Update: June 19, 2014 Android 4.4.4 has been released, fixing a small security bug in 4.4.3. The factory images have already been made available to all current-generation Nexus devices, and I've linked them out below. This does not affect the process depicted, you can still use these same steps to bring your device up to date with this latest release.
Stock Android is a great experience, and it's probably one of the biggest reasons that people purchase a Nexus device over other Android phones. Without carrier or manufacturer modifications to the core software, the entire user interface feels a lot more clean and snappy, and this also means that developers encounter fewer compatibility issues when creating flashable ZIPs and custom ROMs.
It's hard enough to keep tabs on the battery life of one device, let alone all of the different gadgets that a typical consumer owns in this day and age. Say your smartphone is running low on juice, so you switch to your tablet only to find out that it's almost dead as well. Better hope your laptop is fully charged, right?
Google Keyboard, which comes pre-installed on Nexus devices (and is available for all others from the Play Store), is one of the most functional keyboards currently available for Android. With features like gesture-based typing, next-word prediction, and even text expansion macros, it's a very capable form of text input.
Losing important data is the modern-day equivalent of misplacing your wallet or keys. We have tons of vital information stored in our digital worlds, and losing any of it can be devastating. But if you've accidentally deleted something important from your Android device, there's still hope.
One of the most common complaints about the Nexus line of devices is that they don't have expandable memory.
It's really amazing how much you can do with root access on an Android device. From various themes to porting exclusive funtionality from other devices, the power of Superuser privileges is truly awesome.
Okay, so you're rooted and need to return your Nexus 5 to its stock firmware. Whether it's because you need to send your phone in to the manufacturer to fix a defect or you just want to use the device's over-the-air updating feature, unrooting and returning your Nexus 5 back to its fresh-out-of-the-box state is a fairly simple process with the right tools.
How many times have you witnessed a beautiful moment that you would have loved to capture on film, only to watch it slip away as you struggled to unlock your phone and open your camera app?
When I got my first smartphone, it didn't take long before my friends and I created a game that we liked to call "Paste-Send." You see, instead of having to use T9 to type out text messages, the touch-based interface made copying and pasting incredibly easy. So that meant we could copy a piece of text, then paste it into text messages in rapid succession to text bomb the annoyed recipient. It was all in good fun, of course, and it usually evoked a stream of swear words from the guy on the oth...
The level of customization that Android has to offer is insane. You can replace the stock keyboard and home screen with any third-party app of your choosing, allowing core experiences to be tailored to fit your needs.
Losing your phone is a much bigger ordeal today than it was just 10 years ago. Our smartphones carry with them lots of sensitive data that, in the wrong hands, is capable of being used for identity theft and fraud.
Emojis, smilies, emoticons—whatever you prefer to call them, these fun little guys can bring a text-based conversation to life. If you're worried that someone's sarcasm meter might be broken, just toss in a wink at the end of your message. Or perhaps you can't quite put your sentiment into words, but one of these little graphics suits the moment perfectly.
Google's new camera app has a highly innovative and unique feature dubbed Lens Blur, and the most interesting thing about it is not necessarily what it does, so much as how it does it.
It's time. You've experimented with apps from the Play Store, you've switched your lock screen, and maybe you've taken different launchers out for a spin. If, throughout your tinkering, you've found yourself chanting, "More. More. Give me more!" then now is the time. It's time to root.
Google has finally released the next version of the world's leading operating system—Android 6.0 Marshmallow. This latest iteration isn't as much of a visual overhaul as Lollipop was, but it packs in more new functionality than almost any update before it. Awesome features like Now on Tap, granular permissions control, and a deep sleep battery-saving feature called Doze round out the highlights, but there is far more to it than that.
Deep down at the core of Android lies the system kernel, which serves as a bridge between software and hardware. Custom kernels can be installed in place of the stock offering, and these are generally optimized for better performance or increased battery efficiency.
When the Nexus 5 debuted, one of its coolest features was the fact that you could say "OK Google" any time you were on the home screen to launch a Google Voice Search. This feature was ultimately made available for other devices by way of the Google Now Launcher.
As much as app developers would like to simplify things with icons and visual cues, text is still a huge part of a smartphone's interface. Much of our media consumption is text-based, and while Google's Roboto font is a beautiful typeface, a little variety here and there certainly wouldn't hurt.
Many Nexus 6 owners, myself included, have already started to experience the dreaded burn-in issues that often come with AMOLED display technology. These displays are different than your typical LCD screen in that each pixel emits its own light instead of using a backlight, so this leaves AMOLED screens more susceptible to issues with dim or unresponsive pixels.
For my money, one of the greatest improvements brought about from the smartphone revolution is the advent of visual voicemail. No longer do we have to slog through dial menus or trudge through every single message to get to the next. We can just look at our messages, right there on our screens, organized neatly like emails or text messages.
The majority of Android web browsers carry a "desktop mode" feature that makes mobile websites look like normal computer versions. Mobile versions are designed to work faster and more efficiently on smartphones, but sometimes the desktop version looks better on large displays or has additional features not included in the mobile one.
App-locking apps have been around for a while, but none have had quite the panache of developer Fazil Kunhamed's latest offering, Oops! AppLock. While others use a PIN or password to restrict access to apps that are installed on Android, AppLock uses a stealthy volume button combo.
Every phone has its issues and quirks, and the Nexus 5 is no exception to this rule. One of the most common troubleshooting questions asked by its owners is "Why does my Nexus 5 keep shutting off or restarting?" where the device suddenly decides to reboot or power off randomly on its own.
Android's auto brightness feature was recently updated, and as of version 5.0, a new "Adaptive brightness" feature was added. This allows users to set a preferred overall brightness level, but still have the ambient light sensor adjust the backlight accordingly.
If you've ever attempted to report a bug to a developer, no doubt you've heard the response, "Get a logcat." This is infinitely important to a developer because of the fact that a logcat captures a full report of every command that was recently executed on your Android device, and it allows them to see exactly where something went wrong.
You know what's awesome? You own a Nexus. That means, with Google's blessing, you have easier access and control over your device than other manufacturers allow. You can really dig in and do some interesting things if you root.
When it comes to theming your Android device, it's the little things that matter most. Whether you're tweaking your navigation buttons or changing the color of system menus, no theme is complete until even the smallest element matches the rest of your color palette.
When you see a color depicted on your computer, smartphone, or tablet, odds are it was processed as a hex triplet before it was rendered. Most modern websites and operating systems use a hexadecimal coding system to signify certain colors, and these are represented as 6 letters and numbers.
Straight out of the box, the Nexus 5 is an awesome device, but even it can be faster with better battery life. Luckily, one of the things that makes it so awesome is that there are tons of developers creating mods for it, since it runs stock Android by default. When it comes to gaining speed and better battery life, flashing a custom kernel is the way to go.
Some apps have a nasty habit of ignoring your Android's auto-rotation settings and locking the display into either portrait or landscape orientation.
The launch of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean was also the launch of Google Now, a service that was supposed to one-up Siri, the resident personal assistant for iOS devices. Google Now offered enticing features, but its launch went unnoticed by a great many Android users.
Chrome's Incognito Mode is a great feature for folks that don't want their browsing history tracked. When it's enabled, Incognito Mode makes sure that all cookies and cache that are saved while you're browsing are deleted as soon as you leave a webpage.
A new API in Android Lollipop allows apps to color the status bar to match their overall theme. Google billed this as a more immersive user experience that allows app developers to extend their color branding even further. It certainly seems like a win-win on the surface, but unfortunately, not many apps are using this feature yet.
One of Android's strengths when compared to other mobile operating systems is its ability to set third-party apps as the default handler of certain file types. Instead of being stuck with pre-installed system apps when it comes to opening files and links, you're free to choose a better-fitting alternative.
It seems like custom Google Now commands are a dime a dozen these days. With Commandr for Google Now giving non-rooted users their first taste of custom voice commands just a couple weeks ago, you may wonder why we're covering this subject again.
One of the best things about the Nexus line of devices is the ease with which one can achieve root. Plug your phone into your PC, download a couple files, type a few commands, and you can be rooted within 30 minutes. No muss, no fuss, no carrier-locked bootloaders.
Aside from the newer HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5, the Nexus 5 still has one of the fastest processors on the market today. However, despite its superpowers, some graphically intensive games can still have a bit of lag to them during gameplay.
Just about every softMod requires some kind of reboot. Whether it's because something in the System UI was changed, or because a ZIP needs to be flashed in custom recovery.
If you've been keeping up with anything Android these days, you've no doubt heard about a little dandy called Xposed Framework kicking around. Xposed, by XDA developer rovo89, is a framework for Android devices that lets you easily modify your stock or custom ROM.