A Modder’s Guide to Android 5

Huh, that’s new…

Unless I’m mistaken, the Nexus 6 is still the only Android phone currently shipping with Android 5.0 “Lollipop”.  Similarly, the N6, along with the Nexus 9 tablet, is one of only a few available devices with an unlockable bootloader, allowing the user to realize the full potential of the Android platform if they so choose.

Well, I indeed so choose, and today I’m here with a brief report of what to expect when rooting an Android L phone.

The first thing to look out for is the tick box seen above, found in the developer options panel—and you get there by tapping seven times on the build number in the “about phone” screen within your settings. Congratulations, I am now a developer… Woot!


Unlocking the N6’s bootloader was just as easy as any other Nexus. You just need the proper tools—and for this Linux user that’s android-tools-adb and android-tools-fastboot. Flashing the latest TWRP Recovery was almost as trivial; it didn’t quite take the first time because I forgot to restart the bootloader immediately after installing it. At least I didn’t get any boot loops like I did with my Nexus 5

Anyway, with a custom recovery in place you can now flash the latest superuser.zip from Chainfire and get root access to your device. This will give you two big benefits over rank and file Android users: You’ll be able to back up and restore your apps—and their settings—with TitaniumBackup, and banish ads forever with AdAway.

Now the bad news: you won’t be able to use the Xposed Framework; that’s because Android L runs exclusively on ART, and Xposed only supports Dalvik—more specifically, Android 4.03-4.4.4. This means that in order to reign in those pesky app permissions, in my opinion the biggest benefit to modding your phone or tablet, you’re going to have to install a custom ROM.

CM12 Home Screen

I went with CM12 which, despite only having nightly releases at this point, already has some nice QHD wallpapers onboard. Cyanogen’s best-in-class Privacy Guard is so far working as advertised. And there’s an additional perk to running this Lollipop-based ROM, which I’ll tell you all about tomorrow…