Phandroid » Developers Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Mon, 14 Apr 2014 21:17:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Project Ara’s newly released Module Developers Kit gives us new insight on the upcoming modular smartphone Wed, 09 Apr 2014 22:37:18 +0000 Motorla Project Ara modules

Project Ara is officially one step closer to becoming a reality. As highlighted on the official Project Ara site, Google is now making available the “Module Developers Kit” (MDK for short) for developers. Using the MDK, devs will finally have the tools they need to begin creating the tiny components that will make up the modular smartphone.

The MDK details specific guidelines for Project Ara, showing what the phone will look like and the various sized endoskeletons it will be available in: mini, medium, and large at a later date. While developers will be able to create the various modules that make up the phone, only Google is allowed to make the endoskeletons (for now).

Project Ara enoskeleton sizes

Speaking of the modules, Google lays out guidelines relating to their size (how far they can extend out from the phone) and even lists off specific modules like Wi-Fi, battery modules, different sized displays, speakers, QWERTY keyboards, and even a thermal imager like the Predator. When it comes to applications, project Ara will run on Android, meaning apps shouldn’t be any different than those we see today.

This MDK is only the first of a few the Project Ara team will release in the coming months. As far as when you can expect to get your hands on the first Ara smartphone, Google is targeting a Q1 2015 release and plans to have an online market place similar to Motomaker where prospective buyers can build their perfect smartphone. The future of mobile is bright, and Project Ara has the potential to change everything we know about mobile devices. What could possibly be next, an Ara tablet? Stay tuned!

Project Ara medium endo Project Ara ribs and connectors Project Ara pulse module

[Project Ara | via The Verge]

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Full S-OFF for HTC One M8 released (and how to turn your GSM variant into a GPe device) Mon, 07 Apr 2014 16:40:44 +0000 HTC-One-M8-BlinkFeed

Last week, it was root. This week, it’s full-on S-OFF, baby. A team named Firewater did the deed on opening up the HTC One M8, giving us a solid S-OFF method that will allow folks to tinker with the inner workings of the HTC One M8′s software.

Said tinkering has already resulted in someone posting a method for turning GSM HTC One M8s into Google Play Edition devices (meaning they swapped out the Sixth Sense-coated software for stock Android). Remember that this is NOT compatible with CDMA versions, so those on Sprint or Verizon will have to wait for other developments. Find the instructions for that in the thread linked above if you’re already up and running with root and S-OFF.

If you haven’t yet gotten S-OFF, you’ll be on track to get it by the time you’re finished reading this article. First of all, you’ll need the following prerequisites:

  • Working ADB (meaning you can perform this on Linux, Mac OS X or Windows)
  • A working internet connection on your device, whether that’s 3G, 4G or WiFi.
  • USB debugging (and likely a microUSB cable)
  • Device unlocked and rooted with HTCDEV or with a temporary root method
  • A supported device, natch. HTC One M8 and M7 are givens, with many other Qualcomm-based HTC devices from 2012 being compatible.

There are a couple of other things to note. For starters, those with the Verizon version of the HTC One M8 will specifically need to use WeakSauce by Jcase to root their device before performing the Firewater S-OFF. Those instructions were provided last week so hop to it if you haven’t already.

Once you’ve gotten all that squared away, you can find instructions and downloads for your specific method right here. Take care to read each step carefully, and make sure you know what you’re doing before you proceed.

[via XDAThanks to everyone who sent this in!]

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CyanogenMod reveals new branding that represents openness, security and customization Fri, 04 Apr 2014 15:56:44 +0000 cyanogenmod logo 1

Well, folks, it looks like CyanogenMod, Inc. is starting to shape up to look like a real legit company. The company has already made big deals with phone manufacturers and successfully raised a good deal of money to help in their endeavors, and now they are making some changes to the way they present themselves.

Introducing the new CyanogenMOd branding. The logo sits above — clean, cool, calm, collected, and cyan. Oh, yes, lots of cyan. But the logo isn’t just a pretty collection of lines and pleasing colors. CyanogenMod designed it to be a symbol.

cyanogenmod logo 2

We’ll start with the centerpiece, which is said to be the heart of the logo. It represents the user, and their ability to customize the experience to fit their needs. That is to say, the user is the most important aspect of everything CyanogenMod does, and there will always be a commitment to give you the flexibility to do what you want and need.

Tying into that flexiblity is openness, because nothing says customizable like being able to get your paws wet deep within the source code. CyanogenMod is always open source, so you can take a build, do what you’d like with it and build it for yourself. Of course, the company expects proper credit should you publicly distribute it for others to use, but they aren’t asking for much more than that.

Finally, the user should be able to do all of this with a platform that they can be sure is secure. No NSA backdoors, no snooping, no nothing — simply use it, and have peace of mind doing so. That’s the CyanogeMod way.

cyanogenmod logo 4

What’s going to happen with Cid, the former mascot and logo? Well, he’s not going anywhere — he’ll be a staple of the vast community that surrounds CyanogenMod, and he’ll be along for the ride to see everyone through all the highs (and maybe some lows) in this exciting ride.

We like it. Nay, we love it, and everything that it stands for. Branding seems so simple from the outside looking in, but it’s these core values CyanogenMod were built on, and we’re glad to see that the company hasn’t lost sight of that even in their proudest moments. Be sure to read their take over at the CyanogenMod blog.

cyanogenmod logo 3

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Intel unveils 64-bit kernel for Android 4.4 KitKat Thu, 03 Apr 2014 14:23:57 +0000 Intel has announced that they’ve completed early work on an Android 4.4 KitKat kernel for their chipsets that supports 64-bit computing architecture. What does that mean?


Well, 64-bit phones won’t suddenly be gushing out of the gate tomorrow or even by the end of the year, but Intel has effectively positioned themselves to be ready for a 64-bit era should Google ever get around to making that a reality at all of the other layers of Android.

With this release, the company ported, validated and tested the Android Open Source code on [Intel Architecture], taking on the work that developers typically would need to do on their own. This release will provide the ecosystem with 64-bit kernel support for development of next-generation devices.

With that, Intel has also publicly committed to bringing regular releases of Android code for their architecture to make it easier on OEMs and developers to make new generations of hardware with the latest versions of Android.

Intel isn’t the first manufacturer to begin doing work, as ARM was found to be adding 64-bit support to their architecture as early as November 2013. In fact, ARM is so far along that Qualcomm has already released a chipset based on the new specifications, with the Snapdragon 410 being ready and available for use.


All of this doesn’t mean much to the end user at this current point in time because Google still has to do the work of bringing 64-bit to the application frameworks and runtimes that make up the entirety of Android. Still, you’ll be glad all of this work is being done ahead of time instead of waiting for chipset vendors to catch up with Google.

Now it’s just up to Google to get the ball completely moving on a 64-bit Android (which could enable the use of more than 3GB of RAM, as well as other benefits at the lower level of computing). Let’s hope we hear something on that front at Google’s upcoming I/O developers’ conference.

[via Intel]

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Android versions for April: KitKat makes big jump to 5.3% of active Androids Wed, 02 Apr 2014 00:11:03 +0000 Android Platform Distribution April 2014

You knew they were coming and it’s time, once again, for Google to update the world on the current state of Android. Posted moments ago to the Android Developers page, these stats are provided so that Android’s many developers can see exactly which versions of Android devices are currently running (ones that have recently visited the Google Play Store), so that they can target with their apps accordingly.

To make things a little easier to view at a glance, we’ve gone ahead and compiled these numbers in comparison with the previous month’s down below.

Android versions March –> April

  • KitKat: 2.5% –> 5.3%
  • Jelly Bean: 62% –> 61.4%
  • Ice Cream Sandwich: 15.2% –> 14.3%
  • Gingerbread: 19% –> 17.8%

In a move that will no doubt make our own Rob Jackson happy (he mentioned last month how sad it was to see KitKat struggling to hit 3%), we’re now seeing KitKat make a huge leap for the month of April, accounting for 5.3% of active Android devices. Not bad considering we’re still seeing KitKat updates roll out for many devices. Factor in new flagships for 2014 closing in fast — all running Android 4.4+ — and we’ll likely see another huge jump for KitKat in the coming months.

It’s also interesting that while Android 4.2.x Jelly Bean is still on the rise, but 4.1.x and 4.3 all took a hit. This dropped Jelly Bean’s overall percentage down to 6.1.4% for April, and is more than likely due to firmware upgrades.



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How to root the Verizon HTC One M8 using WeakSauce by jcase Mon, 31 Mar 2014 12:15:57 +0000 htc one m8 hands-on 1

Verizon’s HTC One M8 may not have enjoyed a day one root, but it didn’t take long for one developer to do the deed. Prominent developer jcase has dropped the first root method for the device, giving users a way to get advanced access to their phones for things like backing your firmware up or overclocking. It’s called WeakSauce, and it’s available for use right now.

Unfortunately this method does not give us S-OFF, but it’s a good first start to what should hopefully blossom into a very popular phone in the development community. So how do you get going with it? Here are the super simple instructions straight from XDA:

The exploit used in WeakSauce will gain root, and will mount a new xbin containing busybox and su. It’s not sticky in the sense that it can stick without an app, but as long as you have WeakSauce installed your device will automatically re-root on each boot.

And that’s it. Want to uninstall? Simply uninstall WeakSauce, then uninstall SuperSu. Couldn’t be any more simple than that. Head over to XDA for troubleshooting support and download links, and be sure to donate a couple of bucks to jcase if you’ve got it — wouldn’t want to see a developer like that not be rewarded for his hard work, would we?

[Thanks, Otis!]

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Google bans erotic apps from the Play Store according to new developer policies Fri, 28 Mar 2014 23:08:26 +0000 sexy girl apps Google Play

Call it a crack down, or just a little spring cleaning, but in an effort to keep the Play Store safe for users of all ages, Google is giving Android developers a heads up about some new changes arriving in their Google Play Developer Program policies.

The changes (which Google sent to developers via email) may sound small, but should have a big impact on many of the apps you come across on Google Play. Google’s always had a strong stance against sexually explicit material in the Play Store (it’s strictly prohibited), but today Google is stretching their definition to include even “erotic” content. You know. Like all those “Sexy Babes Wallpaper” apps that are always topping the free charts. End of the world, right? Guess they’ll have to find a new home in the Amazon Appstore because Google ain’t having it.

Besides the banning of smut, Google is also introducing an entirely new policy they’re calling “App Promotion.” Here’s the new policy as found on the policies page:

App Promotion
Apps published on Google Play may not directly or indirectly engage in or benefit from the following behavior:

  • Promotion via deceptive ads on websites, apps or other properties, including simulated system, service, or app notifications or alerts.
  • Promotion or install tactics which cause redirection to Google Play or the download of the app without informed user action.
  • Unsolicited promotion via SMS services.

It is your responsibility to ensure that no ad network or affiliate uses such methods to direct users to pages that make your app available for download.

According to this new policy addition, if you’re a developer and your app shows up in a sketchy ad — no matter if it’s your fault or your ad network’s — your app could find itself removed from Google Play. Harsh? A little bit. But it seems Google’s finally had enough, and they’re now trying to clean up the Play Store’s image of being a safe haven for spam, spyware, or other junk.

In regard to in-app purchases, we recently saw the new badge (right below the app’s title) disclosing when an app contains in-app purchases. Google is taking it one step further by requiring that developers disclose in their Play Store listing when a particular feature (multiplayer for instance) requires an in-app purchase. Nice.

There’s also a lot of new stuff in there regarding ads and some new additions to their spyware section that addresses surveillance and tracking apps. Google warns that any new apps published to the Play Store after today will be immediately subject to these new policy changes, with apps already on Google Play having 15 days to comply with the update or face removal.

If you’re a developer looking for more information, you can view the Google Play Developer Program Policies page here.

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Google I/O 2014 registration opens April 8th, applicants to be randomly selected Wed, 26 Mar 2014 20:15:07 +0000 Google IO 2014

Every year it’s the same thing. Google I/O registration opens, and in a mad frenzy to apply, the server crashes and for many, they find out they’ve missed their opportunity to attend one of the single biggest events of the year. Lots of tears and bloodshed, but this year Google is doing things different.

Today, the Google Developers Blog officially announced when Google I/O 2014 registrations will open: April 8th – 10th. Now that you’ve got that marked in your calendar, you’re no doubt ready to call in a “sick day” to make sure you don’t miss your shot. Don’t bother. As mentioned previously, Google is handling registration a whole lot different this year.

Google IO 2014 selection process

Instead of first come first serve — the selection promise will be completely random. This means you can apply anytime between April 7th through 9th, and you’ll have the same chances of getting in as the guy who applies right when it opens (5AM PT to be exact). Neat huh?

Google has also officially launched their new Google I/0 2014 site, but at the moment seems to be experiencing technical difficulties. For those enrolled in college, tickets will run $300, while “normals” get a ticket for $900. Google I/O 2014 kicks off June 25th – 26th, in beautiful San Francisco. Hit up the link below for more info.

[Google IO 2014]

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Pocket for Android Wear arrives via developer SDK Fri, 21 Mar 2014 01:05:06 +0000 Pocket banner

Well, that didn’t take long. After Google officially announced their all new Android Wear preview SDK earlier this week, Pocket is one of the first big services already touting Android Wear compatibility. In fact, the company even showed off an early prototype of their service working with the tiny OS, custom tailored for the smartwatch.


Now it’s not technically an app, which means it wont actually give users the ability to read saved Pocket articles. After all, that’s not why Android Wear was built (something clearly different from Samsung’s approach where Pocket is a full featured app on the Galaxy Gear). Instead, Pocket for Android Wear will be available as an SDK for app developers — not users — to implement into their apps via an action. We told you about Android Wear actions on Tuesday, card options that are accessible by swiping a card to the left. This means Pocket would simply be an available action, and with Android Wear devs only allowed a total of 3 — looks like they’ll have some tough choices to make.

Once implemented, an app — one like Twitter which sees a lot of article sharing — would allow the user to quickly save articles to their Pocket account directly from the smartwatch. Later, a user could open their smartphone or tablet and ready what was saved. Simple. Easy. Intuitive.

Developers looking to get down with Pocket’s new SDK can grab it on Github here.


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Google Play Services 4.3 begins rolling out with new game features, Drive APIs and more Tue, 18 Mar 2014 12:28:27 +0000 Google Play Services

Yesterday, at the annual Game Developers’ Conference, Google told us a bit about the future of Google Play Games, with the company detailing a system of being able to gift in-game items to friends and family, as well as improved SDK tools for cross-platform multiplayer.

Those goods and more have been launched in Google Play Services 4.3, which is now rolling out to everyone across the globe. Aside from the new Google Play Games features already discussed, Google is bringing us a new suite of APIs for Google Drive. Here’s the full gamut of everything Google’s added in today’s update:

  • Pinning – You can now pin files that should be kept up to date locally, ensuring that it is available when the user is offline. This is great for users that need to use your app with limited or no connectivity
  • App Folders – An app often needs to create files which are not visible to the user, for example to store temporary files in a photo editor. This can now be done using App Folders, a feature is analogous to Application Data Folders in the Google Drive API
  • Change Notifications – You can now register a callback to receive notifications when a file or folder is changed. This mean you no longer need to query Drive continuously to check if the data has changed, just put a change notification on it

Google is also releasing a new address API that will allow apps to request access to address fields from contacts to automatically fill out an address form. It’s great that those address fields will finally be put to good use other than the need to remember someone’s address the next time you’re trying to find out how to get to their house on Google Maps.

Finally, developers will enjoy improved analytics, as well as a new Tag Manager. The Tag Manager gives developers the ability to dynamically change app elements — such as menu or text colors — on the fly without having to issue a full app update. This would be perfect for an app that wants to change its colors to reflect the Christmas season, for instance, and then quickly revert back to normal colors once the festivities pass.

As usual, there’s no telling when or if developers will implement these new features into your favorite apps, so the best you can do is write to them and request that they improve their apps with these new tools.

[via Google]

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Google announces “game gifts” for Google Play Games at GDC 2014 Mon, 17 Mar 2014 13:58:25 +0000 gdc google play games

Game Developers’ Conference 2014 is kicking off today, and Google seems to have been the first one to make an announcement at the annual event. It all has to do with Google Play Games, natch.

Firstly, Google is announcing the ability to gift in-game items to friends and family in your Google+ circles. They’re calling this “game gifts,” and it sounds flat-out awesome. They’ll also be enabling the ability for players to send multiplayer invites to friends directly, as well as introducing 18 new game categories in the Google Play Store to make it easier for folks to find what they’re looking for.

Next up, Google announced forthcoming support for iOS. While that may not seem noteworthy for those of you without an iOS device, it actually is. Google will be updating their Unity tools to allow easy cross-platform multiplayer, so you could eventually be playing your favorite games with your iPhone and iPad-owning buddies as if you had one yourself.

Other news was more for developers, with Google announcing improved statistics and ad analytics. Google says most of these new tools will be available starting tomorrow, though users probably shouldn’t expect their favorite games to implement anything and everything right away. Whether it takes a week or a few months, we’re definitely excited to see all of this stuff implemented in the latest games moving forward.

[via Google]

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Developer taps into Snapdragon 800′s always-listening core, give Nexus 5 Moto X-like Touchless Controls Tue, 11 Mar 2014 02:07:44 +0000

A post on Google+ blew up after the developer of a popular custom ROM showed off a proof of concept where his Nexus 5 effectively mimicked the always listening “Touchless Control” function found in the Motorola Moto X. How exactly was this done, you ask? No witchcraft, just a little Android knowledge.

Still in its early state, was able to tap into Qualcomm’s QDSP6V5 low-power DSP core found in the Snapdragon 800 processor. Because this is separate from the cores used for handling applications, in theory, this would have a minimal impact on battery life, keeping the main CPU in a sleep state as usual.

Although Qualcomm has yet to release any of the Snapdragon 800′s always listening APIs to developers (we could never figure out exactly why), they sure had no problem boasting about this specific feature of their SoC. It’s a shame we haven’t really seen it in action, until now.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU

Because this is still very much “unofficial,” and the developer is attempting to avoid drama with Qualcomm’s legal department, he’s holding back from releasing any details on how it was done. For now, we can find solace in knowing that it has been accomplished (however buggy), and that there’s still a glimmer of hope this feature may find itself in a future version of the OmniROM custom Android software.

Who knows, maybe Qualcomm is keeping their cards close to their chest for a future Nexus device, or even Android release. Why should the Moto X have all the fun?

Thanks, Derek!


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Microsoft releases open source Office 365 SDK preview for Android Tue, 11 Mar 2014 00:59:35 +0000 Office 365 SDK for Android Preview

Not sure if unexpected (or just refreshing?), but Microsoft has released an open source Office 365 SDK for Android. What does this mean? Well, now developers can start building Android apps using the SDK to pull data from Offiice 365. Everything from Exchange contacts, emails and calendar entries, to SharePoint lists, folders, and files, will be accessible from other apps, should the developer bake Office 365 compatibility into their apps.

Right now, the SDK is available in developer preview, but interested devs can get a jump by heading over to github to learn more. Cheers.

[Office 365 SDK for Android Preview]

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TWRP 2.7 brings extremely long list of new features and changes Mon, 10 Mar 2014 15:57:22 +0000 twrp tablet

Rooters and ROMers beware: TWRP 2.7 is here, and it wants to eat your lunch. The custom touch-based recovery by TeamWin will do so with a multitude of new features, including new graphics rendering changes to make for a smoother user interface and experience, mouse support via USB OTG for folks whose displays might be broken, text wrap in the console output and more.

Here’s the full list of changes we’re to look forward to:

  • Faster graphics rendering by disabling alpha blending on fully opaque objects thanks to Tassadar
  • Allow sideloading from /tmp on encrypted devices
  • Check for a crypto footer before asking for a password to prevent user confusion
  • Additional checks for validity to auto generated backup names
  • Text wrap in the console output
  • Proper caps lock support in the keyboard
  • Mouse support via USB OTG for devices with a broken digitizer
  • Improve scanning of storage locations for OpenRecoveryScript
  • Haptic feedback for buttons, keyboard, and vibration at the end of longer running actions
  • Fixed ext4 wiping when no selinux contexts are defined for that partition (e.g. sd-ext)
  • Update SuperSU to 1.93 and improve installation process
  • Added selinux contexts restoration to fix permissions
  • Load RTC offset on Qualcomm devices to fix the date/time in recovery
  • USB Mass Storage fixes Add SELinux support checking
  • Add Disk Usage class to better handle excluded folders (e.g. Google Music cache)
  • Add 4.4 decrypt support
  • Add some toolbox utilities to TWRP (namely to support SELinux functions not supported in busybox)
  • Various SELinux fixes and bug fixes

Unfortunately, users of some older devices will find that their devices will no longer be fully supported. Namely, any device that can’t handle the newly-added SELinux support will be dropped from the team’s immediate radar. This is because SELinux support requires a phone that can handle an Android 4.1 or higher base to install any ROM built on Android 4.4 and higher.

That doesn’t mean your device will never be able to install Android 4.4 KitKat ROMs through TWRP 2.7, but the team will need someone with one of these devices to help them with proper development and testing. An easy way to check if your phone supports SELinux is to open the terminal console. Supported phones will show “Full SELinux support,” while those which don’t, won’t. Simple, right?

If you’re ready to take the plunge, be sure to head to TWRP’s website here and check to see if your device is on the list. If it is, download the appropriate files and follow the instructions closely. As always, you’re responsible for anything that happens to your device as a result of trying to install this custom recovery, and you also run the risk of voiding your warranty, so keep that in mind before proceeding.

[via TWRP]

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Android’s distribution numbers for March: KitKat on the rise, while Gingerbread slowly dies Tue, 04 Mar 2014 23:06:52 +0000 Android Platform Distribution numbers March 2014

It’s time once again for Google to update us on the current state of Android. Posted today to the Android Developers page, these stats are a way for Android devs to see the percentage of Android devices — and the versions of Android they’re running — that have recently visited the Google Play Store. No point in building an app optimized for Froyo when nobody is using it, right?

To make things easier to view at a glance, here are this month’s numbers as compared to February 2014 (previous month).

Android versions February –> March

  • KitKat: 1.8% –> 2.5%
  • Jelly Bean: 60.7% –> 62%
  • Ice Cream Sandwich: 16.1% –> 15.2%
  • Gingerbread: 20% –> 19%

As we can see, KitKat made a sizeable jump as more and more Android OEMs continue upgrading many of the last year’s flagship devices to Android 4.4 KitKat. We’re still in the process of watching that play out, so we’ll more than likely need another month before the Ones and GS4′s of the world are completely updated. Don’t forget all those new flagships scheduled to launch over the next few months should have that number spiking, so watch out.

Looking at Jelly Bean numbers, we really hate to lump them in with each other as there are some pretty big differences when moving from 4.1.x to 4.3 (as any Android enthusiast will tell you). We did see that 4.1.x too a slight dip from 35.5% in Feb, to 35.3% this month. We’re sure this was likely due to devices being upgraded to later versions of Jelly Bean, as 4.2.x and 4.3 continued to rise — and that’s a good thing.

Our favorite number? Watching the now ancient Android 2.3 Gingerbread drop down to 19% of active Android devices using Google Play. Once again, these numbers do not account for off-Androids like the Nokia X or Amazon HDX tablets which use alternative app stores and services than Google’s own.

[Android Developers]

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