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Custom Features Without a Custom ROM

In my previous post I talked about custom ROMs, which allow you to totally replace your copy of Android. I noted that it was a wonderful way for owners of orphaned phones to keep up-to-date with the latest release of Android, and I proved that by installing KitKat on my ancient Samsung Galaxy S Captivate.

However, what if you have a phone that IS presently still supported by the manufacturer and you don’t want to loose certain features that are only available in the official release? For example, owners of many new Samsung Galaxy phones would have to give up the incredible camera software. But at the same time you’d love to get your hands on some of the great tweaks offered by a custom ROM, such as 180-degree screen rotation for example.

For owners of ROOTED phones, there is a way to get these tweaks without replacing your ROM. This is made possible by an app called the XPOSED FRAMEWORK. On its own it doesn’t provide any actual tweaks, but rather installs a platform on which 3rd-party developers can write those tweaks. Often these appear as stand-alone applets that can be installed from Google Play, or from directly within XPOSED using their mini app store. Sometimes full-blown apps use the services of XPOSED to implement things they’d otherwise have been unable to. A recent example is Bubble UPnP (a DLNA server/caster) that uses XPOSED to allow you to cast audio from virtually any 3rd party app.

The framework isn’t available through the Google Play Store, because it violates one of the rules (as did the installer for CyanogenMod). Fortunately, you can download it directly from the XPOSED developers. Just side-load the app, reboot your phone, and you’re good to go. Your next step might be to browse their mini app store...



to see what’s available. Take care when selecting which applets to use however, because many of them have been written for specific manufacturers’ ROMs. This is because they target specific functionality provided only by those ROMs.

The tweaks you can use vary depending upon which phone you own, but they often include the usual batch of things provided by custom ROMs. Activating 180-degree screen rotation is available to just about any phone, and this is one of the features I wanted for myself. I don’t often have to turn my phone up-side-down, but there are circumstances where I need the USB cable at the top, or the headset jack at the bottom, and being able to rotate the screen 180 degrees allows that.

Other tweaks that I personally use on my Samsung Galaxy S4 include:

– Change the color of the clock to yellow to better highlight it
– Remove the battery icon (as I don’t need it and a battery percentage simultaneously)
– Disable the annoying BATTERY CHARGED sound that is common in all TouchWiz phones
– Disable the stupid reminder of how I can clear a default each and every time I set one
– Change the signal indicator from 4 bars to 6 bars
– Disable the warning Samsung puts up any time you try to increase the volume to full
– Disable boot sound
– Disable volume control sound
– Enable expanded reboot menu (allowing me reboot into Recovery Console or Download Mode)

In reality I didn’t really tweak my phone all that much, despite how long that list might seem. There are countless things that 3rd-party applets allow you to tweak, and the list keeps growing day by day. If you have a rooted phone, you really haven’t got anything to loose in trying out this wonderful tool.

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