Adding Android 4.2 features to a rooted device without updating
Jelly Bean 4.2
Android Jelly Bean 4.2 is out. Google has finally finished their next round of updates for the Android platform. Take note that this update is still labeled under Jelly Bean and not yet a jump to a dessert that starts with “K”.
The update is very minor, including bug fixes as well as optimization to speed and performance. It also adds a few cool features in the camera and keyboard application as well as updated system apps like the new Gmail app for Jelly Bean 4.2.
The new feature called Photo Sphere was inspired by the concept of Street View, where you have a 360 degree image from a certain point in space. Photo Sphere brings with it a new way of taking photos of your environment, and of course, a new way of sharing it to the world.
We all know how these updates take time, and many of us won’t be able to play around with this feature just yet because we still have to wait for updates from the manufacturer or carrier. In the very near future, only Nexus devices are expected to be able to make use of the new stuff.
That is the case if Android is closed source. Since the whole operating system has been built on an Open source initiative, independent developers such as sharingan92 were able to extract and repackage this feature for other devices to enjoy. This means that your device running Jelly Bean 4.1 can also make use of the feature before you even get the version 4.2.
As with many tweaks and ports that require messing with system files, this port requires your device to be rooted. It also dictates that you would need a custom recovery, preferably Clockwork Mod.
Many users have tested this feature, so we now know that the feature also has a hardware requirement. It would seem that smartphones with no built in Gyroscope cannot make use of the new camera features in Jelly Bean 4.2.
Step 1. Transfer to SD
First, you need to copy the necessary file to your SD card. Copy the “4.2Camera_t04.zip” file to any directory within your SD card. I suggest placing it on the root directory or on a folder you would easily recognize to prevent the hassle of digging through your files just to flash it.
Step 2. Root and access custom recovery
As mentioned earlier, the new feature requires you to be rooted, so make sure you root your device first. The file you will download from the developer site is a ZIP file that is installed through the recovery menu.
There are some that already tried to install this through the stock recovery. It never worked. You really need to have a custom recovery for the installation to work on your device.
For this example, we will make use of the Clockwork Mod custom recovery. At this point, you need to boot your device in recovery mode. This varies per device, so please consult your manuals and device specific instructions.
On some phones, such as Samsung’s devices, you would need to turn off the device first. Press and hold the volume up, then the home key and finally the power key. You would end up pressing all three together in this sequence. Wait for about 8 seconds, and then release the buttons. This takes you to your recovery menu.
Your custom recovery would have a set of menus such as these:
Step 3. Make a Backup
It is strongly suggested that you make a Nandroid backup at this point. You want to be able to restore your device back to normal in case things didn’t go so well for you after the installation. To make a Nandroid backup, you would need to access the “Backup/Restore” option in your recovery, and then choose the option that says “Backup”.
Step 4. Flash from SD
Instructions may differ depending on the custom recovery used, but the option that you need to look for is generally the same. You need to look for the option that says “install zip from SD” or “flash zip from sd card” and then choose the option that says “choose zip from sdcard” or something to that effect.
It should take you to the list of files available from your SD card. Navigate to the place where you copied the “4.2Camera_t04.zip” file and select it. Choose to install the file, and it should go through the installation process smoothly.
Once the installation is done, let’s check if things did work as we wanted. You should now reboot the device.
Step 5. Prepare for Photo Sphere
When you reboot your device and access your app tray, you would notice that there are now two camera apps and two gallery apps. The new camera and gallery works together to make Photo Sphere work. It is recommended that you uninstall, delete or simply freeze the old system apps.
It is unknown what the current connection is for this setting, but it would seem that some Force Closes are averted if you change your language settings to English (United States).
Step 6. Enjoy! … or not
Once you are done, simply try it out. Some people were able to make it all work, while some couldn’t. It has been determined that the actual phone and ROM version are two factors that affect the current compatibility of the port. You would just have to try it out yourselves to see if it works for you.
Even in phones that do work, it is not a perfect port. The developer urges more patient members of the forum to wait for the update for the APK tool to support Android 4.2.
Here are some samples from people who have been able to make the port work on an international Samsung Galaxy S3:
In case the installation did not work out so well for you, simply restore your backup from the recovery menu.
The developer sharingan92 was able to gather a few more ports of some system apps from the Nexus 4, including the new keyboard with swipe typing, desk clock, Play Store and Play Music, as well as the new Gmail app.
Simply head over to the developer forum at XDA Developers and go to his thread at:
Home > Android Development and Hacking > Android Apps and Games > [ANDROID] [4.2] + [NEXUS 4] Mega Thread!! [NOV4]
Read and contribute to the discussion to help in successfully porting these features over. Of course, this will all be available once our manufacturers update to 4.2 Jelly Bean. This only satiates those who want to try it out earlier than the rest of the world.