Articles about Modding

Hackintosh -- a meager man finally gets his Mac

hacked apple

I’ve never owned a Mac before, but I’ve secretly wanted one since the release of OS X. The first time I tried the operating system was at CompUSA where I was a salesman. I regularly sold iMacs, iBooks, PowerBooks, Mac Minis and eMacs. The people that came to the Apple section of the store always seemed very odd -- they dressed weird and were loyal to Macintosh as if it were a religion. However, as odd as the people were, they were also very computer literate -- the same could not be said for the average eMachines or Compaq buyer.

Sadly, like many people, Apple hardware has always been too expensive for me -- I live meagerly. And so, I had to settle for Windows. There was nothing bad about Windows per se, but it lacked the cool-factor that the Apple computers had. Plus, I like to build computers and upgrade them. Something like a Mac Mini was affordable but not upgradeable -- a major turnoff.

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The root of the problem -- is there a need for elevated privileges on Android?

Need Want

Playing with root-friendly apps was one of my favorite activities whilst being an Android user. There was something that I can't quite put my finger on -- be it the empowering feeling that I got or the endless possibilities that were available at my disposal -- that attracted me towards having elevated privileges on the green droid operating system.

I would run my Android smartphone with an overclocked processor (and, even GPU) -- which I enjoyed, as it made everything faster -- but, through root, also gained access to some other features, such as the ability to change color profiles, access system-level files and create and restore backups. These are all things that one can't do when running an untouched version of Android. Undeniably, as you can see, rooting has its perks.

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CyanogenMod to receive iMessage-like encryption feature

Cloud Security Communications

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden triggered one of the largest privacy-related scandals, after he revealed information about a secret phone tracking program which targets more than 100 million Verizon customers. The implications are immense, and combined with subsequent leaks, have triggered a shift in privacy and data security approaches.

Following "recent events", CyanogenMod developer Koushik Dutta announced on Google+ that the popular custom Android distribution will receive an iMessage-like encryption feature that will allow users to securely send and receive texts between devices that run CyanogenMod.

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CyanogenMod 10.1 reaches stable status, builds rolling out now

Cyanogenmod logo

Modders rejoice! CyanogenMod 10.1 is now available as a final release, nearly two months after the popular custom green droid distribution reached release candidate status. The latest iteration, which is based on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, carries over existing features from previous (monthly and nightly) builds.

"The list of devices will be in line with the devices that have received release candidates to-date", says the team of developers behind the project. CyanogenMod 10.1 builds are available for a significant number of smartphones and tablets, including the Google Galaxy Nexus (in all of its trims), Nexus 7, ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity and Samsung Galaxy S III (US and international variants) among others.

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Sony wants developers to build custom firmware for its SmartWatch

Sony SmartWatch

Just as with smartphones and tablets, manufacturers look towards developers and enthusiasts to help speed up the adoption of smartwatches. The attractive hardware only gets a wearable so far but companion apps and dedicated software can really open up its appeal towards a larger audience.

But Sony wants to take things one step further. On Thursday, the Japanese maker launched a new project called Open SmartWatch which is designed to "inspire and make it possible" for "advanced developers" to create and run third-party firmware for its SmartWatch. The company takes a similar approach as with the AOSP project for the Xperia Z, by providing the necessary technical information, instructions and software.

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Raspberry Pi’s camera board now available

Pi Camera

Raspberry Pi, the popular credit card-sized ARM GNU/Linux computer, now has a camera add-on. A year in the making, the camera board consists of a small lens on a chip around the size of a postage stamp, attached to a flex cable.

Connecting the module is just a matter of opening the camera port on the Raspberry Pi (it’s situated between the Ethernet and HDMI ports) and inserting the flex. The process is a little fiddly, but easy enough.

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CyanogenMod 10.1 release Candidate 1 is available NOW

cyanogenmod logo

After many nightlies and a couple of stable monthly builds, the team of developers behind CyanogenMod, one of the most popular custom green droid distributions, announced the first release candidate for CyanogenMod 10.1. The latest stable build is based on Android 4.2 and arrives just under six months after Google rolled out the second Jelly Bean iteration.

"The 10.1 branch is quickly approaching the point where a 'final' build is due", says the team of developers responsible for the project. "This will be one of (if not the last) milestone releases before a 10.1.0 is pushed out. These builds will appear as they complete the build process".

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Google Glass is modder-friendly

glass photo

Unlike many other Android devices, Google's Nexus smartphones and tablets do little to spoil the fun for avid modders. The bootloaders are unlockable and root is just a few steps away. It's no wonder then that the Nexus threads on forums are crawling with custom kernels and green droid distributions and all sorts of apps meant to provide even more functionality than what Google throws in out-of-the-box.

As a result, the fact that Google Glass comes with modder-friendly software shouldn't come as a surprise to any Android enthusiast. The idea is fairly simple -- get developers involved in the process of improving the pair of smart glasses. Why? If Android 4.2 is of any indication, the software giant can take some good custom bits and add them into what will be the next Android iteration available for Google Glass.

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Apple credits evad3rs for bugfixes in iOS 6.1.3 -- the jailbreak is gone

Jail bars prison

Apple quietly rolled out iOS 6.1.3 yesterday, which touts "improvements to Maps in Japan" and the fix of a bug "that could allow someone to bypass the passcode and access the Phone app". Nothing out of the ordinary, really. But buried deep down in the more extensive changelog, almost hidden, the fruit company credits evad3rs -- the team of developers that jailbroke iOS 6 -- for a number of found bugs.

The extensive changelog is available in Apple's mailing list and lists evad3rs as responsible for four bug findings related to the iOS dyld (dynamic link editor), kernel, lockdown and USB. The said bugs affect the way the operating system handles local user requests to "execute unsigned code", "determine the address of structures in kernel", "change permissions on arbitrary files" and "execute arbitrary code in the kernel".

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HTC unveils One Developer Edition for Android enthusiasts

HTC One DeveloperEdition

Aimed at the Android developer and modding community, Taiwanese company HTC has introduced a new iteration of the One smartphone that was introduced three weeks ago, called One Developer Edition. The two devices share the same underpinnings, except for two major changes in the software department.

The One Developer Edition is aimed at the US Android enthusiast as it features a carrier unlock and unlocked bootloader out-of-the-box, whereas the One will come without any of the two coveted specifications when purchased from local mobile operators. The price difference, however, may force you to reconsider acquiring the new iteration.

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AOKP Jelly Bean MR1 Build 5 is available

AOKP pink unicorn

Pink does really make a difference. To most people a unicorn is just an imaginary creature from children's books but add the color pink into the equation and Android enthusiasts rejoice about AOKP, one of the most popular custom Android distributions. The team behind Android Open Kang Project has released a new build, a week after the last one, sporting bug fixes, new features and support for more devices.

The AOKP developers have fixed "a really nasty memory leak" which caused the popular custom Android distribution to randomly reboot. A side-effect of squashing the bug is increased speed in navigating the lockscreen. Jelly Bean MR1 Build 5 introduces support for six new devices, for a total of 28 as of the latest release.

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Verizon Samsung Galaxy Nexus, meet Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean

Galaxy Nexus

Little less than a week ago, after replying to tweets from disgruntled users, Verizon revealed that the Galaxy Nexus will "soon" receive a software update. The big red did not provide any specifics and, judging by its past track record, "soon" means "months down the road" as updates usually roll out with the speed of a snail cruising down the highway in rush-hour traffic.

But great news! Well, sort of. Less than a month after Google rolled out Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean for the other Nexus devices, the Verizon-branded Galaxy Nexus has also received the latest iteration of the green droid operating system albeit via an OTA (Over-The-Air) update file. The OTA update was uncovered by enthusiasts, but comes straight from Google's servers which means that it might hit all devices "soon" (as Verizon likes to say).

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CyanogenMod 10.1 M2 -- second monthly release -- is available

CyanogenMod logo

We've had to wait a tad longer than expected, but it's finally here. The team behind the popular custom Android distribution CyanogenMod unveiled the second monthly release based on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, more than a month after the last build.

Like it usually happens with monthly builds, with CyanogenMod 10.1 M2 the focus is on stability improvements rather than introducing numerous new features that have yet to pass rigorous testing. As a result some of the latest features found in nightly builds may be left behind for future monthly releases in order to provide a custom Android distribution suited for daily-driver use.

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Team Win Recovery Project releases TWRP

Android customization workman

Little less than a week after the last build, Team Win Recovery Project has released a new version of the popular custom Android recovery TWRP. The newest iteration features a number of bug fixes and general improvements.

TWRP touts fixing the persistence of the 24 hour time setting, which was introduced alongside TWRP, the loading of the screen timeout setting during start-up, the file selector crash (which is attributed to the multi-threaded design of TWRP), as well as two bugs related to restores. For users who have encountered issues with restoring backups, the functionality should work as intended with the latest version.

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Official Superuser app available for rooted Android devices


Koushik Dutta, the developer behind Android apps like Carbon, ROM Manager and the popular ClockworkMod custom recovery, has released a new open-source root access management app called Superuser.

Explaining the reason for making it open-source, Dutta says that in his opinion a root access management app should be open to "independent security analysis" and that "obscurity (closed source) is not security". He also places a great deal of value on making the app "AOSP buildable" so that developers can include it in custom Android distributions.

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