Hacking the Nexus Q: A simple guide

NOTE: I found it impossible to maintain this guide by myself so moved it to a wiki here: http://nexusq.wikidot.com. Please refer to the wiki for the most current information. The information below will no longer be updated.

Unimpressed by the Q’s limited functionality or want to do more? Want to run your favorite Android app on the big screen? This is a guide that will help you do whatever you like with the Q. You don’t need to be a hardcore techie but some relatively basic knowledge is assumed. If you can open a terminal window (like cmd.exe on Windows) and navigate around (“cd”, “dir” or “ls”, etc) you should be fine.

Here are some examples of the what you can do:

My goal here is twofold: To put tips and knowledge I have gained as I have hacked the Q, and to make it so easy that anyone with a basic knowledge of the command prompt can follow it. If you’re a hardcore Android hacker then you can skip chunks of this guide, but I hope you will still find many things useful.

Disclaimer: Rooting a device, sideloading apps, etc, is risky. You will probably void your warranty and you may “brick” your device (render it useless). The chance is slim but it is real. These instructions are right as far as I know, but if you choose to follow them and something bad happens, it’s not my fault.

OK with that out of the way, let’s dive in!

(I am actively updating this guide as I have time, so if a bullet point below is inactive please check back later. Please post comments or email me for suggestions or errata! I’ll incorporate your suggestions into the text and give you credit.)

Here are the things you’ll want to do first:

Here are some useful (and not-so-useful) apps:

Some more random information:

Visions and ramblings:

  • [random thoughts and blog posts will go here]

5 Responses to Hacking the Nexus Q: A simple guide

  1. John Graves says:

    Can it play SlideSpeech presentations?

    • davidnhutch says:

      I will try it tonight and let you know!

      • davidnhutch says:

        Hm, it goes to the main screen then says “Oh snap, slidespeech has crashed. A report has been sent.” I will send you the logcat.

        Disregarding apps that obviously don’t work because Nexus Q doesn’t have e.g. GPS, gyroscope, or some other hardware — most (~90%) of the remaining apps seem to work. I’m not sure yet what common aspects the remaining 10% have.

  2. Luke says:

    Hey man thanks a bunch for the writeup, was very helpful. Do you have any idea how to modify the default ‘home’ key operation to point to my launcher instead of the visualizer app? Can’t seem to figure this out.

    • davidnhutch says:

      Thanks! Just trying to keep track of what I did all in one place, hopefully saving someone else time trawling the forums.

      There are four ways I can think of to do this.

      1) You may be able to do it in the Q’s settings. e.g. see here: http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/43135/how-to-change-the-default-application-for-android-tasks/ and scroll down to “Inside the Application info menu…”

      2) There may be an app in the Play store that will do it. e.g. HomeSwitcher, or just search for “modify home button”

      3) Tweak trebuchet source code so it launches on startup. It is usually a big no-no to make an app launch itself on power-on, but it can be done and in the Q’s case it’s justified, e.g. here: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/6391902/how-to-start-an-application-on-startup
      Of course this is not exactly what you wanted, but it does mean you wouldn’t have to start it via adb at every bootup, and from then on you could alt-tab to get back home.

      4) Modify the function of the home button itself via an app or service. This I believe is harder, and is also usually a big no-no, but again would be justified in this case. But one of the above should work, so this would be a last resort.

      I can’t try it myself right now because I am currently wrestling with the issues of loading various ROMs (CM9, stock ICS, …) so my Q is not in a usable state right now. Let me know how it works! Or if I get to it first I’ll reply to this comment with the solution, and add the solution to the pages here.

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