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[GUIDE] Don't Panic: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Nexus
01-03-2013 06:33 PM
- "For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen." - Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
[INFO]Table of Contents
- Unlocking/Rooting - Tapping into the Mysterious Fountain of Awesomeness: Unlocking & Rooting
- Flashing - Flashing = Installing (And crazy things you've done but didn't realize until now...)
- CPU Control - I Wanna Go Fast! Some Thoughts on Kernels, Governors, and Speed Limits
- Radios - Can't Phone Home? Get a New Radio!
- Theming - . . . And one day, you'll be an artist--customizing the appearance of your home screen, lock screen, soft keys, and elsewhere
I would like to thank all sources linked within this guide, may they be apps, developers, forum posts and posters, or whatever. Your work is amazing and without it, the Android community would not be what it is--a vibrant, thriving community based upon open access to all and for all.[/INFO]
Your Galaxy Nexus is a flawed device, but it's an extremely powerful flawed device. The Samsung-Google-Verizon triumvirate has made the device easy to unlock, easy to flash, and easy to do just about anything your imagination can think of within the bounds of the Android operating system.
In fact, you're probably sitting there reading along a variety of threads thinking "what in the hell does that mean?" "Why would I want to flash my phone, aren't there laws against that?" "Bootloader? Radios? WTF, is this the twenties?"
But fear not intrepid Nexiian! This guide is meant for you and with one purpose in mind--translating everything regarding customizing the Galaxy Nexus into pure, plain English. By the time it's finished even a caveman can do it!And now for something completely different . . .
[WARN]Please remember--flashing, rooting, and the like are all serious endeavors. Don't mess around and be careful. If you take precautions you will be rewarded with such pleasantries as wicked boot animations, at least 35 home screens, and a battery lasting longer than a puddle in the Sahara.[/WARN]
[TIP]Top Tip #1 - Go to this link, Android Central's Android Dictionary, and read it. Then print it out, put it under your pillow, and read it some more the next morning. Trust me.[/TIP]Tapping into the Mysterious Fountain of Awesomeness: Unlocking & Rooting
The first step in discovering the awesome untapped power of the Galaxy Nexus is unlocking the bootloader and rooting the device. But what, you ask, does this mean?
The bootloader is the first "substep" to this procedure. Essentially, it's a tool--a control panel, if you will. Without access to it and to what it does, it's like being left alone in a house without access to the central heating control--you'll just sit there, cold and damp or hot and sweaty with nothing left to do. But if you get that key--if you unlock that bootloader--you can enter that room and start fooling around to a degree that you weren't able to previously.
So essentially, this piece, the bootloader, is an internal mechanism that controls your phone. Some phones have highly secure--or "locked"--bootloaders, making it nearly impossible to turn up the heat or cool down the kitchen. The Nexus, on the other hand, has a bootloader so easy to unlock that it makes you wonder why the hell they even bothered locking it in the first place.
Anywho, once unlocked, you can flash and do a variety of things--including rooting the device. Rooting is a cool term (at least I think so, but I'm used to latin and the Internal Revenue Code). Think of rooting as having a filing cabinet in an office. You, the lowly clerk, can only access file cabinet one with closed client cases. I, the superuser, can access every file cabinet, including the filing cabinet of open cases--and it is this cabinet that effectively stores everything in your business. That closed cabinet? Nice, but lacking in control.
This is rooting. When rooted, you have access to your "root" folder directory. Not just the faux/virtual SDcard, but everything. Certain apps need root access to do their magic, e.g. apps like the aptly named Root Explorer, the swiss army knife known as Titanium Backup, etc. etc. Think of it as automatic v. manual transmissions; sure, you may like letting the car do its thing, because what do you know? But you start shifting and you discover that you just might like controlling the car, and further, you like telling it what to do and what gear to be in. Rooting takes you from a 3 speed automatic to a 6 speed manual.
[TIP]Top Tip #2 - If you would like to know how to unlock/unroot, please reference the exceptional methods and guides here in this very forum. From CyberWarrior's extensive guide to everything and TitansJonne's guide for the lonesome Mac User (like my former self). Finally, if you have a Windows PC and just want to tear the bandaid off, Wug's Toolkit will do the job reliably, quickly, and without any harm to you or your psyche. Another great guide is authored by Jubakuba, who prefers the "ol hoagie way."[/TIP]04-15-2012 11:43 AMLike 31
- Flashing = Installing (And crazy things you've done but didn't realize until now...)
The bread and butter of the "Android experience"--for many--is flashing. Think of flashing as a method of installation--you're simply installing the .zip package into your phone through a "custom recovery."
Wait, what? Let's take this step by step, shall we?
Subsection A - The Backbone of Flashing: Recoveries
A custom recovery is sort of like an interface between you and a bunch of crazy numbers and words and such. Essentially, it's a go between, relaying information from you to the phone in a language the phone understands (.zip files, as mentioned). The most popular recovery out there is called ClockworkMod (CWM). Again, like anything and everything Android, CWM is the fruit of intense labor by a developer, in this case Koushik Dutta (and if you use CWM daily, monthly, or ever, then please please please donate to him).
Anywho, while using a recovery is brutally simple, you first need to acquire one. There are generally two ways to do it--by "pushing it" (in reality, flashing/installing it) through fastboot (a method beyond the scope of this guide) or by flashing it via ROM Manager. ROM Manager is another one of Mr. Dutta's wondrous creations. You can download roms, Google Applications (commonly known as "GAPPS"), or even different versions of CWM, like the CWM Touch recovery (which I highly, highly recommend). If you're a new user, I highly recommend downloading ROM Manager (and the premium license, because donating to developers is a great habit to get into) and flashing ClockworkMod from there. If you read and followed the guides featured in Top Tip #2, then you're probably bored to death right now.
Once acquired, you're ready to rock and roll. But not too crazy now, lest we bootloop.
[WARN]There is no quicker way to screw up your phone than screwing up the acquisition of a custom recovery. Whichever guide you follow, follow it carefully. While using ROM Manager may be the "easy way out," it pays dividends to have a simple, reliable program that flashes your recovery for you. Once you start flashing you'll realize how intimate you become with your recovery, getting to the point where you reboot into it just to say hello. Treat your recovery like a lady (or guy, depending on sex/persuasion), and it'll treat you just fine. Also, don't get it drunk--trust me. Only when you're familiar with the concepts discussed in this guide should you really to get it drunk/play with fastboot at an expert level.[/WARN]
Subsection B - The Zen Approach to Roms
Once you have a recovery, you're going to want to at least explore the world of roms. To put it simply, a rom is an image of an operating system, almost always a derivative of the "latest" version of Android, that has been developed, modified, customized, streamlined, massaged, fattened, and pampered by a developer or team of developers. The best analogue is car customization. Let's say you take your old Ford, say a Taurus. You drop it off with a bunch of folks at a garage, and instantly they turn it into a 400hp grocery-getting machine with machine guns, shovels, dining sets, a foldaway camper, and wings. That is what a rom does--it transforms your device, the features within your device, and takes everything (well, not everything) in your phone and changes it. Sometimes this change is good, sometimes it has bugs, and sometimes it is so good that you're just besides yourself for 15 minutes after changing the color of your softkeys and adding 16 different homescreens through a custom launcher (launcher = that thing that gets you to all of your apps, you know, by "launching" them).
Often, the most difficult "part" of the rom process is picking one. The Galaxy Nexus, if for nothing else, has an absolute abundance of roms. I mean it's like walking into a grocery store and demanding candy. What, you want a Milky Way? Check out BAMF. Snickers? CM9! More of a Reese's guy, eh? LiquidSmooth is your thing. And so on and so forth. Have that new OTA and still on a stock, but rooted rom? Jerry's got you covered!
Here's my advice in choosing a rom--do your research. Don't just download something willy-nilly. Don't pick something because the name is sick. Download something that has decent support, that has decent reviews in its own threads (both here and elsewhere), and something that seems interesting. The BEAUTY about flashing roms is how quickly it is to switch to another. Don't like BAMF? Then flash MORPHR and see what's what. Don't feel comfortable with pink unicorns? Switch from AOKP to GummyNex. Hate whatever you did to your phone? Restore that Nandroid, baby! The moral of this story is simple--do your homework.
Subsection C - Dylan's Four Flashing Commandments (DFFC for short, if anyone wants to know)
Flashing a rom is generally a "uniform" procedure. Regardless of rom, there are some key tenets to follow that help you achieve the success you want, letting you experience the sorcery of DroidTh3ory or the craftsmanship inherent in AOKP. These are practices I like to practice, preach, and prescribe, mainly because it aids both the casual rom enthusiast and the diehard flash addict.
[WARN]Lest we forget, flashing is serious business. One does not simply
walk into Mordorrevive a bricked phone. Take my advice, heed with caution, and double check before you launch for the moon.[/WARN]The First Commandment - Always Have a Backup. You Need an Exit Strategy!
One of the awesome features of CWM (or any recovery) is being able to make a backup. Commonly, this is called a Nandroid. Why? Maybe because it's a "small" version of Android, so Nano + Android = Nandroid? Meh, that's my best guess. Anyway, you should always have a backup at hand. If that means making one immediately before you start the flashing process, that's what it means. If that means making one immediately after flashing the recovery, which happens not 30 seconds after unlocking/rooting your phone, then do that.
Here's what happens if you don't have a backup. Let's say, for example, you owned a Droid Incredible. Let's say, again, you wanted to impress a friend of yours with this whole "flashing wizardry. Let's say, even further, that you decided to flash a brand new rom right in front of their eyes. The problem is, that rom is for a Thunderbolt, or the GAPPS didn't check out, or you just got really wild and wanted to flash a port of Honeycomb. Well, if you have a backup, then no harm no foul right? Just manually boot into recovery through the bootloader, restore the nandroid, and then boom.
But what if you don't? Well you could always use fastboot/adb/other mysterious techie methods of doing things, you could always pull your SDcard (but HA! not for us GN'ers!) put a rom on and flash that, or you could throw your phone into a mineshaft and hope it works in 47 years when it's finally rediscovered.
See what I'm saying? Make a freaking backup. Who cares if it takes 8 minutes. It's the best 8 minutes of your life as a flashing Android artiste, so don't screw it up.
[TIP]Top Tip #3 - For me, I have 3 backups on hand at all times--(1) Stock, (2) CM9, and (3) Whatever my latest rom is, if it has been performing well. I suggest a similar setup, but keep in mind that these badboys are sometimes a gig, sometimes more--so exercise caution. I've been blessed with a terribly overrpriced MacBook Pro, so I use its HD to store older Nandroids. There is nothing more relieving than seeing a Nandroid restore after almost screwing up your phone--trust me. So be smart, be safe, and always have an exit strategy in case of doom and damnation.[/TIP]The Second Commandment - Be Organized.
Your SDcard, virtual as it may be, is your friend. If you throw a million different things at your friend at a single time, he'll be confused, hateful, and probably annoyed, possibly resulting in physical harm to your face. The SDcard is the same way. If you start throwing a bunch of stuff on it without order/organization, you'll never find anything you need and it'll probably start texting you at night regarding that old APK of Google Wallet you left behind months ago. It may sound crazy, but trust me--organize it.
Another aspect of organization is MD5 sums. Check them. Check to see if the files you have--may they be backups, roms, GAPPS, etc., all match up. You know what happens if they don't? Death. (Maybe, probably not, but maybe!)
[TIP]Top Tip #4 - Here's how my SDcard is organized--a folder for roms with separate folders within for CM9, AXI0M, Miscellaneous; a folder for Kernels; a folder to move my backups/nandroids; and a folder for general flashing miscellany. Obviously, organize it how you would like--but get into the habit. It makes flashing a breeze and gives you confidence that if you screw up, you know where to look on your phone to find the solution.[/TIP]The Third Commandment - When in doubt, wipe.
Some users believe that not wiping their phone before flashing a rom is a sign of courage, bravery, etc. No, courage is going to battle, flying into space, or walking into IRS Headquarters on April 17th.
Wiping your phone is not hard, not particularly time consuming, and only inconveniences the impatient. There are 3 different wipes to be aware of:
First, there's the data and factory reset wipe. Think of this as taking your credit card and holding it next to a magnet---no more debt! (jk). You're erasing everything except your virtual SDcard and taking it back to stock--which is whatever rom/OS you have on there currently.
Second, there's the cache wipe. Your apps and system build up data, like cookies/viruses in Internet Explorer, and you need to wipe that. Why? Well think of it this way. Let's say you're the Washington Redskins, who, accustomed to not having a QB since the late 60's, are going to draft Robert Griffith III. Because they had no QB, they built their entire team around a frail, decrepit running back named Clinton Portis, who one time many moons ago was a nice player. Unfortunately for Mr. III, there is literally no supporting cast--the team was built around one thing, and now he's another. If you install Mr. III (the ROM) without wiping the slate (cache) clean and surrounding him with fresh opportunities to grow (no cache buildup), then there's a better chance for growth and success (no force closes, bugs, etc. etc.) So don't draft Robert Griffith III without having a fresh slate, and don't flash a rom without at least wiping your cache, or else the conflicts will drive you bonkers.
Third, there's the dalvik cache wipe. What's dalvik cache? Well, it's a few things to a few people. On one hand, it's merely a superstition, like chicken bones to Cajuns or plastic-wrapped sofas to Italians. On the other, it's a depository where applications put information to make them work faster, more efficiently, etc. etc. Believe what you will, just make sure you wipe it. Because like Mr. III in the above wipe, once you build up around something old, conflicts with something new are just around the corner.
[INFO]When flashing a rom, you may choose to dirty flash (if coming from one nightly to another nightly of the same rom) or a clean flash (if coming from one rom to an entirely different rom). Here's what I do for each...
- Wipe data/factory reset (this also wipes the cache)
- Wipe cache (just do it lol, it's good to make it habitual)
- Wipe dalvik cache (in advanced)
- Wipe system (i.e. format system in mounts/storage)
- Wipe cache
- Wipe dalvik cache (in advanced)
- Wipe system (i.e. format system in mounts/storage)
[TIP]Top Tip #5 - Wiping cache and dalvik is a relaxing exercise. Think your phone's acting a bit screwy? Wipe cache/dalvik! Not getting the battery life you wanted? Try wiping! Got nothing better to do while waiting for your boss to look over your TPS reports? You guessed it--wipe cache/dalvik! So many issues are caused by people not wiping--from force closing apps to weird little bugs like launcher lag and homescreens disappearing. So do yourself a favor--always wipe.[/TIP]The Fourth Commandment - Don't Panic.
Things happen when you flash. In fact, I'm in the camp that if you don't have at least one bootloop in your experiences then you're doing something not wrong enough (). If you don't get into trouble then you don't know how to get out of trouble, ya dig? So here are a few tips to get you out of trouble, or at the very least, assure you that your Nexus hasn't offed itself. Just remember--if you know how you got into trouble, you know you can get out....73% of the time.
- If it can turn on, it's not actually bricked. The best way to solve issues like the phone not actually starting is to manually boot into recovery, retrace your steps, and redo everything. You could even pull the battery out, have a cigarette, put it back in, and see if that works. But still, it starts, so don't say it's "bricked." Because it's not. If it's bricked, it will never turn on (probably ever) and it's an irrecoverable corpse, used for such things as paperweights and Asurion insurance claims.
- If you've been staring at a boot animation for 36 minutes, try redoing the process. The first boot animation ALWAYS takes longer than the subsequent ones. Why? Because Andy Rubin hates us and wants us to sit there with very extreme anxiety waiting to see if what we did works. So hang on to your butts, but if you're on your third cigarette and you're name's not Don Draper, then try again.
- Can't find the market? Try reinstalling GAPPS, you noob . Google Apps (Play Store, Music, etc.) are sometimes automatically included with your rom. Sometimes they're not. The rom thread or website where you downloaded your rom will say whether they have them and if not, where to get them. When you need to flash them separately, make sure you do so immediately after flashing the rom. Do not reboot, do not pass go--just flash GAPPS.
[INFO]Dylan's Flashing Procedure:
04-15-2012 11:59 AMLike 17
- Do your research, be organized, and have all of your files ready to rock.
- Have an exit strategy (a nandroid or fresh, clean, stable rom) ready to rock incase Custer decides to come back as a crack-flashing maniac.
- Reboot into recovery via ROM Manager, the Bootloader (hold down volume UP, volume DOWN, and POWER at the same time, sort of like a Mortal Kombat 2 combo), or whatever magic you've used to get there previously.
- Unless the rom thread says otherwise, do your wipes. If it's a nightly and you're on a previous nightly build, you don't necessarily need to wipe data, so it's your call. Otherwise, if it's a new rom, a major build, or if it makes a point of discussing factory resets at length in the thread, wipe data.
- After your wipes are completed, some like to Format the System (it's under Mounts & Storage for fellow CWM fans). Do this then, after you have a fresh slate (because otherwise isn't very logical).
- Install your ROM's zip file.
- Install GAPPS, if necessary. Don't you dare reboot if you need to do this!
- Reboot out of recovery.
- Enjoy a cigarette, drink, 13 minute political conversation, whatever while it reboots.
- Sign in, let market restore do its thing, and enjoy your rom.
- I Wanna Go Fast! Some Thoughts on Kernels, Governors, and Speed Limits
Think of a phone and a computer as a car--it's powered by an engine and a transmission. The engine is the CPU/internals an the transmission, in this case, is the kernel. While you may have 500hp of pure American V-8 in that car, if the only speeds you have are "drive" and "reverse," you're going to be stuck at 27 mph.
The same is true for a phone. The GN is reportedly underclocked from 1400mhz to 1200mhz. Why? Battery power, optimization, etc. etc. *insert reason here.* What that means for you, the end user, is that you have a 500hp V-8 that's firing on 6 cylinders, not 8, and you might be turning out about 350hp. While that's not bad--it's not that beastly.
Flashing a custom kernel serves to unlock the hardwares potential. You can do a variety of things with a kernel; set up the maximum amount of processing power to use, set the minimum amount of processing power to use, set different voltages, turn one CPU core off while keeping the other core on, enable fast charging, etc. -- the options really are endless.
[WARN]In case it wasn't clear, the kernel is a powerful piece of your phone. Messing with it could cause serious side effects, such as sleep/screen of death, flickering, explosion (probably not) and other weird consequences. Further, if you're a flashaholic/crackflasher/flash addict, you might use a feature called "set on boot," which makes your kernel settings "stick" once rebooted. Well, if you do use such a dangerous option, make sure to uncheck it when flashing a new rom or kernel. The havoc that set on boot causes can exceed any of its benefits!
Mess with your CPU and kernel at your own risk, lest ye walk the plank of battery pulls, matey.[/WARN]
Many kernels have a variety of "governors." Think of a governor as a gas pedal. You want to go fast only when you need to? On demand-type governors work brilliantly. You want to sip gas no matter what? Look for a conservative governor. Do you want to just go with the flow of traffic? Interactive governors are your thing.
But who cares, right? Well plenty of people do, mainly because of that pesky 4G thing we have going on in our phone. See, 4G has a separate processor. So while it's awesome, it takes to your battery like Robert Pattinson takes to Kristen Stewart's neck--somewhat violently and very quickly. Many people install kernels to preserve this precious battery power, and for the most part, kernels such as franco Kernel, imoseyen's Lean Kernel, and others have achieved this. Other kernels have an entirely different objective--instead of being fine with just 500hp, they throw on a turbo or two and bump that mother up to 800hp, all in the name of benchmarking and quadrant scores.
Regardless of what you want--bragging rights or battery power (and for some, those go hand in hand), there are many kernels out there to choose from. Make sure to do your research and find out what other users say about the kernels.
[TIP]Top Tip #6 - Installing a kernel is a breeze, but it comes with some warning. While auto-flashing through an app such as franco's Updater is a breeze, some people prefer to download the kernel (either through the app or from the interwebz) and to do some wiping. Unsurprisingly, I fall into this latter camp--I always manually download the kernel, wipe cache and dalvik in recovery, and then flash it manually. Why? Well, while I might be paranoid, I prefer to minimize my risk. A kernel is a powerful, powerful piece of your phone. It screwing up will have immediate and obvious effects. Why risk it just because you want to save 30 seconds?
That being said, franco's app is a fine app and I would not hesitate to auto-flash from it. I just don't because I'm crazy/paranoid/OCD.[/TIP]04-15-2012 11:59 AMLike 9
- Can't Phone Home? Get a New Radio!
The Galaxy Nexus, to some, is plagued by spotty reception, terribly slow transfers from WiFi to mobile data, and ghosts of Samsung's past. But it doesn't need to be that way! There is a way that you can at least attempt to improve that reception and to make it do something that's absolutely shocking in today's society--make a phone call!
To start, there are two versions of the Galaxy Nexus - a "GSM" version (think "global") and Verizon or CDMA/LTE version (think "domestic," although the GSM can be used here). The GSM version can latch onto any carrier that follows the Global System for Mobile Communications standard (see what they did there?). The CDMA version can only work on Verizon, unless you're roaming and paying $30 a second for talk time.
In the Verizon Nexus, there are essentially two levels of speed--the 4G LTE network, which can be ridiculously fast, and the 3G network which is, well, 3G. If you go into your Settings, then About Phone, you'll see that you have two radios under "Baseband." One is for LTE, one is for 3G, and both can cause some headaches.
See, CDMA is a somewhat controversial beast. It's signed/secured by Verizon, so people developing based on CDMA often have massive and inexplicable hurdles to jump--and very rarely do they actually jump them. Further, while Verizon's 4G LTE network is big and fast, it's been rather spotty in certain areas. It's "experimental" for the most part, and is something that no one should really "rely upon" unless they're in a major metro area with completely saturated coverage.
That being said, when on 4G magic truly happens. You can watch HD videos almost instantaneously, or download large files like ROMs within a matter of moments. 4G is the future but only "somewhat" the current, and this dilemma is compounded by the fact that the Nexus may--or may not--have severe signal disabilities. If you are one of those folks, you can do something about it--flash a brand spankin' new set of radios courtesy of the 4.0.4 ICS leak a couple months (February) back.
While some users report differences with the new radios, some don't. From my personal experience, I have 4G in an area in which 4G never existed, so it's either lying to me or doing its job. Either way, I prefer the 4.0.4 radios to the 4.0.2 radios.
[NOTE]But Dylan, you ask--don't I have the 4.0.4 radios because I have a 4.0.4 rom?
The short answer--no. The long answer--probably not. Essentially, roms almost never, ever, ever, ever touch the radio. The radios remain stagnant while flashing, and they must be flashed/installed separately. Often, the radios will accompany a bootloader of the same version. Some folks swear by this, others shrug it off. Because I am paranoid about anything and everything, I will not install radios without the accompanying bootloader. Like everything in life, the choice is yours.
To check to see if your radios are 4.0.2 or 4.0.4, look at the screenshot above. Are the radios on my phone the same as your phone? If so, huzzah! If not, get flashing .[/NOTE]
If you would like the 4.0.4 radios and use ClockworkMod Recovery, please go to zero neck's guide here. An esteemed colleague and fellow Advisor, zero neck has put together a tremendous radio guide, breaking down each step of the process in addition to hosting the radio files "in house," so you, the intrepid AC'er will always have a place to find them! Alternatively, if you ball out with fastboot, you're not forgotten--just go here. And lastly, if you really like to get freaky with your reception, radio hybrids exist.
[TIP]Top Tip #7 - While some advise that you don't need to wipe, remember the cardinal rules of flashing/customizing your device: (1) Always backup (or have one available), and (2) when in doubt, wipe at least cache and the dalvik cache. With radios, I wipe cache/dalvik, mainly because it takes 10 seconds and I'd rather sit through the "Android is upgrading... XX/XXX Applications" than sit there with beads of sweat on my brow wondering if I screwed up. The choice is yours.[/TIP]04-15-2012 12:00 PMLike 8
- . . . And one day, you'll be an artist--customizing the appearance of your home screen, lock screen, soft keys, and elsewhere
A neat thing about the Galaxy Nexus is that we have a pretty sick screen to stare at all day long while we're "at work," "in class," "on a date," or any other meaningless activity that separates you from quality phone time. But sometimes, we get bored. And why not? The soft keys are cool, but can be a bit boring. Live wallpaper only lasts so long before you realize that it drains the entire battery in 22 minutes. You want a change, and simultaneously, you want to express yourself in a way that a pink case simply cannot. Enter "theming."
For me, theming consists of several interacting parts--the launcher (and its correlating setup), "pre-made" or "turn-key" flash-able themes, modifying the dock/homescreen icons (though the launcher), and changing/altering the soft keys. Notice my sick-nasty HTC One-Series soft keys...
Out of everything in this guide, this is a bit discretionary. Different people enjoy different things. I for one enjoy simple home screens--a dock with 5 applications, maybe a folder, a clock/weather widget, and a nice wallpaper. I'll change up the softkeys, I'll change up the wallpaper, but generally my setups follow the same pattern. I went to law school, not design school, so I understand my limits. Other folks are far more creative than I, and if you're one of those privileged sions of artistry, strap into your seats and carry on!
Subsection A - Pre-Made Themes - Do's, Don'ts, and OMG IT'S TERRIBLE
The benefit of having a massive developer community is having a massive amount of themers that come along and alter the user interface to their liking. For most major roms--AOKP, Gummy, etc.--you'll have at least 3-4 frequently updated/modified themes going at any given time. These themes modify several files in the rom, most notably the system's user interface (UI)--they quite literally take out your silly white lockscreen and replace it with a blue one, a purple one, whatever. As such, you need to flash these in ClockworkMod using our general concepts of flashing--make sure to backup, do wipes (but not data, unless you're really, really paranoid [so yes, I've in fact done data wipes for themes, but they are not necessary ]), install the theme, and reboot into neon green, black/white, or whatever you chose.
[TIP]Top Tip #8 - While you should backup religiously, or at least have 1-3 reliable backups/nandroids on hand, backing up while theming should be mandatory. Why? Well, I've flashed about 6 themes. You know how many I liked? 2. You know how many times I had to redo everything? 4. So the moral of my misfortunes is easy--if you back up your rom immediately before flashing a theme, and you subsequently detest the theme with the fury of 10,000 hot white suns--then restore your nandroid! Problem solved--wasn't that simple?[/TIP]
Subsection B - Launchers & Dock Icons
Launchers have two purposes, at least in my book and in this guide--to launch your apps and to look cool as hell. The two big launchers out there right now are Apex and Nova. Either have my support and recommendation, particularly the newest version of Apex and Nova Prime (which is a paid app in the PlayStore--remember to donate to our devs!). Key functions of both include having a plethora of homescreens--or maybe 3, like me, having endless amounts of scrolling animations for the app drawer and homescreens, having gestures, being able to go full screen, being able to hide the notification bar, etc. etc. The features really are endless and if I were to list them here I wouldn't be finished until my Social Security kicked in (40 years for those keeping score at home).
What I truly love about them, however, is being able to (1) back them up, so that after I flash a rom I can simply restore the backup and have my setup right there on the phone within an instant, and (2) being able to change icons with a longpress of the current application icon. Note that this is only applicable to dock icons; the app tray icons, unless themed, will usually betray your selection and revert to the default (but if that default is themed then that will be the icon that's shown).
The reason this feature is awesome should be obvious: you don't need to flash, reboot, etc. to substantially change the look of your phone. Heck, you could even download an app like SimpleText, create your own text icons, save them, long press, select, and boom! You're an artist! I've done this countless times and it always brings a bit of joy to my cold black heart when I see how awesome my own work can be with such an amazing application. So if text icons are your thing, then please, take advantage of that app!
Further, like themers, developers, etc., there are tons of people out there making icons. The best place to look are in homescreen threads. Find one you like, and ask the poster--hey dude, can I cop those icons? You wouldn't believe how much you can find through simply admiring others' work--it really is an awesome, badass aspect of the Android community (IMO, of course).
Subsection C - ZipThemer and the Joys of Having Your Way With Soft keys
Depending on how much you love or hate the Galaxy Nexus, one thing is irrefutable--softkeys are the future. The stock soft keys are "flat," futuristic looking silhouette icons--back, home, and recent apps respectively. With custom roms come the option to add a search soft key, a menu soft key, and to rearrange or color the soft keys any way you like. Recent roms, such as AOKP B31, feature the ability to place apps and different icons in the "navigation bar," thus forever changing the course of humanity.
But if you're like me, you want something a bit different. Staring at the same setup day after day gets boring, and let's be honest, if you're reading this thread the idea or thought of changing your soft keys probably entered your mind daily. For me, I prefer one method--ZipThemer.
ZipThemer is a neat little sucker. It's an app, free from the Play Store, that takes a .zip file and configures it to your rom. Remember how I mentioned the systemUI above with regards to turn-key themes? It's like the same concept with ZipThemer--it changes the systemUI, replacing the stock soft keys with the custom soft keys of your choice. It really is an awesome application, and again I suggest you download it and donate to the devs. We need them, they need us, and eventually we can all realize the dream of a happy, peace-loving culture where everyone owns an Android.
[INFO]To use ZipThemer, a few steps must be taken:
- You must "update" or "configure" edify to your current rom or flashable zip theme (once applied). How do you do that? Simple; hit the menu button, go to update edify, and select your rom's .zip file or the .zip file of your applied theme. Once it says "Success!" in 3 point font at the bottom, you're configured.
- Find the .zip of the softkeys. Make sure you downloaded a zip that says it's flashable via ZipThemer, or else you're just wasting your time. Press +Theme and find and select that .zip.
- Press "Build It." It'll ask you whether to make an undo zip; unless you like making 8 minute, 1.3 gig nandroids every time you change your softkeys, do this.
- Reboot into recovery, wipe cache/dalvik (why? Because you're safe, that's why).
- Install/flash the .zip that ZipThemer created. It has the word "update" in it, along with the file name of your soft key package. It'll be in the main /sdcard directory, along with the undo .zip.
- Reboot as normal, wait for everything to update.
- If you hate the soft keys, go back into recovery, do your wipes, and flash the undo zip. Huzzah, no more custom soft keys!
[WARN][/WARN]04-15-2012 12:00 PMLike 20
- sicario666AndroidSkullExcellent guide dmm. Very impressive. It seems you've slammed some serious time and effort into this guide. Is there a way to work in a sound when loading this page? For example. The doors opening in the hitchhikers guide. "Aaaaahhhhhhhh"
Dropped from LiquidNexus via XparentTapatalk204-15-2012 09:53 PM
Dropped from LiquidNexus via XparentTapatalk204-15-2012 10:03 PM
- JohnlyRetired Moderator04-15-2012 10:17 PM
- oxymoronIt's been real...Damn.... Wall. Of. Text.
A very nice wall of text though. Thanks for taking the time to do this. I'm going to give a buddy of mine on G+ a link to it. He's about ready to pull the trigger on Modding his Nex, and this would be VERY helpful to him.
Good job dude.
*customized tapatalk signature*04-16-2012 09:46 AM
- 04-16-2012 11:48 AM
On a serious note, I'm want to play around with ZIP Themer, where is a good place to go to get soft keys?04-16-2012 12:13 PM
There's an XDA thread that I've used. I suggest Googling XDA Galaxy Nexus Soft keys, that should get you where you want to go.04-16-2012 12:16 PM
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