How to use your android device to its full potentialPosted: May 2, 2012
It has been a long time since I wrote that previous blog post on updating your Galaxy Ace device through Samsung Kies. It has been an awesome journey into the world of Android over the past few months!
I got a Galaxy Tab 10.1. It is sold as the Galaxy Tab 750, here in India. It is an amazing device, with a nice large screen. The cost of the device is kinda high, but not as high as the ASUS Transformer Prime in India (32k vs 50k). Since, I purchased it with my GSoC money, I didn’t mind spending so much on a fancy gadget that I didn’t think would be used to its full potential.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 has very good hardware that can run a wide variety of apps and games and is extremely good for entertainment purposes like watching movies and Youtube videos too. But the OS is of poor quality. Honeycomb (Android 3.x) should have never been shipped. It is laggy, buggy and totally not worth it, on a device so costly.
That is when I started looking more into XDA forums. I wanted to know more about using my 2 android devices to their full potential as I became bored with the laggy OS that they carried.
After becoming familiar with the forum rules, tone and style of posts, and with some prodding around, I was able to understand the meaning of some common jargons used in the Android world. I have summarized some of the things that any android noob would want to know, below.
1. XDA is awesome.
There are so many android blogs and forums out there. But I don’t think any of them actually beat the volume and quality of content generated by xda forum members. There are countless active threads for each device and they contain almost all the information that you need.
2. Don’t dive in too quickly.
With so many jargons and with the huge possibility of getting flamed by xda members if you post totally noob questions that have already been asked before, it is better if you spend time going through the forums to find solutions for your question. Get yourself familiar with xda forums for a few days before posting something. It helps. Trust me.
3. Almost each Android device has its own section on XDA forums.
By using the Find your device… service at the top right corner on XDA forums, you can search the sub-forum for your device. Each device usually contain the following sections:
- General – where news and other discussions are posted
- Q & A – where users post questions and seek help
- Accessories – where details related to accessories are discussed
- Android Development – where custom ROMs are discussed
- Themes and Apps – where you can find good looking themes and great apps that are supported by your device
Almost every android blog suggests you to root your device. But what exactly is rooting? There are so many wrong meanings given to that term. I will try to give the best correct definition that I can come up with.
Simply put, rooting is the process of gaining administration privileges on your android device.
There, that’s it. No more extra lines to that definition.
It is the equivalent of gaining root privileges on your linux system / administrator privileges on your Windows system.
5. Why aren’t all Android devices rooted?
Giving a rooted device to a customer who doesn’t know anything about his device, is the equivalent of giving a gun to a child.
Once your device is rooted, you might accidentally mess up system files and end up “bricking” your device. Although there are recovery solutions online for some bricked devices, most of the times, you might be pointed to the nearest service center that can repair your bricked device.
Therefore, most importantly, DO NOT TRY THE FOLLOWING STEPS IF YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. THE AUTHOR OF THIS POST IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY PROBLEM ON YOUR DEVICE.
There. Now, I am exempt from any guilt/damages.
6. Why should we root our device?
There are a few apps that need system privileges to run. You can install those apps to do a wide variety of tasks. Some apps that require root privileges are Titanium Backup, Touchscreen Tune and link2sd.
The most important reason to root your device is to install custom ROMs.
7. What are custom ROMs?
Simply put, custom ROMs are modified versions of the operating system that your device runs. They are still Android, but with so many new features added and so many useless features removed.
8. Who can make these custom ROMs?
Anyone! There are quite a few teams of developers who sit together and modify the existing ROMs on your device (stock ROM) and release it for you to download and install.
Some famous teams are CyanogenMOD, AOKP team and Team Cooper.
If you are good enough, you can take the source code for your device from the internet, modify it, build it, test it and even release it for others to download.
9. Should I pay those developers to install a custom ROM?
Nope. But sometimes, they might ask you to donate money to run their servers which build the code. Donating is usually optional.
10. How do I root my device?
There are quite a number of tutorials online for rooting. Please follow rooting instructions only for your device. Rooting instructions for one device might not work on the other. The method usually involves installing a zip file specific to your device onto your sd card.
11. How do I install a custom ROM?
There are generally 2 methods. One involves using the ODIN tool. The other involves installing ClockWorkMod (CWM) recovery (because the stock recovery tool isn’t good enough), storing a particular zip file for your device on to the sd card and installing it through the recovery mode. Please follow tutorials online for exact details.
12. What else can I do?
Once you have rooted your device, you can remove unnecessary system apps (bloatware).
If you make a nandroid backup (a complete snapshot of your system memory) using the CWM tool, you can always recover the previous state of your device, in case of problems with your new custom ROM.
Now that you have taken backup, you can try different ROMs and see what you like. Different ROMs offer different advantages. Some offer greater speed, some offer better battery life, some offer greater functionalities and access to system features and even overclock your device! (Be careful with overclocking. You might permanently ruin your device.)
Once you find the ROM that suits your device and your needs, you will realize that you had not been using your device to its full potential, all along!
By the way, I have rooted both my devices. My Samsung Galaxy Ace runs Omega ROM v3 and my Galaxy Tab 10.1 runs AOKP build 34.
If you have any doubts, suggestions or comments, do let me know through the comments section below. Happy rooting and installing custom ROMs!