Saturday, January 25, 2014

Rooted essentials

Rooting implies getting root access on your Android device.Usually it stops on flashing a custom ROM.
But there is much more to rooting than just flashing Cyanogen or AOKP or any other ROM for that matter.With root access,you have a deeper control over the phones hardware.
Phones with locked bootloaders need to go a step further,unlocking it,to gain access to kernel.

Following is a list of apps which come in handy,once you've rooted your device.All of these can easily be found on the play store,and quick search on xda would give you an even more insight on the app.
1. Greenify
This app maintains a list of apps,which you want to be killed from its incessant background services/process or "greenified".Apps like Maps,Facebook are useful,but constant background services not only increase data usage,but also take a toll on the battery life.Worse,these consume valuable RAM.
Greenify runs a process,at a specified interval of time,after you lock your screen.Once run,it kills off all the apps in the list,freeing the device of valuable RAM,at the same time keeping a check on the battery life.
(The latest update makes Greenify run on non-rooted devices too!)

2. Xposed Framework
Most Android tweaks on the system packages require a tedious task of decompiling the apk,making the changes,and then recompiling the apk.Not only is it a tedious process,but it is device and ROM specific as well.Also,for multiple files,we usually flash a zip from recovery.
Xposed provides a framework for 'modules',make the necessary changes in the apks on the start-up itself.This makes the modules independent of the device,ROM,etc.
Point to be noted here is Xposed is just a framework.You need modules like GravityBox,for eg,which provides an AIO solution to visual and functional tweaks,usually found in most custom ROMs.
Even Greenify provides a host of experimental features,which can be activated via Xposed.

Only downside being this is not ART compatible.But that shouldn't matter much.

3.Solid Explorer
I used to swear by Root Explorer,when I first rooted,but this file manager came bundled in with one of the ROMs I was trying out,and,I haven't looked back since.
It has one of the most simplest and elegant UI there is to for an Android file manager,with a host of features like 2 panels side-by-side,FTP,bookmarking of favourites,quick access to media,etc.

4.Titanium Backup
This is the AIO rooted toolkit.
Backup up app,its data;Convert system app to user app and vice-versa;Automate the backup process;Freeze system apps,uninstall system apps;move apps to SD card(well you get the point!)

A true life saver!

This is by far the most exhaustive sound mod for Android,I've come across,with loads of support for custom settings.
Cyanogen's custom music tuner,the DSP Manager is the most basic sound mods out there(In no way is it inferior though).V4A is DSP Manager on steroids.

If you know your sound,you are gonna absolutely love the Expert mode on this app.

6.CyanDelta(CM only)
Instead of downloading the whole ROM,what this app does is maintains a local copy of the current ROM zip,and downloads only the changes it finds against the latest ROM that is available.So,instead of downloading almost 200 MBs,you end up downloading only a tenth of that,to upgrade between ROMs.
You just need to hit the download button,it downloads,packs up a new zip and then you click on install.It boots to recovery,wipes the cache(if you've opted for it),flashes the zip and boots up,all by itself.
Another killer feature about this app is you can maintain a list of additional zips that can be flashed after it flashes the ROM itself.
Needless to say,it provides automatic checking of updates,which can be configured by time.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Two Thousand Techteen

2013 ended.So here's a quick recap!


2013 was dominated by wearable devices.We had Google Glass,Pebble Smartwatch,Oculus Rift,et al!
Starting off with Pebble Smartwatch,which was showcased in CES,right at the beginning of the year,it paved the way for Sony's smartwatch,Samsung's Galaxy Gear.But the problem with the latter ones were the bloatware that came along.
Pebble was neat,minimal and e-ink!

Then Google teased it's Glass,and well,I need not say anything.It's just one of those,"Shut up and take my money" moments.

While Glass was more like HUD,Oculus(yet another Kickstarter porject),was like a freaking display slashed onto your face!Oculus Rift displayed the most immersive experience that is to when it came to Virtual Reality.

With Valve in process of showcasing their own VR goggles,whatever the future holds,whenever wearables become commonplace,2013 will be marked as the year that wearables became mainstream.


There was HD,then came 2K.What was to follow?
4K of course.
And this Ultra-HD wasn't just restricted to TVs.No sir,we had tablets offering 4K resolutions.
Just feels like yesterday when I was awestruck by a 720p resolution and here we were witnessing more than 4 times the pixel density!

Ultra-mega-humongous resolutions were the only highlights for displays.We finally witnessed what had been teased a lot 2012,flexible displays.Not only did we get prototypes,there were consumer products,with curved OLED displays on sale.
And as the year drew to an end,we got phones with curved displays from LG and Samung.

Gaming Consoles:

It was like 7 years since Sony had a major refresh for the PS,and almost same time since Microsoft updated their XBox.So,well,come 2013 and both Sony and Microsoft updated their consoles to PS4 and XBox One,respectively.
With on paper specs which made the previous versions look like handheld,8 bit consoles,both the consoles took things online and cloud storage.Both a pro and con.

There was also OUYA's,ultra cheap Android based gaming console,Razer's and NVIDIA's,hand held consoles,Razer's gaming laptops,Android updating its Play Games app,and what not!

All and all,a good year for gamers. :)

Mobile Phones:

Two major headlines of the year,RIM renaming itself to BlackBerry,and BlackBerry with its final ace in the pack,unveiling the BB10,and failing.
Other being Nokia's takeover by Microsoft.

Samsung unveiling tons of mobiles under the Galaxy series,Apple,for the first time unveiling more than one iPhone,LG releasing the next Nexus series.
Amongst these,my picks were Sony giving huge support to the development community with the release of source codes for their flagship devices,and,Motorola.Boy,did Moto make its presence felt in 2013!
Firstly the Moto X,and towards the end of the year,the mid range Moto G.Again,embracing Open Source with open arms,and updating their devices to the latest software on offering.If only Moto,you'd release your phones all over the world!

And just before the year ended,Oppo released the first phone,with out-of-the-box after market ROM,CyanogenMod.

Oh,the usual patent trolls continued through the year.


All pc,mobile OS saw their yearly updates.
Biggest of them all,Canonical's preview of Ubuntu for phones.Ubuntu,by far cleanest Linux experience was finally a full fledged OS for the phone.Though just a preview,it got the ball rolling,with the OS ported to major Android devices.

Windows bumped both desktop and phones OS,with desktop version criticized for leaving out the iconic start button.The phone version getting incremental updates,to finally compete with Android and iOS.Also,helped with the merger of Nokia,Windows can finally develop the mobile OS,with control on both software and hardware.

BB moved to a touch-oriented OS with the BB10,betting all its fortune on this one piece of software.While BB10 did have it moments,it couldn't really connect as a whole OS,and failed to revive BB.

Android updated it self from 4.2 to 4.3 Jelly Bean and finally 4.4,Kit-Kat.With 4.4 came major Kit-Kat promotions and on the software front,Google's promise to optimize low end devices.To an extend,I did feel the 4.4 better than 4.3,on my i9000,and no,this isn't placebo!
With 4.4,Google also pushed it's new runtime environment,dubbed ART(Android Runtime).Set to optimize the startup time for applications,and amongst other things,its a step ahead from the Dalvik VM,but the downside being it's still in Beta phase and not many apps as of now.

And finally iOS completed its Android transformation with the release of iOS 7.Moving away from the black-white-grey colour scheme,iOS 7 was all about bold colours,for the software(and,it came with matching hardware).It included an improved notification center and a central command center.
Macs updated themselves to OS X Mavericks,shying away from the tradition of naming the OSes after cats,to places in California.That being the only major change,rest being the usual incremental updates on visual and functional line.


- CyanogenMod went from being an Open Source ROM to a corporate company,Cyanogen Inc.,and finding itself an OEM partner in Oppo,to release the Oppo N1 with out-of-the-box CyanogenMod
- Ballmer stepped as CEO for Microsoft
- JBQ quit. :(
- Hugo Barra left Google to join Xiaomi
- Bitcoin became serious moolah!
- Nokia released its Windows based tablet
- Fingerprint scanner on phones
..And lots more that I missed!