Thursday, December 22, 2011

Help us fix hardware acceleration for Adreno 200 based devices

Sandvold, a developer from XDA, currently working on an Ice Cream Sandwich ROM for the HTC Desire, has made a proposition that is most likely to succeed in its main objective.
You can track his progress on the ROM on his website. You may try it for yourself, if you're a Desire owner, and see how well the hacked hardware acceleration works -- not very well! :(

Sandvold asks that we send an e-mail to the CEO of Qualcomm, asking for the GPU drivers that are much needed in order to make the hardware acceleration work.

As you may know, Android 4.0 ICS is relying on the GPU to accelerate the user interface. Since HTC and Google dropped support for the Google Nexus One and related devices (such as the HTC Desire) -- all using the Adreno 200 GPU, by Qualcomm -- base drivers are out of date. Our only hope is the development community AND Qualcomm. Many developers from XDA, including the CyanogenMod team, are hard at work trying to hack the hardware acceleration, but this may not be possible as soon as we would hope without Qualcomm's drivers.

This is what you can do to help us : send an e-mail to the address, with the subject QSD 8250, Adreno 200 hardware-related proprietary libraries for hardware graphics acceleration.
The content of the message should look like below, but perhaps you could edit it a bit (a bit more, actually) or write your own wall of text, so it doesn't get marked as spam...

As a mobile devices enthusiast, I am here to ask Qualcomm to be a real community oriented company.

You are well aware of the Hardware Accelerated User Interface in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, that relies heavily on GPU of the device. Google, with its Android Open Source Project, has decided not to support the Google Nexus One, HTC Desire and related devices. As community users, we have long stopped relying on HTC and Google to support these devices - this is now a community effort that brings joy to millions of people, and is a true development pass time for many.

Since the ICS source outing, many community projects have been started to bring the new platform to older devices, but all of them (for devices based on this and similiar platforms) are missing the proprietary user space drivers, needed for the Hardware Acceleration to work.

I believe it would be a great move for a company like Qualcomm to support advanced users and enthusiast in their efforts to port Ice Cream Sandwich to Adreno 200 based devices.

I sincerely hope you will at least consider this request and decide to support the community - the same community that, with their enthusiasm, helped to make the smartphone market what it is today.

Take into account that we do not ask for much; it is just a set of compiled binaries that you surely have already, or are easy for you to make. We do not expect you to support the release, or do bugfixes. It would be even better if you could supply the source code - but let's not push it too far. 

Also, you can join us on the thread we created for this, on Qualcomm's Developer Network, and say your opinnion there and track the progress if you're interested!

I thank you in the name of all Adreno 200 based devices owners from XDA :D

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lockscreens for all

ROMs like vanilla Android ROMs and Sense ROMs don't offer you many lockscreen styles to choose from. In fact, you barely get three styles (and that is in the case of CyanogenMod) or none at all (when it comes to HTC Sense). Well, you can change that now. It's very easy, works on every ROM, and I assure you, the outcome is AWESOME.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Colorful... bright... why not both?!

I've been busy during the last few days : been going to all GSM providers' shops, see what's new and play around. I've seen what I was expecting to see : the Samsung Galaxy Note, HTC Sensation XL and the Nokia N9. I'm not going to go into any of their details now. All I want to focus on is the displays, and not only those that are found in the three devices mentioned above.

I own a HTC Desire myself, and I'm pretty proud with it, by the way. It has a Samsung-provided AMOLED screen, which is said to beat the S-LCD that is found in many devices nowadays. I'm kind of lucky for having the AMOLED version of the Desire, and not the S-LCD one. Why "kind of"? You'll see.

Samsung Galaxy S - features Super AMOLED
Samsung Galaxy S II - features Super AMOLED+
Samsung Galaxy Note - the same Super AMOELD+ found in the Galaxy S II
HTC Sensation, HTC Desire HD, HTC Desire S, HTC Desire Z - Super LCD
iPhone 4, iPhone 4S - LED-backlit IPS TFT (the name combines so many "technologies" that it makes me don't wanna look into what this screen actually is)

I've put all these devices next to my HTC Desire. I've tested how each of these devices' screens behave with the brightness set to maximum, then to minimum, to better observe and reach a conclusion.

HTC Desire vs. Samsung Galaxy S
Both phones have basically the same screen, with the Galaxy S having a brighter one (hence the "SUPER" in the name). Also, it displays colours sharper, so I'd say Super AMOLED is better than AMOLED, which everyone would expect, by looking at the name.
There's a problem with AMOLED screens, though. After some time, the "wear" effect appears, commonly known as "ghosting". I already have this on my Desire, and even though it's not ALWAYS noticeable, when it IS noticeable, it's UTMOST ANNOYING. Basically, when the "ghosting" occurs, you see "shadows" of what was on the previous screen (image), say... when you open the keyboard to type something, then close it, and you still see some fading remnant of the keyboard.

HTC Desire vs. Samsung Galaxy S II

The Galaxy S II's display is said to be BETTER than its predecessor, the Galaxy S (hence the "+" in the name). Well, the reality is that while the Super AMOLED+ may display colours a BIT better than the Super AMOLED, put next to my Desire's AMOLED, it doesn't look great at all. To be honest, the SAMOLED+ fared better only in the "theoretic" test, made with the Screen Test application.

<< I do not have enough time to finish this post, I will finish it within 24 hours, I promice :D >>
Attempt to finish the post. One more phrase and it would have been done... but, somehow, I clicked the RMB wrong and it went back one page -- post unsaved. I'm raging out, I'll finish this post before Christmas...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How to be safe while surfing the web via Wi-Fi

You may already know that it is possible to "hack" whatever someone is doing on their Android phone while browsing the web, using an unprotected wireless network (say a McDonald's public hotspot -- if you can find one that actually works, haha).

There's this app called Wifi Protector, developed by XDA member gurkedev, which... well, does what its name says : protects you while on an unprotected wireless network (which we find in many public places nowadays). Wifi Protector is an Android security app designed to detect and prevent ARP (read below to see what this is) poisoning attacks against your phone, while connected to a public Wi-Fi hotspot.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Unwanted ads in rogue apps

You may have seen a LOT of advertisements, on a LOT of websites, about AirPush. AirPush "pushes" (inserts) different types of advertisements to users, advertisements that generate revenue for the developer that included the pay-per-install code (by AirPush) into the application. Then, the developer gets paid every time one thousand impressions are made (1 impression is made when one user has seen an advertisement; so it takes one thousand views for the developer to get paid around $6 - $40 - depending on where the users have seen the ads from; according to AirPush).

Saturday, November 26, 2011


SetCPU modulates the processor frequencies and the way the operating system scales them. Basically, it's an overclocking tool. With it you can make sure your phone uses a specific amount of CPU (minimum-maximum), hence making your battery last longer (given you choose to underclock it, not force it to the limits).

You can find it in the Android Market, but it's not free; you gotta pay for it, but trust me, it really is worth those two bucks.
You can also download it, for free, from XDA-Developers, but only if you are a member, of course. Link to the thread where you can download it, right here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Choose a ROM - CyanogenMod

You probably already heard about this. CyanogenMod is the most popular ROM, supporting nearly 50 devices in the present. It is the oldest ROM, too, being in development since Android 1.6 Donut.

"CyanogenMod (pronounced sigh-AN-oh-jen-mod), is a customized, aftermarket firmware distribution for several Android devices. Based on the Android Open Source Project, CyanogenMod is designed to increase performance and reliability over Android-based ROMs released by vendors and carriers such as Google, T-Mobile, HTC, etc. CyanogenMod also offers a variety of features & enhancements that are not currently found in these versions of Android." - their own description.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Face unlock by-pass in Ice Cream Sandwich

The new screen lock feature Ice Cream Sandwich has (face unlock) seemed so awesome when Google & Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Nexus one month ago. Basically, face unlock does what it actually says : uses your face to unlock the phone so you can use it, obviously. But not by slamming your face on the phone'ss screen; you take a photo of yourself, and then, every time you want to unlock the phone, the frontal camera  will be used to detect your face and... well, it should be pretty straightforward.

As secure as this feature might sound to you, it is NOT 100% hack-proof (so-to-say), and the video below demonstrates just that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich source code has been released. Brace for impact!

Google software engineer Jean-Baptiste Queru announced that the Android 4.0 source code is being rolled out to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) where it will be available for the public to download.

Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), is the latest version of Google's mobile operating system. The first device to officially feature Android 4.0 will be the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, announced last month in Hong Kong.

Ice Cream Sandwich is a significant update because it brings all earlier versions of Android together -- that includes Honeycomb, whose code wasn't released to the public specifically to prevent developers from porting it to unsupported devices and cause mayhem. But Honeycomb's source code is included in Ice Cream Sandwich's code, because ICS was built on top of it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Titanium Backup

Another must have app we're going to review is Titanium Backup. Again, there are two versions for this. The free version is Titanium Backup ★ root, which you can unlock (upgrade to PRO) using the paid application, Titanium Backup PRO Key ★ root. Both can be found in the Android Market.

This application does what the name says : manages applications. You can backup applications (system & installed b user), delete and restore them. It's very handy, and you should have it!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

ROM Manager

This is the application through which you install your first Recovery - ClockworkMod - once you've rooted your phone. This app is a must have! Go to the Market, search for ROM Manager, download & install it. Now run the application. There's a pro version as well, which enables features such as ROM Update, ROM Downloads... If you want to enjoy all the features and also help the developer for his effort, consider downloading the pro version. The app is developed by Koush, who is also the creator of the ClockworkMod recoveries!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bluetooth 4.0

Bluetooth isn't a topic that people talk about in general. It WAS a high-end feature 4 years ago when phones with Bluetooth were looked at like they were gods. Now, it's just there, even though you have wi-fi to sync files over.

Most devices carry a Bluetooth 2.0 chip. There have been some devices that had a Bluetooth 3.0 chip built-in, and when those were launched, people started to babble about it, whether they know what they're saying or not. But that's over, since Bluetooth 4.0 is to take place from now on -- or so we should consider, given the following...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Choose a ROM - LeeDrOiD

We already covered what a custom ROM is and how you can flash one, but we didn't thoroughly talked about specific ROMs. So, that's what we'll do now.

There are many ROMs, some for just few specific devices, some for a wide range of phones... the choice of which you want is up to you. Since I'm a Desire user, I will mostly give you Desire ROMs, but that doesn't mean I'll leave other devices out of the question.

Let's head over to the first ROM we're going to present here.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Flashing & using a Recovery - PART 2

So, what is the recovery? Basically, what the name says -- a low-level part of the system, which is used in emergency cases, so-to-say. It's like the menus you see on your computer's screen right after the BIOS has booted, and before the OS has started up. That might be a bit far-fetched, but it's the closest familiar comparision I can make rigth now...

The recovery is present in all phones running Android, although access to it may be limited or absent in some devices.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Custom ROMs

Now that we covered rooting, unlocking and flashing Recovery, it's time to move on to what we'll discuss on this website from now on : custom ROMs.

A custom ROM is basically the software on your Android device. There are MANY teams that compile ROMs for the majority of Android devices out there. To name a few : Lee (makes ROMs for the HTC Desire, Desire HD, Sensation, EVO 3D, Flyer), Cyanogen (about 50 devices), MIUI (about 20 devices). There are many other ROMs out there, some device-specific ROMs and some wide-spread ROMs. Cyanogen, for example, is wide-spread, since the team is not building just for ONE device. Same goes for MIUI -- including fansites, about 15 of them.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Flashing & using a Recovery - PART 1

Alright guys. Now that you have a rooted phone, we can get to the real deal : unleashing its potential.

A ROM is actually what the name says : Read Only Memory. It's the software on the phone. It's basically a .zip file you must flash -- just like a bootable .iso Linux or a Windows CD/DVD installer.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Unlocking your bootloader

Your phone has some sort of BIOS, which is called the bootloader. The only thing we really care about in this thing is how it manages partition sizes in the phone's flash memory (NAND) and the security checks that it performs on each boot.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

First things first : rooting

Disclaimer: Rooting your device will void its warranty. In addition, performing the rooting procedure incorrectly may have unexpected consequences. Please do this at your own risk. Shape Shift NAND will not be liable if your device gets damaged or bricked during the process.
Unexpected consequences (in the modding world, it's called "bricking") may occur only if you either have a malfunctioning hardware or software, or if you don't follow the steps as they are. Or, if you're simply unlucky. No one can say for sure why bricking happens, but it is VERY RARE. I have rooted and modded many Android devices, and trust me, I have not encountered a single problem. It is safe, unless you do something wrong, of course.


Welcome! If you entered this website, it is likely that you own an Android-powered device and you intend to either expand your territory of knowledge regarding Android modding, either start modding for the first time. In either cases, you'll stand out!

This website will not only contain information regarding Android modding, but news about tech stuff, too. And by tech I don't mean a new door design for your bathroom; I mean a concept for a new type of display having a full high definition resolution spread onto 4.7 inches of LED-coated sheet. Okay, maybe a new door design for your bathroom, too -- since you don't see that every day :-) .

So, this website will have several sections :
-Android, which would include : tutorials, custom ROMs & mods, themes, applications etc.
-Tech News
-Tune of the Week (but this remains to be sorted out later on) -- because I am a drum & base lover myself, I think this section will contain mostly drum & base (dubstep, too, maybe) music -- from YouTube, most probably. That, just to keep you entertained in case the Android world suddenly collapses (which will never happen ) :-D .

I may think of other sections as well. It depends -- on what, I am not entirely sure.

Also, please be aware of the fact that I am a student in the first year in the "arts" of electrical engineering. Not that it matters what I study, but the problem is that my spare-time might be narrowed (by force, of course) once every a couple of months, since university life isn't all shiny and beautiful... hope you know what I mean. So... don't expect me to be able to put up a new post every one / two days. I'll try to keep this up, anyway...