Creating your first Android Icon Pack

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Creating your first Android Icon Pack

app icon

Notiflux a youtube fan contacted me the other day to see if i would like some custom Icons to go with my RootJunky logo and colors. I told him, I would love it.  From there Notiflux created me some awesome icons using Gimp a photo editing program. You can also use programs like Paint.net and Adobe Photoshop which is my favorite. With these cool new icons in hand I had to take on the task of creating a Icon Pack App for them.

 

paint.net

Creating your first Android Icon Pack can be a little challenging but I hope that this post will help you along the way. One of the first things you need to do it download and install the Android SDK which is included in Android StudioAfter installing Android Studio you will need to update the Android SDK to get the latest version, check this post for help.  NOTE  I used Eclipse to build my apps as that is want i am use to but if you are just getting started it is highly recommend to use Android Studio. 

eclipse

Creating your first Android Icon Pack is really easy if you use Apex Icon Pack Sample as your template. This is really helpful in getting everything to need setup and running.  Open Android Studio or Eclipse and Import the Sample app. Once done you can go ahead and make some quick edits to it and have your own icon pack app.  While editing I have found it easier to look at the XML files instead of the Graphical layout or resource views, its is much more logical this way.

A couple really good recourse to help you in editing the Apex Icon Pack Sample can be found Here and Here. The main files that you will be editing are the files in folder RES and SRC the rest of these files can me left alone for the most part. You can put your edited Icons in the drawable-xhdpi folder. Once you have make all your edits you can either run the app on a connected phone over adb or you can export the app to a APK file and then install it on any device you want to.

It you have a day or to to read through all the this information and get a Icon Pack of your own, it can really be a lot of fun. Use your imagination and there is no telling what awesome things you might create. If you would like to Check out my Icon Pack that works with a bunch of Android home launchers like Apex and Nova click here and you can download it from the Google Play Store.

Extra Credit

Link to the files i used in my app can be found here, should be a great help if you need to compare some code like i did.

RootJunkySDL.com

Thanks to Notiflux for all his help

RootJunky Out

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Discovering the Hidden Power of Android

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How to harness the full power of your Android devices.

 

Android Devices today are very powerful; many of them have faster processors than your 5 year old laptop, and a higher screen resolution than that old 480p tv you bought 10 years ago. But even today, we are still faced with the fact that there are just some things that you cannot do on a smartphone that you can do on a laptop. Things like using a keyboard and mouse, or a wired controller, or being able to get into the main filesystem of your device etc. But today I am going to be showing you a few neat tricks that you can use to make these things possible.

 

Keyboard and mouse support using an OTG cable

Have you ever wanted to use your phone like a computer, to write that book report, or important document you are working on? But then you realize that your phone does not have a usb port to actually support this feature? Well all is not lost, because there is a way to make this possible. You can use a USB OTG cable to harness the power of using a keyboard, and mouse and to plug in usb drives to Android. Not only are these cables very useful, they are very cheap, some selling for just a few dollars depending where you get them from. They are very easy to find on Ebay.com and Amazon.com.

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Best of all, you do not have to do much of anything to get this working, since android already has this support of keyboards and mice built in. As for usb support, all phones are different and some phones require root and a root file browser, such as ES File Explorer, or Solid File Explorer to take advantage of using USB OTG storage.

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How to gain access to the hidden parts of Android

For those of us who like to be able to tinker and tweak our devices, or to be able to see what makes our devices tick, there is a way for us to be able to do this. Since Android is a form of linux, we are able to gain what we call Root access to a device. This root access gives us the ability to do many advanced tasks on our phones that are not possible to for the average user to do. Things such as:

  • Access and change the main filesystem using a file browser
  • Access the terminal emulator
  • Add or remove system apps to free up space
  • Backup and restore apps using titanium backup
  • Change the color and look of many parts of the system, such as the status bar menu items etc.
  • Flash a custom recovery, and install custom roms
  • Overclock the processor to make the phone faster, or underclock it to save battery life
  • Use a custom audio driver such as Viper for Android
  • The possibilities are basically endless!

 

Rooting not only does all of this to your current device, but you can also do this with an older android device and give it a second life; the after life 🙂

 

Conclusion

So to sum it all up, the possible ways to use your Android device to the fullest are basically endless. The features that i have talked about here are just scratching the surface when it comes to the possibilities that Android holds. So before you go and think about buying that next Iphone, think to yourself what things can I do with an Android that i can’t do on Iphone.

 

By: Tristin L.

Misfit Flash

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Misfit Flash

The Misfit Flash fitness tracker is worth way more than it’s meer $29.99 price tag. The Flash is a slim fashion friendly wearable fitness tracker that measures sleep and activity. This information is available through syncing the Flash with your smartphone via the Misfit app (on both Apple & Android). The app helps organize all the information collected by the Flash. For example, calories burned, distance traveled, steps taken & sleep duration/quality. With a catalogue of pre programmed activities to track like running, walking, tennis, cycling, basketball & soccer, tracking different activities is simple and this keeps the collected data accurate to each activity. This is an always on fitness tracker. Once you put it on you don’t need to remember to charge it or plug it in to update or receive logged data. With a battery life of 6 months to a full year, depending on use. Misfit is considerably one of the most convenient fitness trackers available, especially within it’s low price tag. In addition to tracking fitness and sleep the Misfit Flash also works as a wireless bluetooth button that can be programed to trigger events. Events such as services like, Yo, IFTTT, Harmony & Ring my phone. Other events such as music and camera control are also available for programming. With the services event options you can extend the reach of this tiny fitness tracker. To use this feature and use the tracker as a bluetooth button with programmed responses first you’ll need to install and setup the Link app by Misfit.  

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Misfit Link

The Link app by Misfit picks up where the Misfit app leaves off. Stepping in after the fitness and sleep tracking and enabling the interactive functionality such as the single, double, or triple press and the long press options. After syncing your device with the Link app, you’ll be presented with pre themed options like, music remote, selfie button, preso clicker, bolt switch and the custom button option. We’ll be covering the custom button option. Where each click, tap and press are blank and customizable with 3 sub options. The 3 sub options are, services, music remote and selfie button. Inside the services option there’s time & progress, yo, if, harmony and ring my phone. Music remote options are next, back, volume up and down. The selfie button list is short but still very useful with its take a photo and burst pictures options. With these plug-in like events, that can be programmed to react to a single or patterned click of a simple fitness tracker, the events options are only limited to your imagination.  

Custom Buttons

A profile for every occasion. Switch between profiles for fast functionality based on your needs in the moment. There are a bunch of pre built profiles such as the Bolt option, that comes with two button options, single press (change brightness) and long press (power off). You can create many custom profiles that have up to four button combo options, in case the provided ones fll short.

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IF (If This Then That)

By far one of the best most useful apps to be published to date is IF by IFTTT (If This Then That). Which means just that. If this (Misfit Button Pressed) Then (Play/Pause Music). It’s very simple to set up recipes. Just open the IF app and create a recipe with the if this then that template. With over 230+ services to choose from for there are endless options to combine. Just login to the services you choose to use and select an event that will domino effect a responding event. If you can’t seem to think of anything, to get the creative juices flowing try the shared recipes in the recommend or collections folders.

IFTTT Recipes

Some fun Misfit Flash IFTTT recipes are; (IF) Single Press (Then) Toggle Hue Lights On / (IF) Double Press (Then) Toggle Hue Lights Off. (IF) Triple press (Then) Send Daily Activity Report To Google Drive Folder / (IF) Long Press (Then) Play Workout Jams. Get creative with your recipes and the available services.

MyFitnessPal

For counting calories and logging your meals, MFP is your best option out of the vas list of apps available. Here is where you log the food you eat and the calorie count takes place. See the Misfit Flash tracks what calories you burn but that’s only half of the equation needed to do some diet math. MFP is the missing half, by giving you something to subtract them calories from. Knowing the macros of your meals is important when you’re trying to lose weight. So you’ll have a calorie intake number and a calorie outgoing number to make sure you’re not burning the candle at both ends. Keep track of how many calories you’re taking in and make sure it’s healthy (advise a trainer or nutritionist).

MFP Tips

Logging meal preps can be a pain in the glutes, but with MFP it’s actually pretty simple. Just scan the barcodes of all items used in the meals and create a preloaded meal. So when you go to log a meal prep and it’s something you have had before you can just go to the meals section under diary and select the matching meal. Other tabs besides the meals section are frequent, my food, and recipes. Recipes will scan your food shopping recipes from the grocery store, making entries as simple as possible.

UA-Record-app

Record

Now that you have a way to measure the calories coming in from food, the calories going out from the Flash but that’s mostly just calories burnt from motion in general without taking in account for which weight lifting activity the motion was for (excluding running, walking, biking, soccer and swimming). The missing link in the calorie counting madness is weightlifting. Record by Under Armour fills in the gap left by conventual fitness tracking apps. Log your workout by time and activity and get the best estimated feedback possible. Combine the calories burned with Record to the calories burnt with Misfit’s Flash and then subtract them from the MyFitnessPal calories to get a complete calorie count.

Record Yourself

Tracking activities and workouts is simple and the feedback is pretty accurate. Just set your high, weight and BMI/body fat information. Once you provide that the app can tell you how many calories you’re burning based off the activity you are doing. With two options for tracking, one being log entries and the other tracking a workout live. So if your phone is dead and you can’t do a live log, you can always just enter what you did and the amount of time spent doing it to get feedback on an activity you already did. Personally I like to see what the workout I have planned will burn by logging it, then deleting the log and tracking it, then compare results.  

How I Use The Misfit Flash

Utilizing the Misfit Flash for all that it’s capable of doing isn’t a short process but after you’re done setting it all up and linking all the third party vendors like Link, MFP and Record, it’s simple to keep up with. Personally I lost 80lbs of fat within a year using the Misfit Flash as my calorie counting guide. I had no clue what I was doing trying to lose weight, but luckily I made a random small investment in a tiny doodad called Flash. The Flash helped me to understand how many calories I burn a day without even working out, just dailymotion. That alone gave me a good idea on how many calories to allow myself for meals for each day. After I got the hang of the calorie basics, I started taking gym related activities into consideration and started counting the calories I burn working out. So now I know my daily calories burnt and the kinda calories I burn on top of that at the gym with the amount I consumed with my meals. With all that information I was able to plan for success. Prepping meals and workout routines to balance my calories and macros.

It’s also basically my wireless bluetooth button. Thanks to the Link app made by Misfit the maker of The Flash. it’s possible to give functionality to the fitness tracker. With options for things such as take photo or play/pause music, or log activity and control Bolt smart lights also a Misfit product. In addition to the preloaded options there is an endless variety of possibilities provided by IFTTT via their 200+ channels list. For example: I have a Misfit Flash custom Link profile that is set up for all IF related reactions. Like, press once (only provided options) double press (sends sms to my girlfriend “omw home” ) tripple press (log GPS into google drive folder, named cool places) and long press (only provided options) another few IFTTT events are sleep duration and goal achieved. For example, When I sleep longer than 8 hrs I have IFTTT turn on all my lights and E-Mail my boss that I might be running late. When my daily goal is achieved IFTTT reminds me to have a reward via a SMS from myself. It’s a super useful button. I find myself using it for something other than fitness tracking at least 3 times a day. almost always for recording a Snapchat video or taking a photo handsfree. To take a hands free selfie with Snapchat just set up the Flash in the Link app and choose the selfie button preloaded option. There will be two button functions, one for the single press and one for the long press. Single press will take a single photo in almost and photo taking app (I had problems with instagram). The long press starts to either take burst photos or records a video again depending on the app being used to take the video.

This $29.99 fitness tracker is my favorite piece of tech. It’s cheap, it’s simple, it’s got so much potential, the only limit is your imagination. If you’re looking for a fitness tracker or a bluetooth button this is the device for you. It’s the best for the buck and does more than expected of it. For $29.99 it’s worth giving a shot. If you don’t like it you can always regift it to the healthy and fit family member who’s in need of their very own tracker, but i’ma bet you’ll love it. Get yours Misfit Flash Here for just $19.99.

 

Kenn Bosak

Writer/Dev./Tech

Misfit Fitness Tracker

December 1, 2015

Android Launchers Part 3

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Android Launchers Part 3 – conclusion

Welcome to part 3 of our look at Android launchers. In this post we will discuss launchers in general and ask a simple question. Is all of this choice worth it?

To use a launcher or not to use a launcher – That is the question! Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the conformity of apple or take arms against the colours of touchwiz, and by opposing end them.

Publication1William Shakespeare wrote that, or at least something very, very close to that. I don’t want to make this post remind you to much of high-school English class but what was William trying to say? This is my opinion…….
We have heard the arguments before, people who enjoy conformity and more communistic viewpoint should buy an Apple phone. This is not a bad thing. They are great phones, and all comrades are considered equal. All use imessage, all use facetime, and with this comes the ability to streamline services and production. Apple is the icon of conformity and Android OEMs would love to have that level of success with their own apps and services. Samsung has tried to push its services in a wide variety of ways, HTC has Zoe and LG follows along with this approach but non can compare with Apple’s magical ability to glorify conformity. Are they wrong? Why does it matter if i don’t have a choice? If the correct and best option is already laid out in front of me why would i need to look elsewhere? As parents do we not lay out the best choices for our children and tell them what to choose? This is done with love and for the greater good. Apple has spent countless manhours creating the best icon for you, the best app for your needs and the best layout for your information. I am not saying this to be sarcastic. Many people, about 20% globally and about 50% in North america prefer the option of a ready made choice. And why not? It’s easy. The rub with this viewpoint is that the whole is more important than the parts. Your individual identity is lost.
Android is the choice for those that like choice or so it is said. “Be together, not the same” as the slogan says. But is android the choice of freedom? Yes and no. Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC and the rest have tried to get you to enjoy their premade choices. They have each failed at their version of communism so they allowed more choice as the years have moved along. A little more colour in the pristine white of conformity. Is it enough? Sony’s themes have always been gratifying and improved over the years. Samsung has done wonders with the new touchwiz theme engine but again, is it enough? Is this preset amount of easy change something to Shakespeare would write about? Are these the choices of freedom, the ones that are truly noble in the mind?Publication1
Well they work and they work really well. Anyone can open the Sony theme engine on their Xperia and in a few taps have a new look on their phone. Samsung has also done amazing things in 2015 to allow colour into our lives. All the OEM have given in to bits and pieces of personal choice. This is good for us all. Even Apple has opened up little but little.
So why do we need launchers? They can muck up processors and slow our phones down. They can be difficult to work with. If you really want to make a launcher your own it can take hours of time and adjustment to get it just write. Why bother?

Shakespeare also said
“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to your smart phone.”

That is what Shakespeare said or at least it was really close to that. This is the point i am trying to make; launchers allow you to be true to yourself. When my phone rings the Knight Rider theme plays. KITT even talks to me when I get a notification, sure he calls me Michael but i am OK with that. The point is that i feel like myself with the phone. And the best part is I can have a multiple personalities. So many different launchers, with so many different strengths, the possibilities are endless. I can change who am from day to day. We can all express our individualizam.
So go out and be true to who you are. If that means an iphone or sticking to touchwiz, great be happy with who you are. If you have a taste for colour in your life, if you need to push away from the ordinary, then go for the customization that launchers can give. It does not matter which one you start with, what matter is that you start to explore. There is an odd kind of spark that happens when you see someone with a heavily modded layout. You know that they also dream in colour, and that they are true to themselves.

Perhaps i am making much ado about nothing, a phone after all, is just a device. A piece of overpriced glass and metal. It has no soul. Thing is, not all of us are artists, not all of us can sing or paint. For some our phones are our canvases. The device may not have a soul but we all do. So let your colours shine.

E. Tuesday.

YouTube RED

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YouTube RED

October 28th is the day you have been dreaming of……youtube videos without any of those annoying ads for cars, toliet paper or viagara.  YouTube Red is a paid membership that lets members enjoy any video on YouTube without ads while still supporting creators.  It also lets members save videos to watch offline on mobile, play videos in the background, and offers members access to exclusive content, all for $9.99 a month.  This works on all devices, anywhere you can sign into youtube.  Free ad-supported youtube will still be available.

So whats your opinion on this?  I’m pretty excited about this new feature.  We are an impatient society, we don’t have time for slow wifi, tv commercials or youtube ads.   If you are a heavy youtube watcher, this feature is a must.  Think of this as a dvr for youtube 🙂

If you have a youtube account, check your email for further information on this new feature.

 

 

Android Launchers Part 2

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Screenshot_20151018-121159Screenshot_20151017-122712

 

We are back with part two of our look at Android launchers.  Last week our attention was focused on two of the best launcher for customization and stability, NOVA and Action Launcher 3.  I said that this week we would be looking at the fun launchers.  Two of the best launcher to use for sheer enjoyment are Buzz Launcher-Smart & Free Themes and LINE Launcher.

These launchers are built for fun.  They don’t have the clean and nearly invisible feel of Nova or the detailed care of Action Launcher 3 but they are still full blown launchers with a vide variety of customization tools and tricks.  I would say that all 4 launchers are in the same league but definitely not at the same level.  Buzz and LINE come with bloatware tied to the launcher and the launcher itself, general bogs down the system.  Thanks to RootJunky I recently installed Marshmallow and the launchers do seem to run a bit smoother than they did on Lollipop but they still slow me down, just a touch. Anyway if you are looking for performance look back to the first two launcher we looked at.  If you looking for fun…. well then, here we go.

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LINE LauncherScreenshot_20151017-123935

Let’s start with LINE Launcher. This has to be the most adorable launcher on the planet. I can’t help but fall in love with the simple fun you can have with all of these free themes.   There Screenshot_20151017-115548 Screenshot_20151017-120131is a great sense of anonymity on the internet and you dear reader, have no clue of who I am.  I could be the stereotype of a 15 year Korean girl that just loves all things cute and cuddly.  Thing is, i am not and I still like LINE launcher.  I am secure enough to tell you that all 220 pounds of my middle aged, manly fury loves these themes.  They are just such great fun.  With a quick jump to their theme shop you can browse by what is new, by season or colour.  It is so easy to find a theme that fits your mood or activity for the day.  I will be honest with you and say that do not keep these themes or this launcher on my phone all the time.  I will not be using these themes if I am have a beer with a friend and swapping some manly stories.  It just does not fit. However if i am going hiking with my daughters, now that’s different.  Halloween is coming and why not enjoy the time with a safe for work and safe all ages theme?  LINE launcher is definitely a lot of fun.  Check it out and I am sure that you will find something to like.  They do have a variety of themes and something to fit all tastes but they excel at cuteness.  If you have an old phone that you are handing down to your daughter, put this launcher on it and she will be the coolest kid in grade 3.  

Not sure why a kid in grade three needs a phone but we’ll save that for another post.

 

Buzz Launcher

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Screenshot_20151017-114825If all that cuteness was to much for you, focus on Buzz Launcher.  I see this launcher as the one created for and by Fanboys and even some Fangirls.  Buzz like all launchers allows you to customize your phone’s layout.  It is a powerful tool but not really different than any other launcher in capabilities. Where buzz really shines through it Screenshot_2015-06-21-17-48-14Screenshot_20151017-120828community involvement, and it is a community of Fanboys.  If you are into comics you will say “excelsior”  with every theme dedicated to Stan Lee’s Children.  Into Gaming?  Buzz has a theme for you.  Check out the Clash of Clans theme.  Tap the hog rider to open your phone and the Witch opens your app draw.  Prefer a different set up? It is fully customizable.  

As a Kid, i thought Knight Rider was the coolest thing ever.  And now my phone plays the show’s intro for a ringtone.  Hangouts opens when I press KITT’s voice box.  For that alone, I love this launcher.

But what if you are a 15 year old Korean girls that does not like comic, games or american TV shows from the 80’s.  That’s OK because Buzz Launcher has themes with the latest Korean Pop band.  Seriously, It has a lot of Korean Pop bands…… but 50 million Koreans can’t be wrong, so don’t judge!

It does not matter what you are a fan of, form Premier League Soccer to boy bands around the world you can find it on Buzz.  The app has a great setup for viewing and sharing your themes. You view themes created by fans of nearly everything, download it and make your own modifications, just to give it that personal touch.  If you have a super fan living inside of you, give this launcher a try. You will be impressed.

Buzz and LINE, two great launcher for your Android device.  If you are looking to add some fun into your daily driver these are great places to start.  What is your launcher of choice?  Is all this cuteness and fanboyism to much for you?  Do you prefer the more refined approach of Nova or Action Launcher 3?  Does your heart flutter at the cute characters on LINE launcher? Will Yoda or your favorite team stare back at you from your phone’s launcher?  

Let me know were you stand, comments are welcome.

Next week we will wrap up this discussion with an overview of launcher and their worth.

 

Until next time.

E.Tuesday

 

 

 

 

 


Android Launchers

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One of the best things about Android, it gives you the ability to be different, to separate yourself from the rest and it does not matter who you are.  You could be a global juggernaut bent on touchwizing the planet or a lonely Star Trek loving geek, living in your parent’s basement. It does not matter because the Android Open Source Project lets you “be together, not the same.”

This will be part one of three, in a series about Android launchers. We will look at the good, the bad and the ugly and try to be as honest as we can be about a very subjective topic – personal taste.  Although i really like Android’s new slogan,  “be together, not the same”  and it is my preferred platform, I  want to end the series with a simple question…. Is all this choice worth it?

Let’s find out……

In this post I would like to look at two of the very best launchers.  They are Nova Launcher and Action Launcher 3. There are a lot of launchers out there and even more debate on which are the best launchers.  I have tried a number of them and the Screenshot_20151011-210528reason i see these two as the best is customizations and stability.   I have installed a number of launchers that slow my phone down and that i just can’t accept.  An unstable launcher just leaves you hanging. Literally, you are left hanging waiting for your processor to work through the math.

Action launcher 3

Action launcher 3 (AL3)is clean yet customizable.  It sticks to a stock android feel but adds some really beep modifications.  One of AL3 key features are the icon Covers and Shutters.   

From AL3’s webpage:

Covers: an innovative take on traditional folders. Tapping a Cover loads an app, swiping a Cover opens a hidden folder which you have customized.

Shutters: swipe a shortcut to reveal an app’s widget. Allows you to say preview your inbox or Facebook feed without opening the app.

Screenshot_20151011-210544

Have a look at the screenshot.  You can see that Games, Fitness and Google are covers, marked with a square, and contain apps within.  Hangouts is a shutter, marked with two horizontal lines, and previews the app with swipe.  If you look closely you may notice something about the Covers and Shutters.  They are automatically coloured to matched your app!  This is a small feature but it speaks to why i like action launcher.  The developer wanted to do his best and it shows.  When a developer takes time for the small things they gain my respect, It does not matter if you like another launcher over this one, you can’t help but respect the effort put into it and it does not stop there.

 

There are two other things that i want you to notice about this screenshot.  Look at the yellow of the google search bar and the blue of folder(Cover) background.  It all matches with the wallpaper!  AL3 calls it Quick Theme and it quickly impresses.  This feature can modify the status bar, search box, all apps background, quickdrawer and folder background all to match with your wallpaper.   You can play with it in the setting but every time i use it i really like the chosen colour scheme.  It’s not the biggest change a launcher can do but it is well thought out and the extra touches to make it complete.

There are lots of other customization and short cuts that AL3 can do but most are common to other launchers.  I should mention that the search bar can be a powerful tool for someone
using this launcher.  However, what really separates it from the pack is its stability and small touches like the quick theme.  This is a launcher that will take care of you, it will let you pick a wallpaper and then make everything look good for you.   That is why it is my second favorite launcher.  

 

NOVA Launcher

 

There are things that other launchers can do that Nova can’t but Nova is invisible and totally customization.  I can get lost in the infinite settings and options.  Nova does not coddle you like AL3 does.  You can see on this screenshot that Games, Fitness and Google are not marked as folders.  You need to remember how you have set yourself up with Nova.  You can see that the google search bar is white.  It has not been modified to match the colours of your screen.  All of these things are not negatives to me because you are actually free to modify anything and everything.  I could list what you can modify but that would make this article boring, just know that whatever it is, it can be modified on Nova.  Is your notification bar hard to see with your white Screenshot_20151011-210945wallpaper?  Change them to a dark icon theme.   Don’t like unread icon badges? That’s ok, don’t use them or if you do, place them in any corner you wish. This is the tinker’s launcher but that is not why it is my launcher of choice.  

Once you are done playing with the setting and options it works and works.  I sometimes even forget that i am using a launcher.  I will jump onto my wife’s Nexus 5 and only then do i realize “Ohh this is stock android, i forgot”.  

Not sure what kind of pixie dust they are putting in the programming.  What i do know is that it works well.  My trusty Nexus 5 is not a slouch but it can stumble if it has too many graphic heavy games thrown at it.  I notice the lag with other launchers and to a lesser degree with Action Launcher 3 but it runs like stock with Nova.  You can’t notice that is it there, it becomes completely invisible and that is why it earns my spot as top launcher.  

 

Nova may be my top launcher but it is not the most fun. Next week, in part two we will review two of the funnest launchers around.  Until then let me know your thoughts in the comment section.  Do you use either of these launchers?  Do you have a launcher that you think kicks ass, let me know.   Disagree with my opinion?  What are your thoughts?

 

Both of these launchers took time to develop.  If you have a few bucks kicking around and if you like the launcher, why not support the developer?  It can only lead to more development of new and better launchers.

 

Until next time

E. Tuesday

Plex Media Server

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Plex Overview

Plex is an online streaming service where you provide the content. Content is provided by selecting folders or files, including digital copies of downloaded videos.  These can include home movies, tv shows, photos and music.  These can be streamed and shared via Plex. Plex connects your device’s files over Wifi on and off-line (with a premium option available for a small fee). Think of Plex as a way to watch what’s on your phone, but on your PC; what’s on your PC you can watch on your tablet;  and also on your TV with no plugs or internet. All you need to use Plex is a wifi router and all your devices on the same network.  With internet access you can share those files with friends and family.  It’s a great way to show off that family vacation video or new favorite movie.

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Plex is the new XBMC

XBox Media Center or XBMC for short, is the soul and roots of what Plex does and what it offers. XBMC is now known as KODI, but Plex has been my XBMC replacement for years. Plex, like XBMC, is a DLNA host that allows you to access your provided content via media server. The DLNA option enables even more streaming possibilities without running the Plex app. For example, on the Xbox One, the Plex app requires a premium membership; but since you can use Plex to host your own server, just go to Xbox Media Center and you’ll see the name of your Plex Media Server for streaming over the air. This only works for devices that are on the same wifi network, internet is not necessary for DLNA.

Plex w/Friends

Adding friends is easy and so is selecting the files and folders you share with them. You can even monitor who’s watching what and on which device. Why Plex alone when you can Plex with friends? 🙂 Sharing your new favorite movies and music couldn’t be any easier. Just add a friend to your list, download the digital copy of your new “gotta see this video” and add the file to a public folder to share with everyone. Be the talk of the group by finding the new hit show or keep up with everyone’s favorites.  You can decide what’s worth watching or listening to based off your friends Plex content.

How to share

Now that you have some friends on Plex, let’s talk sharing. Sharing on Plex is easy and safe thanks to the controls they offer, both for free and also with some premium setting options.  Just choose the friend(s) you want to share with and the libraries you want to share with them. From there you can set rating and content controls. Setting restrictions is great for sharing with the kids, so you don’t have to worry about them watching your digital copy of Fifty Shades or listening to that new Fetty Wap album. It’s also handy for keeping personal files private while allowing access to other media, all within the same folders or libraries. Building a strong sharing and streaming community is what Plex is all about.  They make it really convenient for anyone to use, even a noob.

 

Channels on Plex

Using channels on Plex is the neatest feature by far. It allows you to watch live TV and use an OnDemand like catalog with provided plugins liked it CBS, History Channel, FOX, even YouTube and others. Plex channels is a portal to a never ending, always growing list of apps within an app inception like world, that you could get lost in. It’s clean neat and very organized for being free; well basically free if you’re a premium member which starts at $4.99 a month. Just go to the channels tab and search for the desired plugin, once you’ve found it just click and wait for the server to connect. After a few hours, you can either stream Live TV or an On Demand like content depending on the channel plugin and what it offers.

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How I use Plex

I use Plex for all my entertainment media streaming needs, including LIVE TV, an On Demand like catalog, my music & photos. Plex offers a DLNA server that casts over the wifi network and does not require active internet, just a connected network of devices. The Plex app itself is like the cloud; I provide the content and anywhere I can access the internet and install the Plex app I can access my files and stream them without lag or much buffering depending on the quality and internet strength. Using Channels and plugins like iTunes and Photos brings all of your media together organized and always ready to share. Sharing digital media fills in the gaps of Plex and helps you keep connected with family and friends.  You are able to share photos from today’s big event or introduce someone to your new favorite TV show.  Plex has so much to offer, it’s crazy not to use it and use all of it.

DLNA streaming works offline and only requires that both devices, the one hosting the server and the other you’re using as a screen to stream, are both on the same wifi network. From here, within the Plex app, you can choose the bit rate and image quality to better tune your streaming and avoid lag or buffering. This is how I utilize Plex with my Xbox One, since the Plex app on that device requires the paid premium membership to stream within the app. First, I have the Xbox One and Plex Media Server connected to the same network, over wifi. Next, I open Xbox One’s Media Player and select the Plex server and appropriate folder to start streaming, it’s that easy. The DLNA server is the best work around for viewing Plex content on a device that does not support the Plex app, but does support DLNA.

The channels Plex offers like Yahoo Screen, iTunes, Photos and Tablo make streaming your media simple. Since the Plex Channels let you basically use an app within an app, you can watch Yahoo Screen content that’s otherwise browser based, or listen to your iTunes music on a device that does not support the iTunes app. Tablo is an over the air TV tuner/DVR that gives you the ability to stream LIVE TV and pre-recorded content, from your home set top box or on the go in the Plex app. So where ever there is Plex, Smartphone/tablet/PC/ect, you can watch LIVE TV or listen to your music and even watch free On Demand like content from FOX or Comedy Central. Channels is a perfect work around for accessing your favorite media content when it’s not always available the way you need it.

Sharing your collective media with family and friends is the best way to keep up to date on the latest trending shows and movies. It also gives you the ability to share photos and music with everyone, so you can show off the photos of the big event or introduce the gang to the newest best band ever. There’s nothing like watching a new movie or listening to a new song and having the ability to share it with someone who’s near or far and get their take on it. Logging into Plex and checking out what’s new in your friends queue is like waking up on christmas morning, each library has something new to view. If your family members like mom & dad or the kids want  to watch that movie you been talking about or see those photos from that vacation you won’t shut up about, all they need is a Plex account and internet access. Finally sharing your digital media, movies, music, and photos is easy, safe, and convenient.
So that’s how I use Plex.  It organizes everything I download or imported onto my PC and makes streaming it wherever I go possible. Plex is where my PC, phone and tablet(s) collective media is stored and is the one place to access everything at once no matter where I am or what device I’m using.

 

Kenn Bosak

Writer/Dev./Tech

Plex Is My New Ish!

October 1, 2015

Google Now competition Cortana and Hound beta

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Google Now competition Cortana and Hound beta

I am sure that all of you have used Google Now and its awesome search features and cards.  Recently two new android apps have come to market that match up very well against Google Now.  The First is from the creators of Sound Hound and is call Hound Beta – Voice Search+ and works really really well with a major focus on returning a voice based answer to your questions.  The Second app was just release a couple days ago or maybe leaked 🙂 its called Cortana and is created by Microsoft. Since Microsoft made Cortana of course it uses Bing as its search engine and normal comes with windows phones.

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All three apps have a nice menu for customizing the cards that show up and your search results. In my experience Hound is great at answering long questions with many parameters while Cortana is much better at answering fun and simple questions like tell me a joke. 🙂 see below

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So if you would like to try out a new voice search application then download these and check them out probably the best part about voice search apps is finding all the Easter Eggs hidden inside :-). Please let me know if you fine anything really funny or just plain awesome.

 

RootJunky out!!

Xposed Framework Lollipop

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Xposed Framework Lollipop Alpha

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NOTE: That this is still an alpha version and for Lollipop on ARMv7+ devices only. Please install it only if you’re willing to take the risk of boot loops. Just because it’s working fine and stable for me doesn’t mean it will work for everyone the same way. If this brakes your device you may have to flash the firmware to fix it make sure you know how to do that before installing.

How to Check out ARM Version and see if it is 7 or above

  1. Install Android Terminal Emulator  app on your device and open it
  2. Type the followng: getprop ro.product.cpu.abi  OR getprop ro.product.cpu.abi2
  3. It will return with your Arm Version. see picture below

Screenshot terminal

Downloads: Get all files need HERE
xposed-arm-20150213b.zip: Must be flashed with a custom recovery to install the framework.
XposedInstaller_3.0-alpha1.apk: Must be installed to manage installed modules.

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Known issues:
– It seems to boot loop on Samsung stock ROMs. I have received a file which I can use to analyse this issue, but it might take some time.
Update: There’s a difference in the format of *.oat files on Samsung ROMs. I’m trying to find out more

– If everything is working fine, but the app_process version is not displayed, it’s just a display error that can be ignored (will be fixed later).

– Nexus 6 only works if you set selinux to permissive and soft reboot from within the xposed framework app. you can us this Google Play app to change the selinux to permissive.

XDA XPOSED FRAMEWORK OFFICIAL THREAD