If you ask Motorola, Mods are the story with Moto Z. If you ask most smartphone enthusiasts? The Mods are decidedly not the story - they're just accessories. Well, which is it? Are Motorola's modular pieces central to the authoritative and complete Z experience, or are they forgettable add-ons? I've had a few days to play with them, and while I am not "reviewing" any of them here, I am going to share some thoughts on them.
First, we have the not-really-Mods: the style shells.
Moto sent out two woodgrain shells and one that I would describe as a black nylon fabric weave.
So you're one of the Android faithful, but you're also slightly interested in Apple's hardware? What can you do about that? One Nick Lee from development and design studio Tendigi came up with a solution that is both novel and terrible. It's an iPhone case that runs Android. Yes, really.
Some of you probably have the Nexus 6P now, or are expecting it to show up soon. Unless you ordered a 128GB, that is. Sorry. For everyone else, there's now an official build of TWRP for the 6P. However, like the 5X, there's no support for data decryption yet.
Android 5.0 brought major changes to the platform, and that made it hard to get the Xposed system tweaking framework functional. The project's developer has finally announced that Xposed for Lollipop is ready after months of betas and unofficial builds. That doesn't mean it's completely without risks, but nothing should be obviously broken.
The open-source nature of Android means that you can run the mobile operating system on just about anything if you've got the know-how. Case in point: A YouTube user named Josh Max has managed to get it running on his Texas Instruments TI-Nspire CX. If that name conjures up images of middle school algebra exams, it's because it's a graphing calculator. Check it out in action in the video below:
The Nspire CX is one of the more robust graphing calculators on the market. Its 320x240 3.5" color screen, 100MB of storage, and 64MB of RAM are pretty paltry when compared to even the earliest Android phones (the original HTC G1 had 256MB of storage and 192MB of RAM).
Xposed is a fantastic tool for modders whose phones aren't as popular as mainstream models and don't get as much ROM support, or if they simply want a few Android tweaks without flashing completely custom firmware. Unfortunately, both the Xposed Framework and the module you're using need to be updated with each major release of Android for the functionality to reliably work. That's now true for GravityBox, a popular collection of tweaks and mods bundled into a single module, and Lollipop 5.1.
For those who like to mod their Android devices, the Xposed framework is a revelation. You don't need to flash a new ROM, but you get a ton of customization options and system UI tweaks with relatively limited risk. After months of waiting, Xposed may finally be coming to Lollipop.
The impending release of the Google Now Launcher (GNL) presents a bit of a dilemma. The cool Google Now integration isn't possible with third-party launchers, but GNL doesn't have many customization options. If you're rooted, there is at least one way to get around that – the new Xposed GEL Settings, which as you can tell from the name, requires the Xposed Framework.
The Xposed framework is a major boon to those of us who use an Android device that doesn't have a lot of support from the custom ROM community. It allows a lot of the things you want in custom ROMs - visual tweaks, interface changes, behavioral and button functions, fixes for annoying bugs, and a host of other things - via independent modules, with only root privileges. The latest beta release from developer "Rovo89" includes support for Android 4.4 and a bevy of performance improvements.
Xposed is definitely in the deep end of the Android modification pool, so there are a few things that aren't quite perfect in version 2.4B1.
It's not terribly hard to unlock and root a Nexus device, but mucking around with ADB simply isn't for everyone. If you want a somewhat more automated rooting experience for your 2013 Nexus 7, there's the Root Toolkit from Mskip. It's available now for all your modding needs.
Mskip is a senior moderator and recognized developer at XDA. He makes it his business to build simple root toolkits for a ton of devices. Now the new Nexus 7 is on that list. Version 1.02 of the toolkit is available for free on XDA and it allows you to unlock, root, backup, restore, push files, install/correct ADB drivers, and more.