If you've ever tried to update your Android phone manually, you know the process can be unnecessarily hard. There are so many steps and parts, that if one thing goes wrong, the whole process doesn't work. Recognizing this, the Android team came up with an even easier way.
The new HTC One (M8) is a large phone, no doubt about it. Still, with those BoomSound speakers, 5-inch display, and 2600mAh battery, it's a wonder they managed to cram everything in that gorgeous, unibody metal shell. By that logic, it makes sense that the M8 makes the switch from a micro-SIM card to nano-SIM to save as much space as possible.
Thanks to Samsung's One UI, we can now experience firsthand what Android 9.0 Pie has to offer flagship Galaxy devices like the Note 9, S9, and S8. Perhaps one of the best features is something we've all been clamoring for: a system-wide dark theme that gives numerous apps and UI elements a custom look without having to resort to using a third-party theme.
SoundCloud is one of the most popular music streaming services for good reason. You can upload your own music, listen to remixes from your favorite DJ, check out the latest releases from mainstream artists, and even discover new artists. But while you've always been able to listen to most songs for free, you couldn't download MP3s in the official app without paying for SoundCloud Pro — until now, that is.
If you're playing the Android version of Game of War, or pretty much any other game (including emulators), it's much easier to play using a controller. While most Android games have gamepad support built-in, others do not and require a root app like Tincore to map touches into buttons.
If you're in the market for a non-root ad-blocker, developer Julian Klode has an app that you'll definitely want to check out. It uses Android's VPN system in a similar manner to alternative apps like NetGuard and AdGuard, but it's got a new twist that should save lots of battery life in the process.
With all the talk about privacy concerns recently, Google's name keeps coming up because they are a very data-driven company. As an Android user, they know basically everything about you based on your device usage. That can easily scare some people off who are worried about their privacy and security. You do have some say in what personal data Google controls, but what if you want total control?
Nearly every connection to the internet is dependent on the Domain Name System. DNS, as it's more commonly called, translates domain names like gadgethacks.com into IP addresses, which is what network devices use to route data. The problem with DNS servers is that they don't have your privacy in mind.
Google's has expanded ARCore support to numerous Android flagships like the Galaxy S10, so if you have a compatible device, you get access to all the cool new apps that can augment the world around you. One of ARCore's most sought-after features, AR Stickers, is normally exclusive to Google's Pixel lineup, but by sideloading the Google Camera app, you can try it on any ARCore device.
After exiting the mobile market, Microsoft has redirected its efforts to better integrating their services with Android. Thanks to a partnership with Samsung, that Windows integration is even better if you have a Galaxy phone.
After months of it being exclusive to iOS devices, Google made their popular Gboard app available for Android phones and tablets last December. It's a snappy keyboard with the power of Google search built right in, which allows you to search for and share images and GIFs right from your favorite messaging app.
When it comes to rooting and modding any Android device, ADB and Fastboot commands will quickly become your two new best friends once you realize the power they have. From unlocking your bootloader to flashing any file you could ever want — if you're serious about the modding and customization game, you'll want to become acquainted with these commands as soon as possible.
There once was a time in the Android rooting scene where we couldn't rely on using a custom recovery for all of our modding needs. Manual file flashing was very popular in the early days of Android before custom recoveries started taking over. With the rise of TWRP, it seemed like there was almost no need for manual file flashers; however, they appear to be making a welcomed return in a big way.
Wi-Fi signals have limited range, so if you live in a two-story house or work in a larger office, you may have set up multiple routers or repeaters to ensure full wireless coverage. Sadly, Android handles the transition between networks pretty poorly.
The Pixel is the phone to beat when it comes to cameras, and it's largely due to software. While its hardware is solid, Google's machine learning prowess and general coding wizardry are the biggest reasons the Pixel is so good with taking photos and recording video. What this means is that if you can get the Pixel's camera software, you can replicate the Pixel camera experience on other phones.
After years of user complaints, Samsung is finally letting us remap the Bixby button without the need of a third-party app. The new feature requires One UI a simple app update to Bixby, but there's one major downside: Samsung won't let you remap the button to open other digital assistants like Amazon Echo, Microsoft Cortana, and Google Assistant. Luckily, there's an easy workaround.
Everyone's been talking about Samsung's new Galaxy S8 and S8+, but not all of the chatter is positive. The fingerprint scanner is in an awkward location, the North American variant is simply not as smooth and fluid as the international model, and Samsung Experience is nothing more than TouchWiz with a bow on it. But perhaps worst of all, user reports are starting to roll in that indicate the Galaxy S8 may have a serious problem with premature screen burn-in.
Whether we like it or not, our personal information and smartphones are tied together at the hip. The former needs the latter to deliver a personalized experience that matches our individual needs. This personal data, however, makes your phone a prime target for thieves of all sorts to turn your privacy into illicit profit.
If you pick up the Snapdragon version of your Samsung Galaxy S20, you can pretty much say bye-bye to root. With the bootloader permanently locked, you miss out on the world of rooting and the opportunity it opens up, but modifications are still possible.
If you're a fan of sleek, powerful computers and highly-customizable smartphones, then you probably own a Mac and an Android device. But the downside to this glorious hardware pairing is that it can be hard to get the software on the two devices to play nice together.
Recovery mode and download mode are useful for modding and they can come in handy in a pinch. Booting into recovery mode to do a factory reset or wipe cache fan save your Galaxy S20 from a soft brick, and entering download mode lets you install firmware with utilities like Odin and Smart Switch.
Dolby may have made a lot of Android users angry by only offering their Atmos surround sound equalizer to Lenovo and Amazon, but we all know that exclusivity is only temporary in the Android world. Thanks to worstenbrood, we now have a ported version that can be installed on any device running Android 4.3 and above.
When it comes to modding Android, there's no better tool than Team Win's TWRP custom recovery. You can use it to root your phone, flash mods like Magisk or Xposed, and even replace the entire operating system with a custom ROM like LineageOS — honestly, there's not much this utility can't do.
The first thing you'll always have to do before getting your customization game on with most phones is to unlock the bootloader. Doing so opens the true potential of the device, allowing you to root, install TWRP, Magisk, custom ROMs, and other mods. No matter your wants or needs, there's no way around it — the bootloader must be unlocked to modify the system.
For modders, there are few tools more important than TWRP. TeamWin's custom recovery makes flashing mods like Magisk, Xposed, and custom ROMs incredibly easy, and it lets you root your phone at the press of a button. On top of that, it can make complete backups of your phone in case you mess up. That's why, for Essential users, this should be the first mod you add.
Because of Android's new SafetyNet system, certain apps can now block rooted users or prevent you from accessing them altogether — but at least for now, there are still ways around these restrictions.
This past year, Facebook spent $19 billion purchasing the popular messaging app WhatsApp, and for good reason. Mark Zuckerberg isn't going to spend that type of money on just any application. WhatsApp is widely popular and frequently used by more than 500 million users worldwide, which is almost twenty percent of the Earth's population.
There's a lot of conflicting information out there when it comes to the best habits for charging a smartphone's battery, so let's clear some of that up right off the bat. Lithium ion batteries (the type used in most modern electronics) start to lose their ability to hold a charge over time, and the two biggest factors that contribute to this are excess heat and overcharging.
According to a study done by Kaspersky, 7.6% of Android users root their phones. That may not sound like a lot, but with over 2 billion Android devices out there, the math works out to over 150 million rooted phones — more than the total population of Russia, Mexico, or Japan — so root nation is an important demographic that deserves being catered to.
Despite years of user complaints, OEMs are still preinstalling third-party apps on brand new devices. Even in 2019, you'll still find plenty of phones with Facebook preinstalled. What's worse, it's installed as a system app, so it can't normally be uninstalled without root access. However, there are a few workarounds.
For the first time since its inception, the famously hidden System UI Tuner has to be unlocked in a new way. No longer can you long-press the gear icon (found in Quick Settings) until it spins and reveals the hidden settings option. With Android 9.0 Pie, there's a new workaround to reveal the menu.
The YouTube app will default to 480p playback when you first open a video. It's supposed to switch to your screen resolution a few seconds in, but this isn't always the case. The regular YouTube app doesn't let you change this behavior, but like most things with Android, there is still a way.
A custom recovery is a very powerful tool. You can flash ZIPs that modify your Android device in ways that not even root can accomplish, and of course you can use it to install custom ROMs. But when you're applying all of these cool mods, there's always a chance that something could go wrong, and you might even end up bricking your device.
Android's share intents system is great in theory, but the execution can sometimes be frustrating. When you tap the "Share" button next to a link, app, or file, you see a list of apps you can share that item with. But it seems like every time you use this function, the list of apps is in a different order — especially when it comes to the Direct Share targets at the top.
Just the fact that you own an Android device means you're privy to an entire world of third-party development. Many of the mods you'll see here on Gadget Hacks can be performed fresh out of the box, but with root and Xposed, the list grows longer. But to truly be able to take advantage of all that Android's massive development community has to offer, you'll need to have a custom recovery installed.
To help keep potential drama at bay, WhatsApp lets you delete questionable messages before the other person even sees them. If you're on the receiving end and you're curious about the deleted text, however, there's an Android app that lets you view erased messages.
Say you're out and about when suddenly you get the urge to write a strongly-worded email. You get the words down, but still feel like you could really hammer home the message with the right point of emphasis. Or maybe you just want to make absolutely sure that your recipient catches a certain detail. If you were on the mobile app, ALL CAPS was pretty much your only option other than crossing your fingers really hard.
By now, a mobile phone that isn't "smart" is about as hard to come by as a TV that isn't high definition. As a result, members of older generations who were previously reluctant to purchase a newfangled smartphone have no other choice but to cave into the more recent trends when their old device finally breaks down.
With great power comes great responsibility, and when it comes to modding Android, nothing is more powerful than TWRP custom recovery. As easy as it is to replace your phone's entire OS with a custom ROM, when things go awry, you can also be left with no operating system at all.
Update (February 2019): The methods below will help on older Android versions, but we've recently revisited this topic. So if you have a newer Android phone and you want to get rid of Google, head here.