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1 year ago

Weekend project: Customize your home screen with UCCW, the ultimate custom widget

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Anytime you see folks discussing the virtues of Android, you hear the word custom being thrown around in one form or another. We're not talking about ROMs or kernels or anything like that, we mean the built in options to make your Android phone look like no other phone -- widgets. Specifically UCCW, the ultimate custom widget.

Ultimate is a pretty bold claim for any developer to make, especially when you're talking something as personal as the way our phones look. UCCW works it though, and is a way to change the look and feel of your home screen in a way only limited by your imagination. It's a "master" widget, which is simply a blank canvas that's painted the way you decide, either through your own talent or from themes (called uzips) that other talented folks have created.  Hit the jump, have a look, and get customized.

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1 year ago

From the mail bag: What the heck does deodexed mean?

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Clark writes,

What the heck does odex and deodex actually mean? I see the terms mentioned in almost every custom ROM thread and can't find an answer that I can understand. I'm hoping that Android Central can help out.

Awesome question, Clark. And one I think we can answer in terms that most folks will understand. As you've noted, you see the terms odex and deodexed in many forums posts about custom ROMs or assorted hacks for phones and tablets both. It takes a lot of work for developers to create deodexed ROMs from "stock" ROMs, like the ones offered from both OEMs and Google alike.

To begin, we need to know what an odex file is.  It's a part of an application (the .apk file) that has been prebuilt to make the Dalvik Virtual Machine load it faster using less resources. If you look in the /system/app/ folder on your Android phone or tablet, you'll see that just about every application has both an .apk file and an .odex file. These files work together through the Dalvik VM to make the apps run as they should on our devices. Let's break it all down after the break.

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1 year ago

Ask AC: How to tell when HDR is enabled in Android 4.2

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D3lit3 writes in our Nexus 4 forums,

I was taking pictures with my baby and I realized that the HDR mode does not show a tick when you enable it. Thus I am left in confusion because I never know if my pics have HDR. Am I missing something? Thanks.

Don't be left in confusion, D3lit3! While this only applies to the stock camera app in Android 4.2, it is a change, and a little easy to overlook. When you're in HDR mode -- or any other scene mode, you'll see it listed in the circle in the corner. That circle may move around a little bit, depending on which way you're holding the phone. (Also, tap that circle to pull up the settings buttons.) But that's where you'll see it.

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1 year ago

How to set up the right APN on your Nexus 4

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For many people, buying the Nexus 4 will be their first time stepping into several different arenas. First GSM device, first unlocked device, first time using a prepaid carrier. Once everything is setup there's not a whole lot of difference in using an unlocked GSM phone, but unfortunately it's not always 100 percent frictionless. One of the only things that the user is likely to have to change on their devices when putting a SIM in is the APN (Access Point Name) settings.

Each carrier has distinct APN settings that let the phone operate on the network. It works in conjunction with the SIM to get you setup and registered on the network for full-speed data as well as texts and MMS. We're going to give you a quick run-down of the most popular U.S. carrier's APN settings and just how to set them up on the Nexus 4. Join us after the break.

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1 year ago

How-To unlock the Nexus 10 bootloader

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One of the reasons you buy a Nexus device is easy, complete access to the device hardware. The stock software is great, but we all know sometimes its fun to tinker around with your own creations. Nexus devices have locked bootloaders out of the box (and that's a good thing), but unlocking them is trivial. Just like the Nexus phones and tablets before it, the Nexus 10 is no exception.

Just because unlocking the bootloader is easy doesn't mean it's for everyone, however. Part of unlocking is understanding the risks that come along with it. Having a device running with an unlocked bootloader means that anyone who has access to your device in turn has access to every bit of software (and personal data) on it -- even if you're using security measures such as a lockscreen.

If you decide that unlocking the bootloader is something you want to accomplish, then doing it right out of the box is a good idea. The process of unlocking completely wipes all of your personal data off of the device, so you won't want to do this two months after you get it. You'll want to spend the little bit of time to unlock first before setting it up just how you like it.

Alright, now that we've got that out of the way, let's double up unlock your shiny new Nexus 10's bootloader.

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1 year ago

Ask AC: Is Android Linux?

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While trawling through the Internet today I came across the Linux Foundation's page, and my eyes were pulled to their top story. Now this is nothing new, I often find plenty of great articles and news to read there, but this was different. This was a post that was about Android. 

It got me thinking (sometimes I do that) -- is Android Linux? The folks at the Linux Foundation seem to think so (and seem awfully happy about it), and I'm going to have to agree with them. Now before you purists come to West Virginia to beat some sense into me, I'm not saying that Android is unadulterated GNU Linux. Clearly it's not, there's far too many differences and psudeo-open source licensing at play to call it pure. But for all intents and purposes, it's close enough.

Android now runs on top of a standard Linux kernel, and uses many of the same kernelspace utilities and code that my desktop does. Essentially, that's what Linux is -- the heart of many different systems. Google, and the Android partners like Samsung, HTC, and CyanogenMod, then build things out to present the user with an interface to interact with the kernel. The kernel does stuff, all our taps and swipes and presses are telling it the stuff we want it to do. Just like any of the popular Linux distributions that you can install on your computer at home or work.

Android looks and acts a little different because it needs to look and act a little different to be useful on a small touch screen device. Of course, this is the simplified version of things, but if you're the type who understands how the kernelspace and userspace interact, you see where I'm coming from. Too much nerd is often too much.

So the next time you grab your Android-powered phone or tablet, just remember that you're part of the long standing tradition that is Linux. It's a good place to be.

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1 year ago

Inside Android 4.2: Notifications and quick settings

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Finally, Google has added quick settings to the notification pulldown in Android 4.2. That's a feature many have wanted in stock Android since, well, forever. Enthusiast ROMs have added them. The manufacturers have added them. You can download apps that add them. And now, Google's added them in the latest version of Jelly Bean.

Only, Google did it different. Whereas quick settings generally serve as toggles in the notification pulldown, Google's gone a different route. Crazy, or crazy like a fox? Let's take a look.

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1 year ago

Ask AC: When will my current Nexus get Android 4.2?

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Android 4.2 is official! So is the LG Nexus 4! But what about all those current Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7s out there? They're going to get an update to Android 4.2, right? Most certainly. And we're willing to bet the Nexus S goes along for the ride as well.

One thing we don't quite know is when, but we can take a pretty good stab at it. The LG Nexus 4 goes on sale Nov. 13. Don't expect an over-the-air update to push before then, and chances are it'll be at least a few days after that, too. We'll also probably see the Android 4.2 code drop into the Android Open Source Project repositories before any OTA update takes place.

In other words, get your finger off that update button, folks. More than likely you've got a couple weeks of waiting ahead of you. (Though if Google wants to push the button early, you won't hear us complaining.)

More: Google Nexus forums

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1 year ago

How to try out a Nexus 4 (and GSM) with no commitment

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The Nexus 4 has a whole lot of features to be excited about -- that is, unless you're on Verizon or Sprint here in the states. For reasons you can probably figure out on your own, Google has decided to only launch an unlocked GSM model of the Nexus 4, and offer it around the world. This means no LTE -- fear not, it has DC-HSPA+ 42mbps -- but it also keeps the price insanely low. At $299 (8GB) and $349 (16GB) without a contract, it's an extremely tempting proposition.

But as we noted earlier, what if you're on a CDMA carrier? Well there are actually some compelling options if you'd like to "test drive" a Nexus 4 -- and GSM -- before you commit to making it your primary device.

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1 year ago

Weekend project: Flashing Ubuntu to your Nexus 7

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Web browsing on the Nexus 7, using Ubuntu and Firefox

I love fiddling with things. Especially electronic things. I admit, I've fooled with ARM builds of Ubuntu on Android devices, or running them in a chroot environment. I read the comments and forums, so I know I'm not the only one. The problem is, that while it's fairly easy to do, if you're not comfortable with terminal commands you just won't be doing it. Canonical, who is using the Nexus 7 as a sort of reference for Ubuntu on ARM touch devices changed that today by releasing a simple one click installer.

Now, anyone who can install Ubuntu on their computer can just as easily install it on their Nexus 7. It's not very practical, and you'll likely flash back to Android after a few hours of playing with it, but it is extremely cool to play with for a few. If you're the type who likes to hack and flash at your Nexus 7, you will want to try this. Read on.

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