It was a nice surprise when Samsung announced that its new flagship phones would be running Android 6.0, and that they were bringing back the much-requested expandable storage was icing on the cake. The news that the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge would not support adoptable storage, Android Marshmallow's ability to take an SD card and partition it as semi-permanent device storage, was met with less enthusiasm. But all is not lost, expandable storage fans: long-time modder and ROM developer Paul "MoDaCo" O'Brien has got this covered.
If you have an LG G Watch R, you're probably aware of the Wi-Fi drama following Android Wear 5.1.1's release for the watch. While Google had announced Wi-Fi support for the platform's update in general, it turned out that the G Watch R didn't have the certifications necessary to boast that function, although technically the hardware was very capable of it. LG then let us know that it's working on a patch to enable Wi-Fi (and presumably on getting all the right certifications) but that it wouldn't be released before July.
Not to let some paperwork get in the way of gadgetry, Vojtěch Boček managed to have Wi-Fi working on his LG G Watch R after flashing some files over from the Watch Urbane (which has the same hardware, but currently supports Wi-Fi). The details of the mod are available on XDA, but they aren't for the faint of heart.
If you're going to do any serious modding on your Android smartphone, your first step is going to be unlocking the bootloader. This is a simple procedure on Nexus devices and a few other handsets, but many of the top OEMs have added security measures to prevent regular users from mucking about with their stock software. For these devices, there's a tool called Sunshine by recognized developers Justin Case (jcase), beaups, and friends. Version 3.0 just came out, and it can unlock the bootloader and acquire S-Off with almost every modern Motorola and HTC smartphone on the market.
Last month we posted an article examining some very significant changes to the way SD cards could be accessed and how Google's partner OEMs had begun enforcing these restrictions with Android 4.4. There can be no doubt, a lot of people were displeased to see their expandable storage crippled. While some have vowed to never update to KitKat, and others have turned to custom ROMs that don't enforce the same rules, there are still many people that still want to have the best of both worlds. Thanks to SDFix by developer Tod Liebeck, it's possible to restore the SD card to its former glory on a rooted stock ROM in just a few seconds.
Dear Barnes & Noble: bless you, ladies and gentlemen, for making the Nook Color. Without it, the Android modding scene might be less vibrant than it is now. On that note, the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight (a Kindle-style e-ink reader, also running Android) has received another price drop. Now you can pick one up for a cool $99 - not bad for a device that launched at the already-low price of $139.
I've got a Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight (or NSTG, as the modders over on XDA tend to abbreviate it) and I can say that it's a pretty solid little reader on its own.
Have you ever refused to install an app because it wants too many permissions? Yeah, a lot of people have, and we don't blame them. A little too much trust can lead to stolen information, mysterious charges on your cellular bill, or worse. Thanks to developer M66B, we've got a simple way to lock down potentially misbehaving software. His new mod, XPrivacy, can block several types of activities and queries, despite the permissions granted at installation. It can even substitute GPS coordinates and your MAC address, with plans to add support for more types of data in the future. This is a lot like the upcoming Incognito Mode in CyanogenMod, but it can be used with almost any rooted ROM, including those from OEMs.
Cydia by developer Saurik has been around the block a few times, beginning in 2008 as a means of installing and modifying software on jailbroken iDevices. A diverse ecosystem has sprung up around the platform, expanding what iOS fans can do on their usually restricted devices. Saurik's Cydia Substrate, a platform for modifying devices without flashing new ROMs, has now made its way over to Android.
Cydia Substrate does not do anything interesting on its own, but developers can use the platform to distribute extensions that modify software without requiring access to source code. Rooted users are free to load these extensions to pimp out their phones without having to go through all the hassle of installing custom ROMs.
Multi-user support is one of the most interesting additions in Jelly Bean 4.2, but you can only get it if you're using a tablet. It makes sense - phones are rarely shared between more than one person, while tablets are naturally shareable. Even so, it would be nice if Google gave users the option. But thanks to modder extraordinaire Paul "Modaco" O'Brien, there's a relatively easy way to enable multi-user mode on smartphones. It's detailed on the Modaco blog, but all you need to get started is a phone running Android 4.2 and root permissions.
First, download and install the Xposed Framework, a Swiss army knife for modders and the basis of this modification. Next, download the Modaco Toolkit, a module for the Xposed app.
Over the past couple of weeks, there's been a bit of a kerfuffle surrounding HTC and its shut down of HTCRUU.com. The general consensus across the Android community has been quite understanding in some respects – after all, HTC has every right to protect its intellectual property. The problem was, however, that in the original takedown request, it also demanded that all hosted RUUs and Sense-based ROMs be indefinitely removed, as well. This, of course, didn't sit well with the dev community.
As a result, HTC took to its official blog, vowing its "continued support for the developer community." Since actions speak louder than words and HTC's lawyers were demanding that all RUUs and Sense-based ROMS be removed, there was a clear disconnect between what HTC was doing and what company spokespeople were saying.
It's pretty disheartening to get an awesome new phone only to realize the bootloader's locked down tight. That's means no custom recovery, no ROMs, no custom kernels, no... anything fun. Until, of course, some dedicated developers get ahold of the device in question and bend it to their will. That's exactly what Project FreeGee has done for both the Sprint and AT&T variants of the LG Optimus G.
The tool essentially unlocks the bootloader of both devices, allowing a custom recovery - and eventually, custom ROMs - to be flashed. Of course, it's still in its early stages of development, so a few quirks are to be expected - like invisible text on the bootloader menu (as seen in the above video).