Notes from inside TouchWiz ATT S4 SGH-I337

The Heimdall stock flash worked, in that it got the OS reinstalled on the phone.  GPS never seemed to work.  TowelRoot still works. To get “Wireless Hotspot & Tether” working I installed WanamXposed and if I recall correctly “X Tether” module.  Anyhow, this all worked on Bell up north.

There is another version of the stock image called “337UCUFNB1_100%_Stock” which can be rooted also with TowelRoot, this module and some of the Google Play Edition TW /SafeStrap ports of the SGH-I9505 also worked with GPS.

Currently here’s what I’m running / the process:

1) SafeStrap (has to be installed over a stock rooted ROM, ODIN, Hemidall, etc).

2) Advanced wipe everything but the SD card with the installer data on it (ROM, NB1 modem modules, SU Update).

3) Graviton S4 v3.2 for SafeStrap (4.4.2 NB1).

4) [MOD][Script] SmartDebloater [4.3-4.4] (note: don’t remove Samsung Calendar as TW requires it, I also left the camera and calculator)

To get the Google Now Launcher to work correctly as the default (and not TouchWiz Home) I installed Nova Launcher, disabled the Google Now Launcher, set Nova to default, and then re-updated/installed the Google Launcher.

I installed Wanam Xposed, a few modules, and GravityBox.  Graviton has a number of tweaks baked in.  I tried the “SlimSung NI1 ROM” but the radio seemed screwy since it was built for the NI1 update, the NB1 radio seems okay in Graviton, GPS and wifi seem to work fine.

Quickoffice isn’t available on the Play Store anymore, but this link goes to a Google support page, that launches a “browser only” Play Store whereby you can install the app to your device via the web play store interface.  Worked for me anyhow.  I’m sure the APK is available somewhere as well.  All other apps can be installed via the Play Store.

GravityBox has a tweak whereby you can set the double-click behavior of the home button to launch Google’s Voice Search which is nice.  The Google Now Launcher swipes left-to-right from the home screen to get to Google Now.  You could also just leave “Google Now Listening” on from all screens.

Another nice GravityBox tweak is changing the number of home screen icons to display, the stock GNL is 4×4 which looks huge on the S4, I think 5×5 or even 6×6 means you might only need a single page.

The one “feature” of TouchWiz which seems impossible to get around is the ability to take photos from the lock screen while using a PIN or password unlock.  I’ve tried nearly every conceivable hack, it simply doesn’t work.  If you have no security (e.g. swipe unlock) you can take photos, but any sort of PIN or pass means you have to unlock to get to the camera.  Oh well.  The S4 camera seems pretty decent, definitely an upgrade from the N4.  Probably not from the 5S.

 

Heimdall AT&T S4 Mavericks

This post should help you recover an AT&T Galaxy S4 SGH-I337 back to stock 4.4.2 using a modern 64 bit version of OS X, I tried 32 bit 10.6.8 and Heimdall wouldn’t run, so I presume you need OS X 10.7 64bit and above to run Heimdall.

First off, you need to uninstall Samsung Kies so Heimdall has USB access to the S4 drivers, it will require a reboot and possibly command line uninstalls:

Secondly, you need your recovery file.  I used the big ass stock file from Stockroms (dot) net /file /GalaxyS4 /SGH-I337 /4.4.2 /”the big one there”.  You’ll need to rename it to just .tar, then untar that file, and put it in a folder from which you’ll run Heimdall.

Third, install Heimdall.

Read through this post over on XDA:

Follow the OP’s steps, but see 8d) below:

linus$ heimdall flash --RECOVERY recovery.img --SYSTEM system.img.ext4 --HIDDEN hidden.img.ext4 --BOOT boot.img
linus$ heimdall flash --MDM modem.bin --APNHLOS NON-HLOS.bin --ABOOT aboot.mbn --TZ tz.mbn
linus$ heimdall flash --CACHE cache.img.ext4 --PERSDATA persdata.img.ext4
linus$ heimdall flash --SBL1 sbl1.mbn --SBL2 sbl2.mbn --SBL3 sbl3.mbn --RPM rpm.mbn

Sudo doesn’t seem necessary. I added that 4th line per Trevor7.  Thanks to tom_callahan for the original post, for which all things considered made this quite painless for an Android wipe.

As the original poster said, each push will require a boot back into Odin’s Download Mode, hold the ‘volume down & home’ buttons in between reboots as soon as the screen goes black, then press volume up to ‘continue’.  After step #4 you’ll want to boot to the stock Recovery Mode (volume up on boot) and do a “Factory Reset / User Data Wipe”; this will insure you’re good to go.

It should boot to an AT&T logo with a startup sound, it will take a couple of minutes, then you should be back to stock TouchWiz / AT&T bloated stock 4.4.2.  Godspeed.

Update: I updated the above lines.  It should be noted I’ve had issues with the GPS since this flash.  I have been able to make it work again using a GPE “vanilla” edition with a modified TW kernel, but it’s unclear why the GPS wouldn’t work on what should’ve been a fully stock ROM (NB1 vs NC1 rootability or kernel incompatibilities?).  There is apparently a way (using Windows and Samsung KIES) to do a full recovery per the manufacturer.  I haven’t tried this method yet.  For the time being, I was excited to have GPS working, albeit with a fairly unstable AOSP/GPE/Vanilla ROM.  My hope of hopes would be to get this back to fully stock 4.4.2 NB1 and sell it, fully functional 100%.  That may be wishful thinking.

 

Android 2.2 Wifi > Bluetooth : bridge & tether DUN

This isn’t a common situation, but without root it seems you cannot share or rebroadcast a given SSID using your Android’s wireless chipset, however, using PdaNet, you can share a wifi signal via bluetooth with a laptop or another device running PdaNet.

So there, I hope that’s the answer you are gøøgling right now.

Once paired successfully over bluetooth, on the client laptop you’ll need to enter “123″ as the dial up phone number in the DUN settings.

You are welcome.

One good reason

One good reason I’ve found to stick with Android is this:

RedPhone by Whisper Systems

In case you don’t feel like reading about it, it’s a free (for personal use) end-to-end encrypted VOIP client.  There may be other methods out there, including personal Asterix PBXs, but this seems to work with the least fuss. Google Voice may or may not work with it I believe, as native SMS’ing must be working by default on the phone.  To test I used my native phone number instead of my GV number, it worked fine over data.

Also for Android, AGP offers OpenPGP compatibility and the K-9 Mail client app then integrates the GPG functionality.

Bingo. Bango.

UPDATE: As of late November 2011 it appears RedPhone has been pulled from the Android Market and the app itself can no longer connect to Whisper Systems’ servers.  The application was in Beta, so this could mean there is a full release coming out or perhaps something required that it be pulled from the Android Market.  So for right now, I’m unaware of any other end-to-end encrypted VOIP applications for Android.

Thom Yorke: Bok Bok & Roska Remix of Modeselektor’s ‘Art & Cash’

Thom Yorke - The Twist (Unreleased Excerpt) + Art&Cash (PHON.O Rmx)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPiA8-qekRo

C liked this. So did I. Pretty killer. Here’s the full mix streaming/download, with some glitches during the playback presumably to limit reuse (full link: Electronic Battle Weapons Xfm Music: Response: Thom Yorke MoneyBack Mix 2011.09.15).

More Modeselektor,’Art & Cash’:

Modeselektor - Art & Cash
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wM0oz5rlHE

On a totally different note, if you use Google Reader it’s never a bad idea to backup your RSS feed to an OPML / XML file, you know, just in case they pull that plug.

Virgin, VOIP & the LG

As a follow-up, after a couple of months using the LG Optimus V (on Virgin Mobile) I’d say for the cost, it works as well as can be expected. When you stray too far from the highway 3G and 1X data often disappear completely. Sometimes the 3G radio doesn’t refresh (which apparently is a bug in Android 2.2, but this phone certainly exhibits it) so in a spotty 3G location it takes a few minutes to find the data signal. Again, for $25/month this seems acceptable. A higher end smartphone, or an iPhone, cost closer to $90/month. Depends what you need as an end user, but Z & I find it totally acceptable, especially considering the cost savings and Google integration.

The downside of the $25/month plan is only 300 “anytime” cellular minutes (and no free night/weekend minutes). To get around this I’ve registered my Sipgate One phone number with the Nimbuzz app for Android. When I have a quality wifi connection I disable all cellular radios (Airplane Mode). To make an outgoing call I use the Google Voice Callback app, so I must first answer the call in Nimbuzz (Sipgate has free incoming calls like a landline) and then it connects me to whomever I’m calling. I tried using SipDroid and CSIPsimple, but neither worked consistently. For whatever reason, Sipgate and Nimbuzz work better together.

As far as apps that make the small screen on this phone more usable, I really like the Miren Web Browser over the stock Android Browser. For one, you can easily go in and out of full screen mode. Secondly, it’s easy to turn off images over 3G to improve browsing speeds. For a while I searched high and low for a decent RSS reader app to sync to Google Reader, and finally I realized a better browser would really make the difference, and I was right. Miren using Google Reader’s mobile page is quite usable and is much quicker than any of the other stand alone “readers” I tried. Thirdly, the stock Android Browser didn’t support HTML5 audio and video tags correctly, Miren seems to handle these better and is much quicker than Opera Mobile.

While certainly not Siri on the iPhone 4S, Android’s ‘Speech to Text’ functionality works quite well. I’ve taken to using it for sending short SMS’s and for dictating short emails, especially while walking. The touch keyboard isn’t great, especially on a screen this size. Swype is better for some things but I find the predictive standard 2.2 keyboard to be a little bit faster. Again, I think the dictation engine is clearly the “way forward” but right now on this phone, it can be a little sluggish at times.

I think if you’re willing to accept these limitations this phone is a terrific value. I’m pretty sure the Optimus V can be bought outright for ~$100. Virgin’s $25/month plan increased recently to $35/month and for $45/month you get 1200 minutes (with “unlimited SMS & data”). So again, it’s still significantly less expensive (per annum) than any of the other carriers, but you must be willing to accept potentially sub-optimal cellular coverage and a smallish screen on a slightly underpowered phone. But it works. And I have been quite happy to have unlimited calling on Wifi. So there you go.

Note of full disclosure: I bought my LG Optimus V at retail price using my own funds. I have no stake in LG, Sprint Nextel or Virgin Mobile. This is simply a blog post about a phone.

I Can Blink

C turned me on to Blink, a very high quality SIP communications package, which just happens to be GNU General Public Licensed, v3. With Android 2.2 and Google Voice I’ve been forced to use a mix-mash of modes to make cSipSimple work reliably. Part of the issue is forwarding phones. With Google Voice I am now forwarding to Gmail, Virgin Mobile, and now SIPgate One. When I turn off all cellular communcations in theory cSipSimple should be the only phone to ring, and in theory it shouldn’t use mobile anytime minutes.

I managed to get this to work on the PEAP encrypted 802.1x Wifi on campus, so in theory at home it should work fine. ICE/STUN with NAT seems to help call quality. The SIPGate iOS application also seems to work fine, though sometimes there is a bit of crackling not present on SIP>SIP calls using other clients.

A third option, which may or may not be in the works at the Googleplex [sic] is the integration of SIP directly to Google Voice. Google was likely testing this functionality as Dan York wrote in his blog, however, it appears Google pulled the plug on it publicly. It would be incredibly convenient to not have to route via the PSTN for Google Voice because as Dan mentions, the calls are already IP based, if only they could stay that way Google Voice users would have higher quality calls and an easier time of it. To test if you have any SIP functionality, plug in +1xxxxxxxxxx@sip.voice.google.com, where that number is your GV number.

Cutting Cords & the Best Deal Going

So I finally got another Android phone. This time I think it’ll stick. My little prepaid Nokia 2330 on T-Mobile was finally proving itself too expensive, especially in comparison to the current deal Virgin Mobile has with the LG Optimus V Android phone. For $25/month I now get 300 minutes of talk and unlimited SMS and data. Not that SMS matters too much since I use Google Voice as my carrier, but nonetheless, it’s nice not having to pay $0.10 per SMS as I did using T-Mobile Prepaid (which will soon be owned by Bell/AT&T).

Like all Android phones Google Voice integrates very well. The Optimus V runs a mostly stock version of Froyo, Android’s version 2.2 OS. Compared to the Huwaie Ideos (T-Mobile Comet) that I owned briefly, the LG Optimus V is fast. That’s not saying much, but the phone has been very usable so far. There are are a few things that are not as polished as iOS 4.x (on our iPod Touch), but the fact that it can make and receive phone calls, a feat I was unable to replicate consistently using the iPod Touch save for making Skype Out calls, makes it worth the $25/month.

My latest effort to avoid using up my 300 minutes of talk time while I’m at home is getting SIP to work. It’s a similar idea to Skype, except you’re not paying Microsoft for your minutes. Unlimited Skype outgoing usually works out to about $3/month. With a free SIP number from SIP Gate One I can reroute calls via Google Voice to the SIP number while I’m at home using Wifi.

If I’m on the computer I’ll usually make calls via the Gmail Gchat voice call-out function. The best Android SIP client I found so far is CSipSimple. It is in active development, works well, and requires significantly less setup than SIPdroid. Android’s “Gingerbread” OS update (2.3.x) actually integrates SIP calling natively into the mobile operating system. Sadly, it seems most carriers do not push for the latest updates on their phones, and with the exception of the flagship models or “Google Phones” like the Nexus One and Nexus S, you’ll need to root/flash the phone yourself if you want 2.3, if there is even a stable port for your phone.

So those are my first impressions. I’ll write more about the LG Optimus V and SIP as I get some more use out of it.

Virgin Mobile's LG Optimus V

Virgin Mobile's LG Optimus V