Android - Extend your Phone Battery Life

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Latest Android smartphones are becoming as powerful as standard computer. They host multiple cores processor, RAM in Gb, ... They are also providing huge screen size, reaching 5'' or more.

Even if these high end features are very comfortable in day to day use, they have a huge drawback : they are draining your battery at high speed.

For example, under normal usage, a Nexus 5 battery won't last more than one full working day. In fact, the embedded battery is not a heavy duty one as it holds only 2300 mAh (200 mAh more than previous Nexus 4). Snapdragon processor and the large 5'' screen are drawing most of the battery power.

Thanks to some very efficient applications, it is possible to reduce drastically your battery usage on these latest mobile phones.

This article explains what application should be installed and tuned to maximize your Android phone battery life. On some of the latest phones, according to your usage, you can expect to almost double your battery life !

Please note that these applications don't need to have a rooted phone.

Read more: Android - Extend your Phone Battery Life

Android - Extend Application Memory of your Device

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With CyanogenMod and other custom ROM is is possible to give a new life to our old phones like HTC Wildfire, HTC Chacha, ... Running modern OS like ICS or Jelly Bean, they can go back to service.

But, other than their weak processor, the main drawback of these old phones is their very limited main memory. Because of that limitation, it's almost impossible to install all needed applications.

Hopefully, with the help of Link2SD and a specific partitioning of your SD Card, all your applications can be moved to your SD card quite easily. This allows you to install as many applications as you want, straight on your SD Card, leaving your main memory untouched.

This articles explains how to partition your SD Card and how to configure Link2SD to allow you to install as many applications as you want on your old Android smartphone, even if it has a very limited amount of main memory. With Link2SD approach, instead of linking /data/app folder (you move all applications), you can select whichever application you want to move (in case of compatibility problem). You'll manage where to install your applications (main memory or SD Card) with just a few clicks.

As a pre-requisite, your phone needs to be rooted. As you will need to partition your SD Card, the best is to have a modern version of ClockWorkMod Recovery installed as it will do the partitioning job straight from your phone. Otherwise, a Linux computer will be needed to to the partitioning job.

Read more: Android - Extend Application Memory of your Device

HTC Chacha - Give it new life with CyanogenMod 10.1 under Ubuntu

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I recently recovered an old HTC Chacha as a spare phone and I decided to give it a new birth with latest CyanogenMod 10.1.

With HTC policy toward developpers, its now possible unlock its bootloader directly with HTC procedure available on HTDDev Unlock Bootloader official site.

The procedure is not that simple, especially if you don't have any Windows OS under the hood.

In fact, you need to upgrade your phone bootloader with one of these HTC specific RUU.exe files, which is not supported under Linux. But, as always under Linux, some people made it possible ...

This guide explains how to convert your bootloader locked HTC Chacha mobile phone to a CyanogenMod 10.1 device, by using only a Linux computer, without the help of any proprietary OS.

Read more: HTC Chacha - Give it new life with CyanogenMod 10.1 under Ubuntu

Nexus 4 - Root, Remove Ads & Extend Battery Life under Ubuntu

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If you want to root your Google Nexus 4, a lot of stuff is available on the net from different sites and forums.

nexus4-front

But most of the guides you get are using some tools running under Windows.

Obviously, you can do the same from an Ubuntu workstation, but all the steps are not trivial.

So, this article will explain all the steps needed to :
 * Setup udev to properly recognise your Nexus 4
 * OEM unlock it
 * Install TWRP custom Recovery
 * Root the phone
 * Enable USB Debugging mode

 

The complete procedure has been tested with a Google Nexus 4 running Jelly Bean 4.2.2 or Kitkat 4.4.2 from a Ubuntu Precise LTS 12.04 computer.

As a pre-requisite, you must have latest Android SDK or latest ADB package installed on your computer. An installation guide is available for Ubuntu computers.

Read more: Nexus 4 - Root, Remove Ads & Extend Battery Life under Ubuntu

Nexus 5 - Root, Remove Ads & Extend Battery Life under Ubuntu

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If you want to root your Google Nexus 5, a lot of stuff is available on the net from different sites and forums.

nexus5-front

But most of the guides you get are using some tools running under Windows and focus on a specific goal : root the phone, optimize battery life or tweak usage.

This article explains all the steps needed to :
 * Setup udev to properly recognise your Nexus 5
 * OEM unlock it
 * Install TWRP custom Recovery
 * Root the phone
 * Install an ads blocker
 * Extend its battery life

 

The complete procedure has been tested with a Google Nexus 5 running Kitkat 4.4.2 from a Ubuntu Saucy 13.10 computer.

As a pre-requisite, you must have latest Android SDK or latest ADB package installed on your computer. An installation guide is available for Ubuntu computers.

Read more: Nexus 5 - Root, Remove Ads & Extend Battery Life under Ubuntu

Nexus S - Jelly Bean 4.2.2 and Photosphere

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With the arrival of Jelly Bean 4.2, Google Nexus S has been left on the side of the road by Google, which has decided not to provide JB 4.2 update for this phone.

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Hopefully, thanks to the CyanogenMod team, Nexus S has been one of the first device to get CM 10.1, which is based on Jelly Bean 4.2.2.

The only bad news about it is that the Google Apps provided for CM 10.1 don't install PhotoSphere on devices like Nexus S.

But, some people have been able to extract the proper applications and libraries from official JB 4.2 devices to get PhotoSphere installed on other devices.

So, this article explains all the steps needed to flash CM 10.1, Google Apps & PhotoSphere on a rooted Nexus S.

It provides the PhotoSphere package that needs to be flashed on the top of Google Apps.

 

A pre-requisite is to have rooted your Nexus S and installed a Recovery like ClockWorkMod or TWRP. If needed, a step-by-step rooting guide is available from this site.

Read more: Nexus S - Jelly Bean 4.2.2 and Photosphere

Nexus 4 - Upgrade your Rooted Phone to Kitkat keeping all your Data

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nexus4-kitkatIf your Nexus 4 is rooted and using a custom recovery, latest Kitkat OTA update may completly crash your phone. This is what has happened to mine two days ago ...

If you really want to try the OTA update, make sure you've done a complete ROM backup with your recovery. It may save your data !

Otherwise, this article explains how to safely upgrade your rooted Nexus 4 running a rooted stock Jelly Bean 4.3 and a custom recovery to the latest Kitkat 4.4 without losing your data. As a result, you'll have upgraded your Nexus 4 the same way as with an OTA update. 

It is using ADB tools and latest factory image published by Google.

As a pre-requisite, you must have latest Android SDK or latest ADB package installed on your computer. An installation guide is available for Ubuntu computers.

It has been tested on a Ubuntu 12.04 computer, but it should work on any computer with an operational ADB setup.

Read more: Nexus 4 - Upgrade your Rooted Phone to Kitkat keeping all your Data

Android - Use your phone as a Handheld GPS Navigator with Offline Maps

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Going for some trekking in the far Himalaya, I'm planning to use my Android phone and My Tracks application as a Handheld GPS Navigator. This will allow me to keep track of the complete journey maps and statistics.

My Tracks is a very neat and simple Google application that keeps track of your complete journey. It is using your phone's GPS and Google Maps to draw the real time map of the journey. One main drawback of using Google Maps for this purpose is that it is using the data connection to retrieve the maps data from Google servers when needed. As 3G connection may not be available when I'm lost in the Himalayan peaks, the whole chain may be broken ...

Hopefully, even if Google Maps for Android doesn't officially include a caching feature to use maps offline, latest version includes the "Ok maps" easter egg that allows you to save current map for offline use. So it then becomes possible to preload your journey maps to be able to use My Tracks as a offline Navigator.

This article explains how to use hidden Google Maps caching feature to save offline maps and to use them with My Tracks when 3G data connection is not available. Your Android phone will then become a complete Handheld GPS Navigator.

It has been tested on a Nexus 4 running Jelly Bean 4.3 and Maps 7.1. It should work on any Android device running latest version of Google Maps.

Read more: Android - Use your phone as a Handheld GPS Navigator with Offline Maps

Android - Share your SFR 3G Data Plan

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If you are having a SFR Illimythics or Carre unlimited data plan, you must have realized that the standard Android Wifi Hotspot is almost unusable with your other devices. You can connect to your Wifi Hotspot but all the pages are blank !

This comes from the fact that operators like SFR decided to block internet connection sharing by analysing all the data you send and by checking the User Agent declared by your browser. If the User Agent is known and accepted by the operator, the packet is carried. If not it is simply dropped. You will then get a blank page on your browser.

With a Postal comparison, its like if your postal service is starting to read every letter you send and decides to carry it or not according to what you have written ! Unbelievable … but true.

This behaviour comes from the business model mobile operators are trying to build : they expect to be able to shave an egg ! When they sell you an unlimited 3G mobile data plan for your smartphone, they want to sell you a second one for your tablet, a third one for your laptop, … This is highly logical as everybody knows that with two hands and two eyes you can surf on four devices at the same time !

Hopefully, this can be circumvented with a very simple tool : Firefox. This article explains the simple steps needed to be able to bypass SFR User Agent filtering which blocks connexion sharing. It works with any device running Firefox browser. You will then be able to use Android inbuilt Wifi Hotspot feature as it was always supposed to be used.

This connexion sharing has been tested with devices running Firefox 19+ under Ubuntu 12.04, Windows 7 and Android 4.2.

Read more: Android - Share your SFR 3G Data Plan

Nexus 7 - Connect to internet using a CDMA or 3G USB key

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Google Nexus 7 is the real today's travellers tablet, as it's size is perfect to carry it everywhere. But it only offers Wifi connectivity, which can be too limited when you are on the move.

As Google Nexus 7 is providing a fully featured OTG USB port, it can be used to connect a CDMA or 3G key to the tablet. You just need an OTG cable (easily available nowadays) to connect your Mobile Data USB key.

With the help of a fantastic widget called PPP Widget, available from Play Store, you can then create a PPP connexion thru your connected USB key.

This PPP connexion will open a fully working internet connexion.

This guide explains how to configure your Google Nexus 7 tablet to be able to connect it to internet thru a CDMA or 3G USB key.

It has been tested on Jelly Beans 4.1.2 with two different Data Keys :

  • CDMA - Tata Photon Plus (EC156 model)
  • 3G - Huawei Mobile Connect E180
Read more: Nexus 7 - Connect to internet using a CDMA or 3G USB key

Slidepad 704ce - ICS 4.0 : Root, Tweaks and Google Play

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Memup Slidepad 704ce is a very affordable Android 7' tablet with a Allwinner A13 SoC (Cortex A8 processor), 4 Gb flash memory, 512 Mb RAM, a microSD connector and a fully working micro USB OTG port.

If you have the chance to follow one of the excellent CiLevel executive training course, this is the tablet you will get as a T-Book.

This tablet is shipped in 2 versions : Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.4 and Jelly Bean 4.1.1.

Mine was ICS 4.0.4. Its main drawback were that  it is not pre-rooted & it doesn't include Google Play Store (only the lousy Getjar).
The version under Jelly Bean 4.1.1 comes with Google Apps pre-installed.

So, this article explains all the steps needed to root a Slidepad 704ce under ICS 4.0.4  and to install the complete Google Apps framework. After these steps, your will get a very nice little tablet with all the possibilities of Google Play Store (Gmail, Maps, ...). If your Slidepa 704ce is running JB 4.1.1 or if you want to upgrade it to JB 4.1.1, another guide is available at Slidepad 704ce - Jelly Bean 4.1.1 : Root your tablet.

Memup Slidepad 704ce seems to be the same hardware as Cybo MID7032. So, this procedure should be applicable to MID7032 (and to many other tablets embedding an A13 SoC).  If you get any success with other models, just let me know, so that I can add it in this article.

This procedure has been done to be run on a Ubuntu workstation, but it should be easily adapted to any other Linux flavour, and even to a Windows PC. As a pre-requisite, you need to Install Android tools on your Ubuntu box.

Read more: Slidepad 704ce - ICS 4.0 : Root, Tweaks and Google Play

Slidepad 704ce - CWM Recovery and Fastboot mode

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If you are having a Slidepad 704ce tablet running a rooted ICS 4.0.4 or a rooted JB 4.1.1, next step is to install ClockWorkMod Recovery.

It will allow you to do complete system backup & restore, to flash an alternative firmware, to format the Nand partitions, ...

Another interesting tweak with this tablet is to access FastBoot, which is not available straight from boot.

This article explains how to access the hidden FastBoot menu and how to install a specific port of CWM compatible with our A13 tablet.

This procedure has been done to be run on a Ubuntu workstation, but it should be easily adapted to any other Linux flavour, and even to a Windows PC.
As a pre-requisite, you need to Install Android tools on your Ubuntu box.

Read more: Slidepad 704ce - CWM Recovery and Fastboot mode

Slidepad 704ce and 704cet - JB 4.1.1 : Root your Tablet

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Memup Slidepad 704ce / 704cet are very affordable Android 7' tablets with a Allwinner A13 SoC (Cortex A8 processor), 4 Gb flash memory, 512 Mb RAM, a microSD connector and a fully working micro USB OTG port.

Memup posted on their web site some new Jelly Bean 4.1.1 firmware version for these 2 tablets. This firmware is flashable thru a tool provided in the firmware archive called LiveSuit. For Slidepad 704 ce, the Jelly Bean firmware version runs very well, it is much smoother than previous ICS build.

But main drawback of these firmware is that they are not pre-rooted.

On Slidepad 704ce, I tried to flash a signed version of SuperSU from the stock recovery (3e). It has been accepted, but it didn't flash the /system partition. Any unsigned upate has been refused by the stock recovery. Then I tried with no luck to root the tablet with latest ICS/JB adb restore exploit.

As no other exploits are available at this time for Jelly Bean, what to do ? To stay with an unrooted tablet ? Too sad ... As Santa Claus says : If the door is closed, enter by the window. If the window is closed, enter by the chimney :-)

So I decided to try the hard way : by cooking the original Memup ROM to include ClockWorkMod Recovery natively. This allows to root it by flashing an unsigned su update. And after lots of efforts, it worked !

LiveSuit only runs on Windows OS. The following guide has been run from a Windows XP computer.

So, let's start ...

Read more: Slidepad 704ce and 704cet - JB 4.1.1 : Root your Tablet

Slidepad 704ce - Modify the Root filesystem (root logo, ...)

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When doing some tweaks on your android device, you may need to change some parameters on the root filesystem. For example you may have to modify /init.rc, /init.sun5i.rc, /initlogo.rle or your root logo /initlogo.rle (the second one displayed in the boot process).

You will then quickly realise that whatever change you will do on these files will be lost after every reboot, even if you do it as root.

This comes from the fact that on android devices the root filesystem is mounted as a initramfs. So it is unpacked and mounted into RAM at every boot. Whatever change you do is done in RAM only.

So to make permanent changes to your root filesystem, you need to modify the files whithin the initrd.img file used during the boot process.

This guide will explain how to extract Root image from Slidepad 704ce

  1. unpack it & extract initrd files
  2. change the boot logo
  3. repack the modified initrd files
  4. flash back the root image on the device

It has been specifically designed for Slidepad 704ce, but it should be applicable to any device powered by A10 or A13 Allwinner SoC.

Read more: Slidepad 704ce - Modify the Root filesystem (root logo,...)

Slidepad 704ce - Modify the Bootloader (boot logo, ...)

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When doing some tweaks on your android device, you may need to change some parameters on the bootloader, for example the first boot logo (the second one is in the root filesystem).

The bootloader filesystem in a vfat filesystem and it is recorded in /dev/block/nanda.

This article will explain all the steps to make permanent changes to your bootloader :

  1. extract bootloader image from Slidepad 704ce
  2. mount it as a vfat filesystem
  3. change the boot logo (for example)
  4. unmount the vfat filesystem
  5. flash back the updated bootloader on the device

It has been specifically designed for Slidepad 704ce, but it should be applicable to many devices powered by A10 or A13 Allwinner SoC.

Read more: Slidepad 704ce - Modify the Bootloader (boot logo,...)

Slidepad 704ce - JB 4.1.1 : Tweaks for Rooted Tablet

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Once you have rooted your Slidepad 704ce following Slidepad 704ce - Jelly Bean 4.1.1 : Root your tablet you have opened the gate to unlimited modifications of your device.

This article will explain some simple tweaks that should enhance your android experience on the Slidepad 704ce.

It will explain how to :

  • update your tablet identification & framework to have a full access to Play Store
  • change your tablet DIP to maximize the screen display
  • tweak Google Search and You Tube incompatibilities

This procedure has been done to be run on a Ubuntu workstation, but it should be easily adapted to any other Linux flavour, and even to a Windows PC.

As a pre-requisite, you need to Install Android tools on your Ubuntu box.

Read more: Slidepad 704ce - JB 4.1.1 : Tweaks for Rooted Tablet

Slidepad 704ce - Cook your own ROM

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Slidepad 704ce is based on a Allwinner A13 SingleOnChip. The ROM cooking procedure of Allwinner A10 & A13 devices is done thru 3 main steps :

  1. Extraction of original firmware (under Windows)
  2. Modification of filesystem components (under Linux)
  3. Assembly of final firmware (under Windows)

The filesystem components that may be modified are typically :

  • the bootloader
  • the root filesystem
  • the recovery filesystem
  • the /system filesystem

This article will explain the simple steps needed to cook a new ROM for a Slidepad 704ce. This process needs 2 different computer environments :

  • Windows for ROM extraction and repacking
  • Ubuntu for filesystem modifications (but any other Linux flavour should do).

It has been specifically written for Slidepad 704ce ROM cooking, but it should be applicable to many (if not any) Allwinner A10 or A13 SoC devices.

Read more: Slidepad 704ce - Cook your own ROM

Nexus S - Phone painfully slow after ICS or JB OTA update

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If you have bought your Nexus S smartphone outside of any operator pack, you are getting regular Other The Air updates straight from Google.

For example, when I bought mine 9 months back, it was running Gingerbread 2.3.6. Then I got OTA updates for :

Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.4 : After that update, my phone was showing some strange behaviour mostly on the desktop screen.
Sometimes some parts of the screen where not refreshed, some fonts where becoming bold, ...

Jelly Bean 4.1.1 : After that update, my phone became extremely slow.
For example, I was sometimes left 5 seconds on a white screen while entering the SMS application.
Same type of behaviour entering Gmail, ...

These problems come most of the time from the phone's system caches that might have been corrupted by the OTA update.

The clue is to purge these cache. After this operation, you will rediscover your Nexus S in full speed. Jelly Bean will be blazing fast.

This operations needs your phone to be rooted. If your phone is already rooted you won't loose any data, it's totally transparent.
But if your phone is not rooted, you'll need to root it first and it will wipe all your data.

Read more: Nexus S - Phone painfully slow after ICS or JB OTA update

Nexus S - Get rid of Recovery boot failure

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This tutorial supposes that you have already rooted your Nexus S phone.

As rooting process involves flashing a new recovery, you will realize that after you've rebooted your system at least once under ICS, your favorite recovery is not accessible anymore thru fastboot menu.

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Instead of your favorite recovery, you will get a nice picture of Android on the back with an exclamation mark in a red triangle.

At this stage, your phone is stuck, you can only reboot it by removing the battery or wait for a very long time till it reboots by itself !

In fact, at every boot, your android system replaces your TWRP recovery with that ... dead end.

This article explains how to get rid of that real bad behaviour and to be able to enter your favorite TWRP recovery anytime you need it, without reflashing it.

This procedure has been tested on a Nexus S running Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.4 and Jelly Bean 4.1.

The OTA update from ICS to JB rewrite the faulty file !
So, after a Jelly Bean OTA update, you need to re-root your Nexus S and to apply this procedure once again.

Read more: Nexus S - Get rid of Recovery boot failure

Nexus 7 - Root your tablet with Ubuntu Linux

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If you want to root your Google Nexus 7, a lot of stuff is available on the net from different sites and forums.

nexus7-front-panel

But most of the guides you get are using some tools running under Windows.

Obviously, you can do the same from an Ubuntu workstation, but all the steps are not trivial.

So, this article will explain all the steps needed to :
 * have your Nexus 7 tablet properly recognised by udev
 * OEM unlock it
 * install TWRP touch recovery
 * root it
 * protect your recovery image from removal

 

The complete procedure has been tested with a Google Nexus 7 running ICS 4.0.3, Jelly Bean 4.1.1, 4.2 and 4.2.1 from a Ubuntu Precise LTS 12.04 computer.

As a pre-requisite, you need to Install latest Android tools on your Ubuntu box.

Read more: Nexus 7 - Root your tablet with Ubuntu Linux

Nexus S - Root your phone with Ubuntu Linux

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If you want to root your Google Nexus S, a lot of stuff is available on the net from different sites and forums.

nexus-s-front

But most of the stuff you get on the net is oriented toward using Windows tools.

Obviously you can handle all the needed steps from an Ubuntu workstation.

But all different steps are not trivial to setup and follow.

This article will explain all the steps needed to :
 * have your phone properly recognised by udev
 * OEM unlock it
 * install TWRP touch recovery
 * root it

The complete procedure has been tested on a Google Nexus S with Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.4 and Jelly Bean 4.1.1 from a Ubuntu Precise 12.04 computer.

As a pre-requisite, you need to Install Android Tools on your Ubuntu box.

Read more: Nexus S - Root your phone with Ubuntu Linux

HTC Wildfire - Flash your phone from HTC Sense to CyanogenMod AOSP

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This guide explains how to convert your HTC Wildfire mobile phone running Android with HTC Sense to a brand new Gingerbread Android Open Source Project smartphone.

HTC Wildfire

But, you may ask : Why to do so ?

Some of the answers may be :

 * to get rid of the Sense user interface
 * to upgrade the phone to the latest Android 2.3.4 branch (Gingerbread)
 * to get a very fast & responsive phone
 * to feel like a real geek :-)
 * to have fun ...

 

All the following steps will be done with a Ubuntu workstation.You won't need any proprietary operating system at any stage.

I will use an Android ROM called CyanogenMod 7.1 from the Cyanogen project.

This ROM is straight from the AOSP project and has been tested to be very stable and very responsive on the HTC Wildfire.

Read more: HTC Wildfire - Flash your phone from HTC Sense to CyanogenMod AOSP

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