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.
Google just announced all of the great new APIs developers would be able to play with from the Google Play services, and now we've got some apks to check out. As usual, there aren't a lot of user-facing features in the GMS package, so don't expect to see any huge changes immediately after installation. However, there are at least a couple of interesting bits and pieces that stand out in a side-by-side comparison.
The Grand S3 isn't a beefed up version of the Galaxy S III, an easy mistake to make just from skimming the name alone. No, it's the latest version of ZTE's flagship handset. This time around, the company is using more than competitive pricing to draw attention to its kind-of-premium device. Anyone who buys this phone in the future will apparently be able to unlock it using their eyes.
ZTE has partnered with EyeVerify to incorporate its Eyeprint ID solution with an upcoming version of the Grand S3, a phone that's already on sale in China.
Fastboot oem unlock is a command many Nexus owners know by heart. The command, which unlocks a Nexus device's bootloader, takes a special consideration in Android 5.0 Lollipop, though. The command will fail unless a certain box is checked in the device's "Developer Options" menu. This is a minor change, but one that isn't immediately obvious to the user.
On my Nexus 6 review unit, the option was already checked after I opened Developer Options, but it appears that may not always be the case, as one tipster indicated the option on the Nexus 9 had to be checked manually.
Much to the chagrin of cell carriers and hardware manufacturers, there are still many in the Android community that choose to delve into the world of hacking and modding their phones. Owners of the Verizon Moto G are certainly in this crowd, and they've been eagerly awaiting a reliable method for unlocking their bootloaders. It turns out that their wait ends today. Sunshine, a tool built by Justin Case, Beaups, and others to unlock HTC and Motorola phones, just gained support for the Moto G on Verizon.
Lockitron is a crowd-funded "smart" door lock that aims to let you control your home or office door lock with your smartphone. And now that Android Wear is available, some developers won't rest until every facet of their phone is tied into their watch. Thus, Wear-a-tron, which allows users to activate the unlocking function of the official Lockitron app via a Wear extension. It's available for free on the Play Store.
A lot of smartphone apps are just mobile translations of a standard computer program or website - useful, but they don't really take advantage of the strengths of mobile platforms beyond the interface. Here's an app that "gets" the way people use their phones, and tricks you into expanding your vocabulary. In a good way.
GRE Vocab Lock will give your phone a secondary unlock screen, which consists of a vocabulary word and two possible synonyms.
Unlocking our phones is quite the hassle. Sticking a PIN or password on the lock screen is your most reliable option, but inputting that information every time admittedly gets old. There's face unlock, but that's too easy to circumvent. As for fingerprint scanning? The required hardware isn't exactly widespread. So now Descartes Biometrics is offering users the ability to unlock their smartphones... using their ears.
Once installed, ERGO serves as your phone's lockscreen.
It was only yesterday that Cyanogen definitively confirmed AT&T's treacherous move to lock down the Galaxy S4's bootloader, but there is light at the end of that tunnel. No thanks to AT&T but to security researcher extraordinaire and a person I admire Dan Rosenberg, a.k.a. the magician, a.k.a. the root whisperer.
Dan, who is responsible for numerous root and unlock exploits, tweeted this photo of his Galaxy S4 earlier today:
There are no instructions or blog posts explaining the unlock at Dan's blog yet - these should be coming in the future.