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.
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.
If you've got a Galaxy Note 10.1 handy and a hankering for root-enabled fun, noted modder mskip has just posted an initial version of his extensive Toolkit for the Samsung tablet to the XDA developers forum. We've seen these before for all kinds of hardware, most recently the Galaxy Note 8.0, and they're great as a one-stop shop for advanced user operations. The toolkit requires a Windows PC, but beyond that it's got everything you should need to start rooting and modding the Note 10.1.
A new CyanogenMod feature is currently under review, and it looks staggeringly cool. Developed by Nebojsa Cvetkovic, this addition would place a new camera tile in the Quick Settings panel. Tap it, and you get a live viewfinder capable of taking snapshots right from the notification shade.
Readers of a certain age will remember the way LCD screens looked back in the early 90s. We'd never heard of color LCDs – that would have been witchcraft plain and simple. LCDs were dingy little grayscale things that you saw on clocks and mediocre handheld games. Still, there's nothing like some nostalgia in this age of pocket-sized supercomputers, right? MyColorScreen user z3u5 posted a classic LCD theme for custom Android launchers recently, and it's a seriously cool effect.
Stop holding your Nexus 7 in your hands like a chump and check this out. These industrious modders have built and installed complete Nexus 7 mounting systems in a Subaru STi and Toyota Celica. The Toyota owner even created a launcher skin to go with the mod. The skin, of course, is based on Knight Rider (seen below).
The modder with the Toyota used Nova Launcher, UCCW, and Simple Text to build a simple Knight Rider UI that gives access to the most commonly used functions.
If you're going to be messing around with custom ROMs at all, it's a good idea to have a nandroid backup at the ready. A recent backup can save you a lot of time and heartache if things end up going sideways. However, backing up your system used to mean rebooting into recovery and waiting for 5-10 minutes while everything progressed. That's not the end of the world, but every barrier to backing up makes people less likely to do it.