for those of us that love to flash roms on our android phones there is a new one that has the potential to be awesome – its Firefox OS. At this point, you cannot download it but when it becomes available I will be trying it out. I think if mozilla wants to have a chance they need to make phones with firefox os that are unlocked, inexpensive without contracts, and will work on all major carriers.
Android Roms are different versions of the operating system that one can install when rooted. What are the best? Well its really a matter of opinion but the most popular are by far Cyanogenmod and AOKP. I personally like AOKP and I have used cyanogenmod, aokp, paranoid android, pacman, and carbon. After using all of these I kept going back to AOKP. That is my preference though and downloads for them can be found here http://goo.im/home. Here are a few sites that discuss the features of each:
Infographics showing the features of:
*Note that pacman is not discussed in any of these. It is simply a combination of cmod, aokp, and paranoid. It is awesome but I was only using the aokp features it offered so I figured I would just switch back to the stock aokp.
Here is my presentation I will be using today at the GLTC Conference in Wilmington NC
Now that you have rooted there are many things you can do but one of the biggest is flashing a new rom. What does this mean exactly? It mean installing a new operating system on your phone. You can find these online in many different places like rootzwiki and xda. So if wanted the latest version on android you can get it. Now a few recommendations before you flash a new rom:
1. Back up your current OS by creating a nandroid. This will vary depending on the type of recovery rom you have installed. I personally prefer clockworkmod.
2. Find a good ROM. I have tried about 10 different. The most popular are cyanogenmod (cm or cmod) and AOKP. Here is a good article that breaks these down
3. Install it and have fun.
4. Once you flashed the rom remember to install the latest gapps package. This refers to google apps such as gmail, etc.
If you are curious how to flash a rom this depends on your phone and recovery software you have installed. For most phones you will boot into recovery and flash away.
There are a million reasons why you should and should not root your android phone. I am going to go through some of the more popular reasons now. In a later post I will go through how to root your phone and what to do once you are rooted.
1. Get rid of bloatware – unless you bought a nexus phone it will come preinstalled with tons of extra software that you may or may not actually need. This is referred to as bloatware as it bloats your system and can actually slow it down. Why not let me choose what software I want on it? With rooting you can choose what you want. I would root just for this reason alone. Then again I would never buy a droid unless it was a nexus device:)
2. Get the latest updates – when you root you can get the latest version of android within days of it being released. If you are not rooted you might actually never get the update. Only a very small % of phones are updated to the latest version of android out there. Do you know why your phone is not updated? It would require samsung/lg/etc to work on the operating system and test it on your phone. Why do they care to that if you phone is already 6 months old and they are focused on the newer ones that replaced it already?
3. Apps – Yes there are tons of cool apps out there that will not work unless you phone is rooted. However I will admit this isnt much of a concern for most people
4. Use cyanogenmod or AOKP or Baked Beans (among many others) – what does this even mean? These are groups that have taken the android operating system and improved it. If you are rooted you can install their version on your phone. They offer tons of great options and themes. For example putting the battery % on the notification bar, weather, or date. Basically allowing you to do whatever you would like.
5. A very advanced feature – access to the phones internal controls. If you do not know what that means just ignore this as a feature until you are ready to test it out.
Why Not to Root:
1. Voids warranty. If you are unsure you might want to wait until your warranty runs out. However remember you can unroot.
2. Brick – if you brick your phone (ie break it) you are out of luck. However its not very easy to do.
3. Nexus – if you have a nexus you might not really need to root. You have stock android to begin with and should get your updates fairly fast.
4. Rooted apps coming to non rooted devices – in some cases this is happening so some of the great features rooted users have always enjoyed are now on regular devices such as a wifi hot spot.
A .keystore file is needed when creating Android Apps. In order to create one (if you are not using Eclipse) do the following: One would do this for software like Adobe PhoneGap and its very easy to do on both the Mac and PC. Here are the steps:
1. Open up terminal (unix/dos dialog box). On the Mac this is under applications->utilities->terminal on the PC its under Start->Programs->Accessories. It will simply be a command prompt for you to type.
2. Type the following (you cannot copy/paste):
keytool –genkey –v –keystore my-release-key.keystore –alias alias_name –keyalg RSA –keysize 2048 –validity 10000
a. You need to change my-release-key.keystore to your own file name. So it could by like: raypastore.keystore if I wanted. This will be your file name.
b. alias_name should be changed to another name as well. PLEASE REMEMBER THIS. You will more than likely need this to use your .keystore file.
3. Press enter. You will be prompted with a few questions asking your name and such. Please remember your password.
4. Use the file. You will need your alias name and password. If you have trouble finding the created file just do a file search for .keystore and it will come up.
Check out Google new Android Device Manager. You can use it to locate your phone, lock it, erase it, and make it ring. This is an awesome service for those of you with droid that used to use apps to do this.
Great article discussing the advantages of Apple’s new 64 bit OS:
“How does 64-bit help Apple?
Here’s how going 64-bit makes sense for the iPhone 5S, and for Apple’s mobile devices going forward.
Memory: Mobile devices aren’t facing the 4GB barrier yet. (Game consoles weren’t either: the Playstation 4 and Xbox One will be the first to ship with more than 4GB of memory.) The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 currently has the most RAM in a mobile device, packing in 3GB pretty much just so Samsung can show off. In comparison, the iPhone 5 – along with the new iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S – sport only 1GB of RAM. The iPhone 4 and 4s have 512MB. One reason for that is that RAM has to be on all the time, consuming precious battery power. Right now, Apple does not need a 64-bit chip to handle memory.
However, the iPhone and iPad may reach or surpass the 4GB threshold in the next two or three years. If so, developers will have been building 64-bit iOS software for years by the time iPads, iPhones, and any other iDevices have require a 64-bit architecture. That’s a good way to ensure a seamless transition for customers.
Speed: The iPhone 5S does get performance benefits from going 64-bit. Early results from iPhone 5S review units tested with Primate Labs’ Geekbench tool (nods to private sources, AnandTech and Daring Fireball) for measuring processor performance show:
- The iPhone 5S 64-bit mode outperformed 32-bit mode by up to 25 percent. That means most apps will get a free performance boost just for recompiling to 64-bit.
- The iPhone 5S processor is about twice as fast as the iPhone 5 in everything but memory access (that’s 1.4x faster).
“Converting to 64-bit offers a performance improvement on the order of 10 to 20 percent,” said Kevin Krewell, senior editor of Microprocessor Report. ”The part that isn’t separable is that we have a new chip in the A7, and the A7 is much faster than the A6. Just the architecture of the chip has much better performance, in and above the change to 64-bit.”
The 64-bit A7 isn’t just a marketing stunt. It delivers real performance benefits for apps right now. Apple builds further on those benefits by converting all of iOS 7 to 64-bit for the iPhone 5S – and for any future 64-bit devices (cough iPad 5 cough) that come along. That means iOS 7 – along with core apps like Safari, Mail, Photos, Maps, and Siri – all wring the most benefits from 64-bit performance, and some of those components improve performance for third-party apps as well.
Fancy Features: The 64-bit architecture used in the A7 makes Apple’s new Touch ID fingerprint scanning technology possible, thanks to its encrypted on-chip security. Sure, a few smartphones have offered fingerprint readers (like the Motorola Atrix 4G) but no one has pushed the technology to the level Apple’s trying to achieve. Touch ID not only has a sophisticated biometric sensor, but Apple is integrating (optional) biometric security deep into its processor. That’s unprecedented. It also means Touch ID will never be available for 32-bit iOS devices – it’s a high-profile, front-and-center feature that’s 64-bit only. Assuming Touch ID survives countless attacks (from both security experts and hackers) and everyday users embrace it (early reviews are promising), expect the tech behind it, called Secure Enclave, to become central to the iOS experience. Coming next: Passbook and mobile payments.”
For more of the article read here: http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/iphone-5s-64-bit-a7-processor/
For those like myself who still have unlimited data and refuse to let it go, here are your options:
Option 1: Buy at Full Retail
If you’d like to keep unlimited data going forward on Verizon, all you need to do is continue to buy phones at full retail. This means paying $500-$650 for top tier 4G LTE Android phones, so that you don’t have to sign a contract. You see, as you sign contracts, that’s when Verizon has the power to take away your current unlimited data plan and force you into something you aren’t going to be satisfied with. If you buy at full retail, all you need to do is then slap your current SIM card into the new phone and continue to enjoy your current monthly plan. Since there is no upfront discount or contract signing, you get an expensive new phone on the same data plan you already had.
This is probably the least attractive option upfront for most consumers to choose, since it’s the most expensive, but we still feel that it’s your best overall. If you can force yourself to save up for phones and pay for them at full retail once your contract has run out, not only are you then keeping unlimited data, but you are also turning your account status to “month-to-month,” which means Verizon no longer has control over you. With a month-to-month account, you can walk away at any time without having to pay an ETF (early termination fee).
The best place to order phones at full retail from Verizon is through the Iconic Portal.
Option 2: Steal Another Line’s Upgrade
If you have more than one line on your Verizon account, the easiest way to keep unlimited data is to steal or transfer upgrades between lines and then use the newly purchased phones on your line with the unlimited data. Let me try to explain further, as there are details you don’t want to miss.
If you have multiple lines on an account, Verizon will let you take upgrades and transfer them between lines as long as the transfer is going from phone to phone. For example, my situation looks like this – 3 line account, two have unlimited data, with a third setup as a feature phone that runs me $9.99 per month. Since I keep my phones on a month-to-month status for the most part, I almost always have an upgrade available on one of my two unlimited data lines. So should I want to upgrade one of those two unlimited lines and keep unlimited data, all I need to do is transfer my upgrade over to that feature phone line and use the upgrade for a new smartphone.
There are a couple of ways to do this. The first would be to walk into a store, tell a sales rep that you have an upgrade to use, but don’t want to lose unlimited data. So you are going to transfer your upgrade to a different line, use the upgrade there, and then actually use the phone on an unlimited data line. They should be able to walk you through the process with no problem, just make sure when paperwork and signatures are flying around, that your unlimited data line isn’t being touched. They may have to add, remove, or tweak a data package on the line that you are technically using the upgrade for, but again, just make sure no changes are happening to your unlimited line. If you are like me, and use a feature phone line for upgrades to keep unlimited data, you can always remove a data package and return that line to a feature phone line of $9.99 per month once the entire process is all sorted out and your new phone is running on your unlimited line.
The second method involves ordering a phone online from Verizon’s store. To begin, you need to transfer an upgrade to a line that you don’t care that much about (a feature phone or tiered data line). You can transfer upgrades in the dashboard through My Verizon. Once you have the upgrade transferred to a non-unlimited data line (could be a feature phone line), you walk through the ordering process with that line, buy a phone, and likely deal with some sort of smartphone data package add-on (likely 2GB for $30).
Once the phone arrives, some recommend that you activate it on that feature phone/other line temporarily using the instructions that arrive with the phone. Be aware that this will also temporarily activate the previously mentioned smartphone data package. After activating, you will then need to call customer service to get the feature phone placed back in the system on that line as a $9.99 feature phone. This will kill off the 2GB $30 smartphone plan you just had on there and return your account to its previous state. Once that has been completed, grab the SIM card from your current phone with unlimited data and place it in the new smartphone that you would like to use on your unlimited line.
This may seem like a lot of work, and I’m not 100% sure those extra steps are needed, but it is a proven method. Should you receive your new phone and activate it immediately on your unlimited data line without addressing the feature phone/other line, there is a chance that Verizon will take that as you using an unlimited line as an upgrade, which could in turn wipe out your unlimited data. I personally don’t think that’s possible, since you are only making changes to your feature phone line and not your unlimited line, but it’s better to play it safe.
*Note – You may be able to remove the smartphone plan on your feature phone line through your account at Verizon’s website. Also, customer service can look back through your history to find the feature phone you’d like to use over and over again, so there is no need to keep that feature phone handy.
Keep in mind that even if you transfer your upgrade to another line and then use the upgrade, you are extending your contract on the line which the upgrade originated (could be your unlimited line), not the line you transferred the upgrade to.
This is probably going to be the most commonly used, assuming you have an account with more than one line attached because it is the least expensive.
Option 3: Find an Awesome VZW Store Manager
This may sound silly, but there really are ways for managers to override systems and return your account to unlimited data after purchasing a new phone at a discounted price. I haven’t personally gone this route, but a number of readers over the last year have emailed in with their success stories from select Verizon stores and dealing with employees who help get authorization on unlimited plans. I don’t have any stores to recommend going to to keep those unlimited plans, but I’m sure readers can help you out in the comments.
Option 4: Sign-up for New Service, Cancel, and Pay the ETF
This last option for you should technically work, but it definitely sounds like a lot of work and won’t save you all that much in the end. Should you choose to go this route, this is how it could go down.
If you sign-up a new line on your account or even completely new account altogether, you could in theory buy a phone at a subsidized price for say $199, then cancel the line or account, pay an ETF (early termination fee) of $350, and come out slightly lower than a full retail priced phone. Most top tier phones run you $600 to $650 off-contract, but at $199 for the subsidized price plus $350 for an ETF, you are looking at somewhere around $550. And that’s assuming that Verizon doesn’t charge you up front for the first month’s data and minute package, an activation fee, and any other new account costs.
I know unlimited data is important, but that all sounds like one massive headache. To keep it simple and clean, save up another $100 and buy the phone outright.