Last year we told you about GravityBox, easily one of the most complete and far-reaching Xposed modules for rooted Nexus and AOSP ROMs. The creator is still expanding the module, and has quickly incorporated the Heads Up notifications recently featured in CyanogenMod nightly builds. Heads Up notifications pop up for easy viewing and action while in full screen mode. The feature is hidden deep in Android 4.4 code, and easily enabled here.
Google has chosen to keep the on-screen navigation bar simple ever since it was introduced back in Honeycomb. It's changed a little bit over the years, but Xtended NavBar lets you change the way it works without screwing up the UI. When you need you navigation buttons, they're in the usual spot, but you can swipe to access more functions.
AT&T and Verizon, with their insistence on locked bootloaders for Android devices, are the scourge of the Android customization scene. Unfortunately they're also the largest carriers in the United States, which leaves a lot of Android power users in a pickle. If you're on either carrier and rocking a branded Galaxy S5, today is your lucky day: someone's gone and made a near-universal and amazingly simple root method that should work for the S5 (and more) on both carriers.
The latest version of the Play Store hit the scene a little over a week ago and introduced a tweak to the way permissions are displayed at install time, and it left some people feeling a little...uncertain. Gone is the ugly wall of poorly spaced, semi-specific permissions. The replacement is a short set of simplified categories, each with crisp-looking icons and buttons that reveal a brief description when tapped. Google filtered through roughly 145 permissions and narrowed them down to a dozen groups, plus one bucket for anything that remains.
Ask anybody that spends time in the security circles and they'll tell you that every large software project is bound to have a few long-standing vulnerabilities in the code. Fortunately, there are usually a few people who are paid to close up those holes so you, the customer, don't find yourself the victim of nefarious evildoers someday. Like so many before it, the latest update to Android came with a boatload of changes, at least one of which fixes a potentially dangerous vulnerability that can be used for numerous attacks, including a way to acquire root.
This means you can remount /system as read-write, just as before, change build.prop, push APKs to /system/app, and do whatever you want without rebooting into recovery.
For now, you're safe. But probably not for long. And when the hammer drops, we'll have yet another reason to opt in for a custom ROM or kernel, because nobody can take our freedom, not even the mighty El Goog.
As useful as the Google Experience Launcher (GEL) is, it's not exactly what you'd call "customizable." But intrepid modder Alexander Schulz has been working on that, making the GEL bend to his will through the magic of root and the Xposed Framework tool. The latest update to Xposed GEL Settings adds some really cool features. The most impressive is probably the dynamic home button: the home button on the virtual nav bar will switch to the app tray icon on the default home screen if that's the function you've selected.
Over the years, Google has been shoring up security on Android in a bid to make the operating system more attractive to governments and businesses, and to reduce the threat of malware for regular users. Unfortunately, these changes often come at the expense of flexibility in our beloved platform. As we close in on the next major release of Android, due to be announced next month, SuperSU developer Chainfire has discovered a set of commits to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) that may seriously impact some of the functionality currently enjoyed by many root users.
Xposed has fast become the go-to modification tool for Android power users who are comfortable with root, but who won't (or can't) move to a completely custom ROM. The latest update to the non-Play Store app adds a few creature comforts in the form of user interface tweaks, plus the usual bug fixes under the hood.
The first thing you'll notice is a spiffy new logo for your launcher and shortcuts.