blur. The Xposed tweak works on both custom ROMs and rooted stock ROMs, although your mileage may vary, depending on device (some users have reported errors). The only limitation at this point is that the tweak does not work on tablets. Also, note that Xposed still does not work with ART, Android’s pre-compiled runtime, which is likely to be the default runtime in upcoming Android versions.

To install the tweak, you must have the Xposed framework installed and running. You can either search for the “Serajr Blurred System UI” module within the Xposed installer or download the APK (XDA Developer link is included below). You’ll need to activate the module and reboot your device before using Blurred System UI. When making changes, the module will let you restart SystemUI to commit the changes and for the tweak to take effect.

How to Root the LG G3 – XDA Developer TV

Posted by wicked July - 19 - 2014 - Saturday Comments Off

lgg3root

In this episode, XDA Developer TV Producer Jordan shows you how to root your LG G3. Jordan recently reviewed the LG G3, and it has been released on the major carriers in the use. So as usual here at XDA, we must root all the things, and the LG G3 is no exception!

Jordan presents step-by-step instructions on how to gain root access on your LG G3 using tools from the XDA Developers Forums. The process is painless and straight forward. In fact, you could even use TowelRoot as of the time of this writing, so now you have options. So if you wanted to root your LG G3, take a moment and check this video out.

Resource Links:

Be sure to check out other great XDA Developer TV Videos.

Check out Jordan’s YouTube Channel and Jordan’s Gaming YouTube Channel

[Thanks to GSMNation for providing us with the LG G3 featured in this article. To get this device from GSMNation or check out their other selections of phones, please go to GSMNation.com.]

The post How to Root the LG G3 – XDA Developer TV appeared first on xda-developers.

Paranoid Android launches 4.5 Alpha 1 with L-style recent apps interface

Posted by wicked July - 15 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

The team behind the popular custom ROM Paranoid Android revealed the first build that incorporates a recent apps interface similar to Android L.

The new interface is currently available in PA 4.5 Alpha 1, a preview build meant to showcase design changes that are currently in the works. Announced last week, the new recent apps interface is obviously inspired by the card-based recent apps that Google is previewing in L release. As you can see from the video, the two implementations are quite similar, down to the swipe to dismiss behavior and the animations.

As a preview build, there may be issues and inconsistencies, both in terms of functionality and in appearance. As such, the 4.5 Alpha 1 build is not recommended for users that are looking for a stable, consistent experience on their phones.

For users who prefer the stable branch, the team has also released PA 4.43, which contains bug fixes and other small tweaks.

Here’s the official changelog (common to both 4.43 and 4.5 Alpha 1):

  • ParanoidOTA fixes and cleanup
  • Fix daydream duplicates
  • Theme Engine upstream patches
  • Quicksettings fixes
  • Pie will be activated in apps that use immersive mode if Pie is enabled via on the spot

PA 4.5 Alpha 1 builds and PA 4.43 builds are currently available for modern Nexus devices, while ROMs for other devices may become available on the legacy project page.

Sony’s X-Reality engine comes to lower-end Xperia devices

Posted by wicked July - 14 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

sony x-reality

Sony’s advantage is in the technology and optimizations behind their raw components. Their experience in other fields makes their devices very unique, as they tend to adopt other technologies in their mobile department. An example is their screen optimizations, which include Bravia’s Triluminous and X-Reality improvements.

These optimizations tend to be exclusive to Sony’s high-end smartphones, though. As of now, only devices like the Sony Xperia Z1, Z1s, Z1 Ultra and Z2 have the privilege of touting these optimizations. At the end of the day these features are mostly software optimizations. This means our handy developers can make porting them possible!

XDA forums member taichiswag has creaded a MOD to enable the X-Reality engine in other Sony devices. It will work on most Xperia smartphones with Android 4.3 or higher. It also works with both locked and unlocked bootloaders, but you do have to have a rooted device.

Video thumbnail for youtube video Sony Xperia Z Ultra gets important update, included X Reality - Android Authority

This is no easy task for most, as some of the steps may be a bit confusing. If you choose to go ahead and flash this mod, you should follow steps carefully and do your research. Remember tinkering your smartphone may harm your device or void your warranty. That is never good news.

Taichiswag’s forum post seems to have been removed, but it turns out the topic was already alive before and the mod files are updated in the older thread. You can go ahead and download the files straight from XDA Developers.

Those who don’t know what X-Reality does can check out our in depth explanation on the subject. In short: it analyzes images and tries to improve their detail, contrast, color and more. I have seen it in person and works like a charm!

Android L theme available for Xposed devices

Posted by wicked July - 8 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

If you’ve wanted to experience the new Material design in Android L that almost everyone is talking about, this new Android L theme package might be for you. The only catch to this almost easy to install theme is that you need to have the Xposed Framework installed, which means you need to have a rooted device.

This still beats flashing an unsupported and barely tested Android L ROM, especially if you already have a rooted smartphone. Xposed lets you install modules that gives you custom ROM features without actually flashing a custom ROM. Such is the case with the Android L theme module that lest you enjoy the upcoming Android’s look and still keep your favorite ROM or even stock OEM Android intact.

The Android L module contains options for Themed statusbars, Calculator, and Settings app. You can even get the Boot Animation for Android L, fonts and ringtones. XDA member Adhi1419, who made available this Xposed module, notes that those running on stock Motorola ROMs should use the No Font variant instead of the regular version, both of which can be downloaded from the source link below.

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This Android L module is purely for aesthetic purposes and doesn’t contain any Android L functionality. Of course, getting those aren’t difficult either, as there are already a good number of ported apps roaming around the Internet. If you have a Nexus 4 and feel a bit more daring, you can opt to flash the whole shebang using the unofficial Android L port for the smartphone. Or you could also wait and see if the speculation about official images for slightly older Nexus devices will come to pass.

SOURCE: XDA

Rovo89: Xposed will support Android L, be patient

Posted by wicked July - 7 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

xposed-framework Image source: Addictive Tips

Just a week ahead of Android L’s official announcement, we learned that Google would soon be ditching support for Dalvik in favor of ART. We previously wrote a post explaining how this move would affect apps, and more importantly what it might mean for the Xposed framework.

At the time, XPOSED creator Rovo89 had indicated that, while Xposed doesn’t support ART on KitKat, he would eventually bring support for the new runtime. At the same time, he made it known that we shouldn’t expect a new version of Xposed for ART the second the next major version of Android arrived and that we might never see support for ART on KitKat devices.

The overall message is that developing a version of Xposed for ART isn’t an easy feat and that we should simply be patient

The overall message was that developing a version of Xposed for ART isn’t an easy feat and that we should simply be patient. Of course, that’s sometimes easier said than done. If you are curious about the state of Xposed with the introduction of Android L, you’ll be happy to know that, in a brief interview of sorts with XDA, the developer has brought a few more details to light about his plans for supporting ART on Android going forward.

First, he states that it’s not about getting Xposed running on Android L Developer Preview or even the final release of Android L, it’s about making it work well. In his own words:

Getting it running is one thing, whether it’s good to publish it is another question. I’ve had a prototype of Xposed for the ART preview in December already. Barely tested, needed manual installation, probably failing here and there, but generally it did what it should. But already back then, I’ve seen that Google is still working actively on improving ART. They have made huge internal changes since then.

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Second, he says that making Xposed work with Android L isn’t the same as making it work with all versions of ART:

The ART preview in KitKat and the ART almost-final in the Android L preview are different pieces of software. Maintaining support for both of them means basically twice the work, especially for testing. That, and the fact that ART in KitKat was just an optional preview (with potential bugs that may be incorrectly blamed on Xposed), makes it less likely that I will publish Xposed for the KitKat variant of ART. That’s not a final decision, it depends on how ART development continues and how well I can support Android L.

The takeaway here is essentially the same as Rovo89 stated two weeks prior, Xposed will live on even in a world without Dalvik but he also isn’t going to dive in and throw together support for ART. It’s not about the short-term, but the endgame. You can rest assured Rovo89 is working on support, and when Xposed with ART support does arrive you can bet it will work as well, if not better, than it did with Dalvik. Additionally it will work with Android L and, hopefully, all similar Dalvik-free versions of Android going forward.

For those that will be on KitKat for a while, you shouldn’t necessarily throw in towel when it comes to holding out for Xposed support but just keep in mind that it isn’t a priority at this point. What do you think, is lack of support for XPOSED enough to keep you from upgrading to Android L when it arrives in final form later this year?

Team of Developers Release Android L ROM for the Nexus 4

Posted by wicked July - 7 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

When developers work as a team, nothing is impossible. Merely weeks after the Android L developer preview released, a sprightly collective over at XDA has managed to build a working ROM based on the preview for the aging Nexus 4.

Despite carrying a “beta” moniker, the updated ROM is miraculously free of the major issues that plagued its last release, the worst of which included non-functioning sensors and Bluetooth.

Root management apps work (so long as you use Koush’s Superuser), and minus instability inherent to Android L, the sailing seems smooth enough to use the build as a daily driver.

For installation instructions, refer to the XDA thread.

Note: If your home button quits working after install, do a full wipe before attempting to flash the ROM again.

Via: XDA

Team of Developers Release Android L ROM for the Nexus 4 is a post from: Droid Life

Android L and Xposed: Keep Calm and Wait for It

Posted by wicked July - 7 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

After CyanogenMod published its blog post about its plans for Android L support, Xposed Framework creator rovo89 is making a similar appeal to the Android community for a bit of objective analysis and a lot of patience. The summary of the situation is that Android L is still a fast-moving target that it isn’t practical to work on polishing Xposed for it. The developer would rather release a version that works well a bit later, rather than one that is too early but barely functions.

The biggest factor in this uncertainty of Xposed’s immediate release on Android L, even in a preview form, is ART, the new Android Runtime. While Google advertises ART to bring only goodness to end users, for developers, especially those like Chainfire and rovo that tinker with Android’s underlying subsystems, it is the proverbial pain in one’s extremities. Add to that “enhanced” security features and dual architecture (32 and 64-bit) support, and you have the recipe for a system developer’s nightmare.

ART in particular is also still changing a lot everyday. Ever since ART was introduced and even now with Android L already announced, the runtime is still seeing massive code changes and substantial modifications. If it isn’t hard enough to hit a moving target when you’re making a high-level Android app, it is even moreso when you’re developing one that modifies system features from under Android’s nose. Like Chainfire and CyanogenMod, rovo wants to focus his efforts only when ART has reached a more or less unmoving state. That’s not to say that he isn’t doing anything, of course. He does have some prototypes working, depending on how you define “working”, but nothing that is fit for any public release. Given the nature of Xposed, users will certainly appreciate a release that won’t brick their device instead of one that is hot off the Android L press.

rovo makes another note about the state of Xposed for Android 4.4 KitKat users who have switched to ART instead of Dalvik. Unfortunately for them, they will have to wait even longer. Apparently, ART in KitKat and ART in Android L are quite different beasts, so even if Xposed started working on the latter, it wouldn’t necessarily work on the former. For rovo, it makes more sense to work first on getting Xposed to work well on an Android release that only has ART before trying to work on one that can still switch to Dalvik as a fallback.

VIA: XDA

Do “memory boost” apps work the way we think they do?

Posted by wicked July - 4 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

With a new device, most of us will not think of installing a memory or RAM booster off the bat. In fact, online surveys say that most Android users install these kinds of apps through in-app advertisements and similar pushes. And most users install these apps on the generic suggestion that using them would “speed up” their Android devices. But do they really work?

RAM – or that element of your device termed by most users as “memory” – works on a simple quantity basis, which is to say that the more you have of it, the better it is for your phone. Applications that are installed on your phone use RAM as a resource to do the processes they are programmed to do – every app needs a bit of memory to run correctly. Apps share in the total memory available, and if a lot of apps are running, there will be a “queue” in trying to use the RAM as resource.

In this explanation, lesser number of apps running will mean fewer apps sharing the total RAM as a resource, which in turn will mean less queueing and ultimately a zippier device experience for the user. Coming from this simplistic explanation, XDA and PHandroid developers – in numerous discussions – agree that primarily, memory boost apps lessen the number of applications by “switching off” or killing apps that are running in the background, those apps that share in the RAM resource.

But the problem lies in this, that when memory boost apps are not programmed smartly and correctly, they tend to kill essential apps that result in the operating system just spending more precious RAM resource in turning these apps back on. So the battle really is – for the simple Android user – in figuring out which memory boots apps are smarter, in that they turn off or kill the correct apps (the non-essential ones) and ultimately give you better device experience.

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In our humble opinion, the best way to go about this is to learn more about the Android OS – yes, quite a bit more than the usual Android user – to know which apps to look for and kill. And then, the next move will be to dive into XDA to look at the numerous memory boost scripts, APKs, and even custom ROMs that have these apps embedded that will let you kill the specific apps that you need to kill.

The downside of this “learned” approach is that it has a steep learning curve, usually requiring users to know how to root their devices, install custom recovery, and flash scripts via custom recovery. The upside is, these resources will usually let you do what you need to do to set up memory boost settings. Sadly, most users will not have the time nor the desire to tinker their devices like this. Mostly, users will end up just installing the “easy-to-use” “one button/one tap” application, because the ease-of-use is what these app developers heavily leverage on. In this latter case, it is imperative on the user to do trial and error to pick out the memory boost app that gives them the best user experience.

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