GravityBox is one of the most powerful and comprehensive modules that uses the Xposed Framework.
The app is a hacker’s dream, giving you the ability to perform an enormous number of tweaks that would normally need separate ROMs or mods to perform. These range from simple fixes for annoyances, like preventing battery draining wakelocks in certain apps, to full-on tweaks for customising and enhancing your device.
Among these you can change how the hardware buttons function, or even assign additional functions to them, and also adjust the colour scheme of your phone, something that would normally need a whole new custom ROM to be able to achieve.
What makes GravityBox such an essential module is that it works even with stock ROMs. Although it does incorporate extra ROM-specific functions (such as for CyanogenMod) we’ve been using it quite happily on a stock Jelly Bean Galaxy S III (with which we were able to solve one of our own minor annoyances – making the dark grey status bar black as it should be).
Not every tweak will have an effect, but for the most part you can simply deactivate them once again should the change not work as expected.
To use GravityBox you need your device to be rooted and for the Xposed Framework to be installed. As always, a Nandroid backup is a good idea.
Activate & launch GravityBox
Once you’ve got the Xposed Framework set up and installed download, install and activate GravityBox from the list of modules, then reboot. You’ll now have a shortcut to GravityBox in your app drawer so can launch it just as you would any other app.
Find your way around
The app is set up in a very logical manner, with all the various tweaks grouped into sections based on what they will affect. You don’t get any indication of which tweaks will work on your device, but since most are applied in real time, you’ll see the effect (or lack of) straight away.
Head first to Statusbar tweaks and select Statusbar colouts. Here we’re going to turn the S III’s grey status bar black (via Statusbar background colour) and then change the colour of the icons by ticking the Enable icon colours box and then using the colour picker to make our selection.
Now go into Transparency management, within Statusbar tweaks. This one’s simple – you can make the status bar transparent in both the launcher and lockscreen, making your wallpaper fully visible through it. How and whether this works may depend on the launcher you are using.
CM specific controls
Note that some features in GravityBox are ROM-specific. This applies in particular to the Pie controls which are intended for use with the CyanogenMod ROM. Tweaks that aren’t supported won’t have any adverse effect, but disable them anyway.
Change the navigation bar
From the main screen choose Navigation bar tweaks. You can add a permanent navigation bar to your system (Android’s virtual buttons) should you ever need to. Tap Override system defaults, then Enable navigation bar. You’ll have to reboot your device to see this in action.
Another very useful tweak is found within Display tweaks. Tapping Allow all rotations means that your device’s screen will now be able to be rotated 360 degrees. If you have a buttonless device, you’ll now be able to use it in any orientation without being forced to hold it the right way up.
Add hardware music controls
Media tweaks also houses a number of very useful functions. The obvious one here is Volume keys skip track. This uses the volume keys to control your music app when the screen is off. More music volume steps makes the volume control more sensitive.
Assign apps to buttons
Perhaps most useful of all for power users is the ability to assign apps and functions to individual keys. Go to Hardware key actions and work through the functions to assign to a long press and double tap of each key. Use the custom apps settings to launch apps.
Finally, in the Miscellaneous tweaks section we like the Recent tasks RAM bar option. Activating this will show how much RAM is being used, and how much is free whenever you open the app switcher. It’s useful information for heavier users, and allows you to control your system more easily.