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It is common knowledge that the best way to customize your Android device is to flash it with a new ROM. It is also wrong. It turns out there’s an easier way: If you have a rooted device, you can customize any ROM using a free and powerful app: The Xposed framework.  Imagine being able to:

All without flashing a new ROM! Sounds crazy, right? But Xposed really works, and I’ve been using it for about a month now. Let me show you some of the cooler things you can do with it.

The Framework

Xposed itself is just a framework: On its own, it doesn’t change anything about your device. It merely makes it possible for you to install modules. That’s where all the customization happens: You can pick and choose different modules, each with its own configuration options. This is a brilliant architecture, because it means anyone can write a module – you don’t have to wait for the main Xposed developer to pay attention to your device or your favorite feature.

First things first: You’re going to have to install the framework itself. Assuming your device is already rooted, you just have to grab the Xposed Installer app, and run it. It will ask for root permissions, and then you’ll just have to tap Install/Update, wait a moment, and reboot your device when you get a success message.

xposed-4

Above you can see what Xposed looks like when it’s already installed but due for an update (left), and when it’s fully up to date (right). So, yes, you get over-the-air updates for the framework, and it keeps getting better even after you install it.

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Next, you’re going to have to pick some modules to play with. Modules do not change system files on your device: All of their work is done in-memory, which means you can easily disable them if things go wrong, and just go back to the way your device originally ran without having to restore any backups. Did I mention this framework is brilliant?

Here’s the built-in module repository:

xposed-5

This part of the app could do with a bit of work — specifically, community reviews would make it much better, as would support for tagging each module with relevant tags. As it stands, you can see when each module was added to the repository, and when it was last updated. You can also quickly search for modules — the right-hand screenshot shows a few navigation-bar related modules. This doesn’t mean they’re the only modules you can use to customize your navbar – only that the word “navbar” was used to describe them.

Once you download a module, you are going to have to enable it and restart your device

xposed-6

To the left you can see four disabled modules, and to the right you can see them all enabled. Again, just ticking the checkbox won’t do the trick – you must also reboot your device for the modules to become active (and you may not want to activate four modules all at once, just in case they interact in surprising ways).

Now, let’s check out three of these modules. These aren’t necessarily the ones you’ll go for — there are dozens of modules to choose from (you can also browse the module repository online). These are just three modules I’ve been using for over a month, and have been impressed with.

App Settings

App Settings takes much of what I love about PAC ROM and makes it available in any ROM:

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For each individual app on your phone, you can specify a number of key settings. You can run it in a tablet or phablet layout by changing the Screen setting; force it to start in full-screen mode and hide your status bar; make it so the screen never turns off as long as you’re using that app (great for reading), and more.

BootManager

One of the things that can slow your Android How To Make Android Faster: What Works, And What Doesn't How To Make Android Faster: What Works, And What Doesn't Everyone wants their devices to run faster and scammers prey on that. Recently, a scam app named Android Defrag Pro popped up on Google Play. Android doesn't need defragmentation, but many users installed it anyway... Read More phone down over time is apps starting up at boot. Some apps really do need to start when you first boot your device: The excellent security app 4 Android Anti-Theft Solutions Compared: Which Is The Best? 4 Android Anti-Theft Solutions Compared: Which Is The Best? Anti-theft apps like Lookout, Cerberus, Prey, and Android Lost offer a wide range of options for finding or protecting your device: GPS location, sounding an alarm, locking the phone, wiping the data completely, and more.... Read More Cerberus is one example. But really, there is no reason an app for choosing wallpapers would want to start itself when you switch on your phone. BootManager helps you prevent such apps from starting:

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This module couldn’t be simpler to use. Just tap the apps you want to keep from starting, and you’re done. By the way, just because an app is on the list doesn’t mean it actually starts on boot – only that it can do so. By marking it in BootManager, you take away that ability and ensure it doesn’t auto-start.

XBlast Tools

Many custom ROMs tout basic interface improvements as key selling points: “Center clock!” (put your clock in the center of the status bar); “Kill-all button!” (a way to quickly terminate all running apps from the Recent Apps screen), and other tweaks are marketed as great reasons to install a ROM. Well, with XBlast Tools, this is no longer the case:

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This Xposed Framework module lets you tweak numerous system settings. Make your screen rotate 180 degrees when you flip the phone over; make the status bar transparent; go ahead and put that clock in the middle of your status bar. With dozens of settings to tweak and customize, you won’t run out of options anytime soon — and you won’t have to install any special ROM to enjoy those settings.

Convinced Yet?

The Xposed framework is pretty much the best thing to happen to Android customization since rooting became widely available. I can only hope the developer community that started around it grows stronger with time, and that more and more people adopt the framework both as users and as coders. Some apps, such as Greenify (mentioned here The Latest and Best Free Android Apps From XDA Developers: Get Great Apps Before Your Friends The Latest and Best Free Android Apps From XDA Developers: Get Great Apps Before Your Friends If you're like me, scoring a great program feels like discovering Picasso or Caravaggio for the first time — but finding gems requires installing a lot of really bad software. XDA makes the discovery process... Read More ), even ship with optional Xposed modules as part of the main app. Perhaps this is a sign of things to come.

Will you be trying the Xposed framework out? If so, I’d love to hear about your favorite modules in the comments – do share!

  1. Bhavesh
    May 22, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    can i make this tweak permanent ?
    i mean i want this effect on my android after uninstalling xposed & unroot...

    is it possible? if yes, how.?
    any other way to install only that tweaks???

    • Henree Garcia
      January 15, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      You can't make the tweaks permanent. You need to have Xposed installed.

  2. Pankaj shah
    April 24, 2015 at 5:13 am

    what is the maximum risk while installing xposed framework...????

    • Henree Garcia
      January 15, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      The max risk is a boot loop. Always make a backup before tweaking.

  3. Pankaj shah
    April 24, 2015 at 5:13 am

    what is the maximum risk while installing xposed framework...????

  4. Gilead
    November 12, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Great Post. Thanks a lot. I have a little problem though. I use an android x350 (version 2.3.6 gingerbread) and have been meaning to root it. I would really appreciate your assistance as it seems am already out of options. I really love this phone.

  5. Paul
    November 3, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Hmm.. Am I doing something wrong? When go to install the installer, the phone's installer says 'unable to install package null' or something very similar.

    I really, really, want to stop the phone waking me up at night to tell me that it is feeling fine, and that it's battery is fully charged.

    GT-I5800 (rooted; Kisadworks on Cyanogen. Great!)

    • Erez Z
      November 3, 2013 at 12:43 pm

      Hmm, that's interesting. Where do you get the APK for the installer from, and what is its size?

    • Alkimst
      December 29, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      your system file is set for read only you have to change it to read write -rw.

  6. Curious_1
    November 1, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    You have mentioned that these modules do not afect the system, but the memory. I'm actually using Xposed, but had a question....Do you know if any of these modules (specifically the GravityBox, my favourite) interfere with OTA updates reception. I don't want to delay the 4.4 OTA update on my nexus 4 :) Thanks

    • Roy Blumenthal
      November 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm

      As far as I know, routing your phone pretty much breaks the OTA system. I'm not 100% sure of this, but in my experience, it's the case.

      I've never just rooted my phone though. I've always rooted, then changed to a custom ROM. Changing to a new ROM is absolutely guaranteed to break OTA.

      Xposed does nothing to your phone beyond the effects of whatever modules you have activated.

    • Roy Blumenthal
      November 2, 2013 at 5:08 pm

      Ugh. Rooting, not routing.

    • Erez Z
      November 3, 2013 at 9:21 am

      As far as I know, they really shouldn't. I mean, I don't see why they would. Then again, I must admit I didn't check this thoroughly -- I have an Xperia Z so the only 4.4 update it'll get is one I'll manually flash... ;)

  7. RunningBlind
    October 29, 2013 at 3:46 am

    I am an absolute noob with this as I recently purchased an Android from Docomo in Japan. It seems they hard code their voice mail number into the phone's firmware as I cannot edit it anywhere for use with a new carrier elsewhere. Will this allow me to edit this hard coded voice mail number?

    • Erez Z
      October 29, 2013 at 7:28 am

      I'm afraid it probably won't... That's one annoying thing to hard code! Maybe you should try an alternative dialer? Would that help?

    • RunningBlind
      October 30, 2013 at 12:15 am

      I haven't managed to find a dialer yet that will let me program an alternate voicemail number for my carrier. If you are aware of one that would be very helpful. Thanks.

    • Erez Z
      October 31, 2013 at 10:37 am

      I'm afraid I'm not aware of one, but will certainly keep an eye out. :)

  8. Bestgeek
    October 28, 2013 at 8:04 am

    You missed most interesting module in Xposed framework - GravityBox. I think it's a must try for all Xposed Framework users.

    • Erez Z
      October 28, 2013 at 4:12 pm

      Actually the reason I didn't mention GravityBox is that its desc says its primary goal is "to provide the users of MediaTek platform with a tweak box". So I figured it's lots of MTK-exclusive stuff.

      Can I use it with a Snapdragon device too? (If so, they should really update that description...)

    • Bestgeek
      October 28, 2013 at 5:16 pm

      Yeah I think so. Works on Nexus 4 and Galaxy S4 as well as older devices like Galaxy Y.

  9. mc
    October 28, 2013 at 2:43 am

    I am just looking for a more useful keyboard...are there any useful leads on xposed for that?

  10. EsPo
    October 27, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Tried on Android_x86.org build and didn't work but just type the undo command on xda to revert back to normal. Hope this helps the one person who does this too.

  11. Joel L
    October 27, 2013 at 4:30 am

    This sounds really cool. I just upgraded to a new phone so I'm not comfortable enough to play around with it yet, but I'll follow Xposed's development and give it a try when it matures a bit more!

    • Erez Z
      October 27, 2013 at 8:48 am

      Woo, congrats on the phone! Which one is it?

    • Joel L
      October 28, 2013 at 6:09 pm

      Galaxy S3 Mini. It was basically time for me to renew my contract so I was able to get it for $1 USD. I am quite happy with it! :)

    • Erez Z
      November 4, 2013 at 8:35 am

      Not bad at all! I like those smaller phones. We had the S4 mini for a while (for a review), and it was quite fun to play with.

  12. Illegal3alien
    October 27, 2013 at 12:32 am

    Do yourself a favor and backup your phone first (nandroid would be the best). If you have a custom recovery installed, just boot into that and do a full backup. I softbricked my Nexus 4 last time I was messing around with xposed.

    • Erez Z
      October 27, 2013 at 8:48 am

      Really? That's interesting -- how did the softbrick happen? Right after installing the framework? Or with some mod?

    • Rob Lowry
      November 3, 2013 at 5:56 pm

      Ditto ... I've soft bricked twice in the few days I've been playing with XPosed. The 1st time happened when I was playing around with settings for one of the audio mods (can't recall which one). The 2nd time was after I downloaded and activated a bunch of mods ... went ahead and rebooted and went into boot loop. With the 1st brick I didn't have a single backup, or rom on my phone and needed to download and then sideload to get it back up.

      Now all of that said ... when you're tinkering with your phone at this level, problems should be expected. I would still highly recommend XPosed for people who want to keep their phones on a stock or 'near stock' ROM and tweak just the things they are interested in.

    • Alkimst
      December 29, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      I also bricked my phone try gravity box if you are in a plain vanilla rom.

  13. Nothankyou
    October 26, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    I am not convinced yet because you don't even write what versions of android are supporte

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