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Google Dialer

Google Dialer

Since November 2015 Google updates their Google Dialer application via the Play Store. The Open GApps scripts already supported the inclusion of Google Dialer as a package already before that, in October 2015. But the Google Dialer app faced many problematic issues at the time. I.e. before Google released their Play Store version, installing the Google Dialer would not work on any custom ROM. Because of these issues Google Dialer was not included in the regular Open GApps packages.

In March 2016 we finally enabled, after some testing with the Play Store version, the Google Dialer as an optional extra. Using the DialerGoogle keyword users could install with the dialer to experiment on their device. The feedback from users was that on Nexus devices it worked, but on almost all non-Nexus devices there were problems. But even on Nexus devices, it was obligatory to manually set Google Dialer as the default Phone app, otherwise the device would reboot when making or receiving a phone call.

Instructions how to set the Google Dialer as default phone app

Fast forward to April 2016, and more changes have been applied to DialerGoogle. It ain’t a special keyword anymore, but now acts as a regular include/exclude keyword. Also DialerGoogle has been split into a supporting DialerFramework package, that includes the Framework-files. While DialerGoogle is only in stock and larger, these Framework-files are included in all package variants. The Framework-files are required to be able to install Google Dialer from the Play Store, without them any device is deemed incompatible. The DialerFramework is obligatory if you want to install the DialerGoogle package (if you are using a gapps-config).

DialerFramework is only installed on white-listed devices, currently this white-list only includes Nexus Devices. You can override the white-list using the forcedialer keyword.

It is important to note, that the DialerFramework only receives any security updates if you update your Open GApps installation and not via the Play Store. So make sure to update your Open GApps installation at least once a month, after Google’s monthly security updates are added to the Open GApps repository.

Statistics update

It was time to crunch again some updated numbers from the opengapps.org website and the pre-built packages downloads. To gather the stats I wrote some better tools (Python instead of my old shell scripts) that fetch the data from the GitHub API, so future updates will be more easy.

OpenGApps.org

The average amount of unique daily visitors at opengapps.org is according to Google Analytics around 55k. The amount of ad-blockers used is way over 50%. No surprise there with our tech-savvy crowd, luckily some people do contribute by donating instead, for which I am very grateful! By multiplying the amount of downloads of each package variant with its size we were also able to find out how many bytes of packages are downloaded everyday: 30TiB, happy to be hosted by GitHub’s cloud! So, what packages are being downloaded? I compiled two sets of data, lifetime stats and those of March 2016, below.

Lifetime Architectures

lifetime architectures

In this chart we see the architectures. Clearly ARM is still most popular. But ARM64 is gaining ground and also x86 is becoming more frequent. x86_64 Doesn’t exist that long and has such little share that it is marked as Other by Google Fusion Tables.

Lifetime APIs

lifetime apis

It is visible that 6.0 gained ground very quickly in the total number of downloads. One major reason is that opengapps.org is still quite young (less than a year old) and 6.0 was released when the project was still gaining popularity. The 5.1 high tide has been missed.

Lifetime Variants

lifetime variants

Super has been introduced more recently and is still not as popular as the other packages. Easily explained by the fact that it is only meant for power users that want to use a gapps-config with some of the more exotic applications.

March 2016 Architectures

march architectures

In the March architectures overview you can see there are no major shifts compared to the lifetime stats, but ARM64 is very slowly growing.

March 2016 APIs

march apis

In the March APIs it is visible that 6.0 is now the de-facto standard for ROMs. 5.0 is shrinking. Also 4.4 is becoming less popular.

March 2016 Variants

march variants

In the March variants overview it is visible that the smaller pico and nano packages are gaining. It seems that the growing size of Google’s apps makes stock not always fit on /system/ and leads to people switching to smaller packages, especially compared to the popularity stock had on 5.1 in September last year. Also aroma did shrink compared to September 2015, very probably caused by the unmaintained ‘AROMA Installer’ and the more frequent issues it poses on various devices and recent recoveries. You can read more about that in Raul’s post.

A small addition

As mfonville mentioned in his Toybox blog post, it was decided to bundle a separate busybox binary in the Open GApps installer.

That’s where I (YashdSaraf) came in. I’ve been building busybox for Android for sometime now on XDA Forums. What started as a small pet project now has its own XDA thread.

History

Earlier I used to build busybox on my Android device itself, but it soon posed an obstacle, as I could only support ARM architecture. So I decided to delve in the cross compiling business. I use custom-built buildroot toolchains using uClibc C-library to get the smallest and full-featured busybox binaries possible. This helped me support all the Android architectures available.

Open GApps busybox integration

Initially mfonville reached out to me for building a busybox binary with lzip support included as he was trying out lzma compression over xz, because xz embedded in the busybox binary wasn’t fully functional. Finally it was decided that the installer will stick with xz as lzip was much slower and provided almost the same level of compression compared to xz. But the xz-embedded code that is part of the busybox source tree, was more of a hindrance because of its limitations and errors. So I was asked if I could also build an xzdec binary for the Open GApps project.

Bugs and Issues

Then came up an issue on github where Tegra 2 device owners were getting “illegal instructions” error. Soon we realized that NEON support was the culprit here. Apparently even a modern SoC such as Tegra 2 lacked something as subtle as NEON support in their devices. The toolchain I built was configured to have VFPV3 support with NEON by default. So as simple as it may sound the solution was to build a toolchain without NEON support and using that to build busybox which was much easier said than done.

I also assisted the project by building the infozip’s zip binary for advanced APK manipulation. Soon there was a hiccup in the working of this zip binary. MFonville and I invested a lot of time in bug hunting and it all came down to a nasty little variable $ZIP that was misleading the zip program. It was also addressed by XDA member osm0sis in his post.

Head over to my XDA thread for more information about my busybox binaries and their latest version.

Google acquisition

For any readers visiting this post on or after April 2, check the post date before continuing :)

Google Open Google Apps Logo?

The Hague, Apr. 1, 2016 - The Open GApps Team is very excited and proud to announce it’s been acquired by Google Inc. Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai explains how this latest acquisition is part of Google’s updated strategy as an Alphabet company: “By strengthening the Android division we can encapsulate even more of the Android market share, by acquiring Open GApps we directly gain over 90% marketshare of the AOSP-based installs and is proof of our commitment to ‘be together, not the same’.”

The Open GApps developers are very happy with the acquisition. MFonville is tasked with heading Google’s new shell-scripting division and a GSoC-project for developing a new “gsh”-shell. Also MNBooze is very content: “I will be relocated to the Google Campus and will be creating a Python based crawler that searches the Google-Docs department to find their newest APKs. This will enable us to release APKs even before they will reach the Play Store!” Raulx222 will join the Material Design Lite Project to bring MDL to the AROMA Recovery.

The no-mirror policy

Question Mirror

We sometimes get questions asking about mirrors or people uploading the OpenGApps.org pre-built packages to mirrors, which violates our license terms. In this post we will try to give some insight behind the rationale of the no-mirror policy of the OpenGApps.org pre-built packages:

Technical merit

The very first reason it technical: we want users to use the latest, greatest and most up-to-date version. The rationale behind the project was to be able to do automated builds to achieve this goal and it would be weird to forfeit this. To make this easy, we made it possible to hotlink and automatically download the latest versions for e.g. ROM devs their OPs on XDA. This eliminates the need for mirrors which would be outdated within one day.

Support and educate users

The second reason is support and documentation. If just uploading the package to a filehost it isn’t accompanied by any documentation or access to a support forum. If offered via OpenGApps.org there are direct links to the Wiki, XDA Forum, the source code and existing bug reports. This helps users find their way and to benefit most from the various features offered by the package.

Fostering community

Another very import reason is fostering a community. Open source does not mean “just download and ignore where it comes from”. For open source projects it is critical that people are aware of where their software originates from, the rationale behind it, how to contribute and how to get involved. If users of the software can’t get acquainted with the project, the project won’t be able to attract new potential volunteers and would have a large chance to die. OpenGApps.org is a HUB for the users of Open GApps, that enables them to get acquainted with the project and support it.

Inclusive to all

Also this policy benefits the people who are using less popular architectures, apis and variants. The amount of ARM 5.1 and 6.0 downloads each day is huge, but some people use less popular builds, like 4.4 x86, that only has a few downloads each day. To be able to compile builds every day for everyone instead of just the popular few packages, the buildbot compiles and uploads more than 20GiB of new packages every day. That is not without costs and the ads and donations on opengapps.org support us to do this. If you download an ARM 6.0 pico on our website and you see an advertisement, you are i.e. funding the 4.4 x86 users’ download.

Acknowledge, credit and motivation

Another aspect of open source projects and voluntary work is that it is important to give credit where it is due and respecting people’s efforts: volunteering projects can only strive because of the many people involved that contribute with their knowledge and skills. If filehosts offer the downloads without any reference to the context to the people who made it possible, it neglects this important aspect of keeping people motivated to put in the many hours they do. That is why direct access to the e.g. the source code commits is important.

Trust and security

Trustworthiness, the packages from OpenGApps.org are signed with a custom certificate, to ensure people that they were built by us. People can choose to trust OpenGApps.org’s packages to be signed with this certificate had no changes compared to the GitHub source code and don’t contain APKs that were tampered with.

What if downloads are slow?

Sometimes people experience slow downloads from OpenGApps.org. The OpenGApps.org packages are hosted on GitHub Releases, which is hosted on the Amazon Web Services Cloud. Most of the time and in most places of the world their service is good and reliable, but for some users it is sometimes slow. If it is slow, you can write to GitHub to let them ask Amazon for a solution.

Compile; don’t copy!

If you want to upload your own Open GApps variant, you are free to do so. The source code of Open GApps is freely available and everybody can compile and upload their own builds and variants, which you can distribute under various terms (as long as in compliance with the Open GApps license). Please just don’t use copy-paste the pre-built ones from OpenGApps.org.

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