Thursday, November 28, 2013

AotD: Google Opinion Rewards, Earn Play Store Money by Answering Surveys

There are probably a lot of apps out there where you can do certain simple tasks on your phone and make some money, albeit a very small amount.  Well, Google released an app where you can take survey's and they'll reward you with free Google Play Store credits.

The survey's are usually really short and are most of the time multiple choice.  While you won't be able to quit your day job, this is a really simple way to add some credits to your account, which you can use towards some new apps you might have been eyeing.  The first survey I answered netted me $1.  I've answered a few more and have received a smaller amount, $0.80 one time, but free is free, and it literally took a minute to answer the survey.  They're random, so you might receive one two days in a row, you might not receive one for two weeks.  Again, it's just some extra money that can be easily acquired in a short time span.

*I was having some issues submitting my surveys and found out that an app, Adaway, on my rooted device might have been the culprit.  If you are also having that issue and have Adaway installed you might want to remove it/pause it if a survey is available.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Android App: Plex on Sale Now Until Nov 29th 60% Off

If you have been wanting to get Plex, now's the time.  They are offering 60% off as part of their Thanksgiving sale.  So instead of $5 it's $2.  Sale is for iOS, Android, and Windows devices.

If you don't know what Plex is you should check it out if you are into organizing your media and playing it from practically any device.

iTunes Link

Google Play Store Link

Windows Store Link

Sunday, November 24, 2013

AotD: wRotatr, Rotate Your Own Pictures as Wallpapers

So I've written blog posts about 2 other types of wallpaper apps.  Auto-wallpaper (for reddit) which allows you to subscribe to subreddits and rotates your wallpapers automatically on a set interval.  There's Blur which allows you to blur your existing image creating simple, unique, and color backgrounds that you are able to use.  If you wish to automatically rotate your own pictures from your gallery then you might want to check out wRotatr, which is from the makers of Paranoid Android.  This app will allow you to add images to a list and automatically rotate through them in order or randomly.  You also have to option to track certain folders which will it will then choose to rotate through.  Unfortunately it is a paid app at $1.36 so it won't hurt the pocketbook too much.

Google Play Store Links:
Auto-wallpaper (for reddit) - Free
Blur - Free w/paid option
wRotatr - $ w/no Free option

Saturday, November 23, 2013

AotD: Blur, Create Minimalistic Wallpapers with Existing Photos

If you're not into picture (landscapes, buildings, etc) wallpapers that other apps like Autowallpaper (for reddit) provides and like the more simpler and colorful wallpapers you might want to check out Blur.  It's a simple idea, the premise of blurring pictures, but by simply doing so you are able to create neat looking backgrounds which reminds me of some of the early default Nexus wallpapers.  
It's free in the Google Play store and I would recommend checking it out.  There is also a paid version for $0.99 which allows you to adjust colors and is ad free.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

CarbonRom: How To Guide on Customization

So I recently rooted my device and decided to go with a new ROM while I was waiting for 4.4 to hit the Nexus 4 and decided to go with CarbonRom.  It's an all around great ROM with many features from all of the most popular ROMs and so far I have had no regrets.  The point of this post is not to sway you to rooting or using CarbonRom, but just a few quick guides on how to do certain customization.  Let's begin:

This is what my current homescreen looks like at the moment.  As for the wallpaper, if you haven't read my post about Auto wallpaper (for reddit) you should definitely check out the app or if you prefer simple, yet color spectrum like wallpapers, check out Blur.  I'm also currently using the beta version of Nova Launcher which takes a few bits from 4.4 Kit Kat.

11.23.2013 - Added Minimized Lockscreen Challenge
11.24.2013 - Added CRT Animation

Hide the Status Bar
I like having the status bar hidden as it adds additional screen real estate.  I set it to where if I drag my finger down it will display the status bar and if I repeat the action it will open the notification menu.


Quick Peek allows you to swipe down to display the status bar briefly and I have the status bar hidden at  all time.  If you wish you can set it do display when you have notifications which some might find useful.

Transparent Navigation Bar
The status bar and the navigation bar in 4.4 KitKat is transparent which is great because it makes the screen a look a lot larger compared to it's previous iteration.  I also made the bar smaller so it doesn't take up as much space considering it's not really displaying useful information.  If you want to completely hide it you can do so and then activate Pie Controls.  In my case since the status bar is hidden at all times I left the transparency for it at 0% because otherwise I found it difficult to read.

Arrow Keys on Keyboard
Something I thought would be strange to have I've found to be extremely useful.  I no longer have to fiddle around with the blue cursor trying to perfectly place that damn cursor line one more letter left or right.  With this setting it simply adds a left and right arrow along your navigation menu to help with those pesky cursor issues.

Minimized Lockscreen Challenge
When you have gorgeous wallpapers why block them with a keypad when you power on your phone.  Making this change will also allow you to see any larger widgets you might be using.  I had previously used Dashclock and had it display things like email, messages, and news, and with the keypad hidden I was able to see a more detailed view without having the expand the widget.

What it looks like when the lockscreen challenge is hidden.

Disable CRT Animation
If you don't like the CRT Animation you see when your display turns off you can disable it.  If you do like you have the option to change it from being a horizontal animation to a vertical one if that is what you prefer.  Unlike most of the CarbonRom settings, this one is actually in Display.

I'll continue to add more settings I find useful as I familiarize myself with CarbonRom.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Feature List Breakdown of Popular Android ROMs

I recently stumbled across this Google Document that gives a nice comparison of features that each ROM includes.  It's pretty extensive and can give you a clear idea of what ROM you might want to try.  While it might not contain every ROM it does include the popular ones.  Hopefully this will make your decision a bit easier.

ROM Comparison Google Document

Saturday, November 16, 2013

How to Unlock the Bootloader and Root Your Nexus 4 on OS X

I finally made the dive into installing custom ROMs on my Nexus 4 but as you all know you need to have a rooted device.  I wasn't able to find very clear instructions on how to root my device, most of the ones I found were not very descriptive, so hopefully this will help clear things up.

*Images will be added shortly.

I'm sure these steps are very similar on Windows, using Command Prompt instead of Terminal, but I used OS X so I can't make any guarantees if the steps are not exactly the same.

This might not be the best or easiest way, but everything I found was very similar and this method worked for me.

This works for all Android versions which includes Android 4.2.1, 4.2.2, 4.3.x, and 4.4 KitKat.

This guide includes making a backup and restoring everything.

Uses ClockworkMod.

Remove any type of security to access your phone whether it be a PIN or Pattern. (might cause issues when trying to backup).

Turn on Airplane mode to prevent any updates or incoming new messages to not be backed up.

Save the downloads and extract them to your Desktop.

Android File Transfer - Will be used on OS X to backup your data.
Nexus4Root - Contains the main files to unlock bootloader.
CWM SuperSU - Roots the device and installs SuperSU on your phone.  If using 4.3 or 4.4 use this file.  If using an older version of Android, use the one included in the
Clockwork Recovery Touch - Nexus4Root includes a version of this but if you want the latest you can download and replace the file in the Nexus4Root extract.


Go to Settings > About Phone
Tap the Build Number until you see the "You are now a developer" message.
Go back to Settings and select Developer Options.

Turn on Developer Options and make sure USB debugging is checked.
If you haven’t downloaded and installed Android File Manager do so now. Also download and extract Nexus4Root to your desktop.

Connect a micro-USB cable to your phone and computer.  If you've already installed Android File Transfer it will most likely automatically open.

Backup your phone by copying all the files from Android File Transfer to a folder on your OS X desktop.

*If it looks like it is stuck your phone may have some security setting whether it is a PIN, Pattern, etc.  Unlock your phone and the transfer should start.

Open Terminal on OS X.  Using Spotlight would be the easiest way to open it.

In Terminal type cd Desktop/Nexus4Root
In Terminal type chmod 755 *

In Terminal type ./adb-mac devices

*You should see device meaning it is being detected.  If it is not listed or is offline, unplug the phone from the computer and plug it back in again.
In Terminal type ./adb-mac backup –apk –all –f backup.ab

On your phone it should display an option to backup your data.  Select Back up my data. If you wish to encrypt it with a password you can, I did not.

*The backup may take anywhere from 1-20 minutes depending on the amount of data you have on your phone.  If it looks like it is stuck, it most likely is not, just give it some time.

Once completed Power off you device and unplug it from the computer. 

Press and hold the Power button and the Volume down button until you see the bootloader menu.

Your phone should say that it is locked on the bottom of the bootloader screen which is normal.

On the bootloader screen plug in your micro-USB cable from the computer to your phone.

Go back to Terminal on OS X and type ./fastboot-mac oem unlock

*This will wipe your phone.  Hopefully you made a backup in the earlier steps.

On your device press the Volume Up button to select Yes.  Then press the Power button to confirm.  You should now see on the bootloader screen where it used to say locked it now says unlocked.  You have successfully unlocked the bootloader.  Press the Power button again to reboot your phone.

*While booting your should notice an unlocked lock which also means the bootloader has been unlocked.

Once your phone has booted you will see the set up menu as if it’s a new phone.   Everything has been wiped.  Go through the set up process until you get to the homescreen.  You can just skip everything as we’ll restore your content and settings later.

Reconnect your phone if it is not connected and copy the file by dragging and dropping it onto your phone using Android File Transfer.  Copying and pasting does not work.

Power off your phone and boot it while holding the Power and Volume Down button until you see the bootloader screen.

Go back to Terminal and type ./fastboot-mac flash recovery recovery*.img

If everything works you should see some OKAY messages in Terminal.

On your phone use the Volume toggle to switch to Recovery mode, then press the Power button.

Once in ClockworkMod(CWM) Recovery select “install zip from sdcard”.

Then “choose zip from sdcard”.

Select “0/”.

Browse/scroll and select file, the one you copied over, and select Yes, which will root your phone and install the SuperSU app.

Once completed navigate back to the main screen and select reboot system now.

If you see a message about the "ROM may flash stock recovery on boot. Fix?” select Yes.

Once your phone has rebooted you should now see a SuperSU app in your app drawer.

Congratulations, your phone is now rooted.

Time to restore your previous settings.  If you made a backup by copying all your files from Android File Transfer from your phone to your computer you can reverse the process and copy all of the files from your computer to your phone.

You’ll most likely have to re-enable Developer options by going to Settings > About phone then tapping on the Build number until you see the message saying “You are a developer”.

Go to Developer options, make sure it is on, and make sure to enable USB debugging.

Next, in Terminal type ./adb-mac restore backup.ab

On your phone selected Restore my data.

*Again, depending on how big the backup was it may take anywhere from 1-20 minutes.

Once done your phone should be back to what it was before starting this process, but with the addition of root access.

*Some apps may require you to re-enter your password.

Wasn’t so hard now was it, just a tad bit long?  Hope this helped.  Now go and install a custom ROM or kernel.


Not sure which ROM you want to try.   Check out my other article.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Popular Android ROM Features in Infographics and GIF's

So I recently decided to install a new ROM on my Nexus 4 but I was sure which one I wanted or which ROM was the best for me.  The most well known seems to be CyanogenMod, but there are so many to choose from.  I repeatedly saw these same four ROMs (not ordered in any way):

1. CyanogenMod
2. CarbonRom
4. Paranoid Android

After a lot of reading and some video watching on YouTube, I decided to go with CarbonRom since it seemed to have a little bit of everything.  I can't give an opinion just yet, but what I can say is that it has so far been a great, solid rom.

While browsing one day I ended up stumbling across these awesome GIF's displaying most of the features for each of the ROMs I listed above.  You'll notice that most of the ROMs share the same features but each has it's own tweaks.  Below are some examples of what you can expect with links to the complete list of GIFs.  Hopefully this helps give you a better understanding of what each ROM is capable of doing and makes your decision easier.

All the credit goes to a user by the name of wamen_noodles over at Reddit who took the time to create the GIFs.
Reddit Post Link

A more extensive breakdown of features per ROM.


Complete CyanogenMod GIFs


Complete CarbonRom Gifs


Paranoid Android

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Android App Review: Auto-wallpaper (for reddit)

On my OS X Desktop I have an app called Wallpaper Wizard, which I recommend, which automatically rotates the desktop background based on topics you have subscribed to (nature, space, etc.).  I recently wanted to have a similar feature but for my Nexus 4.  After some browsing I finally stumbled across an app called Auto-wallpaper (for reddit).

It basically follows the same notion, where you can have your wallpaper automatically change based on a set time duration.  What they use as topics/themes are Reddit's subreddits, such as Earthporn, Waterporn, Spaceporn, etc.  They have a few that are predefined but you do have the option to add your own subreddit if you wish.

It's a basic app that only changes your wallpaper, but can add a new fresh look to your phone.  I really enjoy it and recommend checking it out.

+ Free
+ Easy to use
+ Can set update interval
+ Can set to update only on wifi