**This is for system apk's, not for market ones. To modify apps you've downloaded and installed, you will need a program like the fantastic Apk Manager, since non-system apps are signed and have to be resigned after getting messed with**
*MY TYPICAL DISCLAIMER!*
I AM NOT A DEV! I just like tinkering with this phone because I'm overall an extremely picky and obsessive person. I have no prior android experience (besides a little tinkering with my X10), and am in NO way an expert. But since I know how to mess with my phone a little bit and I've been asked to share, I will =) But follow these instructions at your own risk! I am not responsible for the untimely death of your phone, so please be cautious and careful, and if you have any questions about any step, before you try it, ask me or someone who knows! I don't want the blood of your dead phone on my hands! It's Christmas, after all! =)
These instructions are for Windows computers. Sorry, I'm just not familiar with mac or linux. =(
***Swapping out PNG's***
Okay, so say you have an icon or an image in your phone that you just don't like and would like to swap out with something (or swap out with nothing, so you can't see it at all). Here is what you'll need:
7zip for your computer
Root explorer for your phone
Some kind of image editor. I'm partial towards Paint.net. =) (Only if you're actually going to edit an image. If you're just going to swap it out for something else, you obviously won't need this.)
Here is a good example of something where I really felt like I needed to change some images we can use that I just discovered last night while calling to activate my credit card over the phone. Here is the dialer when you start the phone:
Notice those handy letters next to the numbers =)
Once I started the call to the credit card company, it asked me to verify myself by inputting, using the keypad, the letters of my mother's maiden name. So I opened the dialer, and what did I see?
For whatever STUPID STUPID REASON, they REMOVE the letters next to the numbers on the keypad that opens DURING the call, making it extremely difficult for me to type my mother's maiden name in the time permitted, given that no, I don't off the top of my head know where the letters sit on the dialer. So I felt this needed fixing =)
1.) Copy the apk you want to modify from your phone (using root explorer) and transfer to your computer
In this case, I wanted my Phone.apk, which is in /system/app. The vast majority of system apps are in this folder with the major exception of framework-res.apk, which is the phone’s BIG cajone in /system/framework, and as such, should be handled with utmost care. Messing with framework-res.apk incorrectly is an EASY way to brick your phone in a heartbeat.
2.) Unzip the apk using 7zip and look for your PNG's!
Keep the original, untouched, zipped apk somewhere safe on your computer. You’re going to need one to modify and another copy for safekeeping in case you want to revert back to the stock apk, or something goes wrong. Unzipping the apk just makes searching for the PNG you’re looking for much easier, since you can change the folder view in windows to give you a thumbnail of each of the items. And lookee, lookee, here they are in phone/res/drawable-hdpi, right next to other dial buttons with those handy letters!!
3.) Edit your PNG's however you want.
In this case, the work is pretty much done for us! I just swapped out the PNG's without the letters for copies of the ones with the letters, and just changed the names of the files to the original versions, like so:
4.) Using 7zip, right click on the original, untouched apk, choose 7zip, and open archive. DO NOT EXTRACT.
Open archive will let you explore the apk without having to extract it and lose the proper packaging of the apk.
5.) Select all your newly modified PNG’s and drag and drop them into the correct location in the open archive of the original apk, letting them overwrite the old PNG’s.
6.) Put this newly modified apk back onto your phone. Using root explorer, copy the new apk into the /system folder of your phone.
7.) CHANGE THE PERMISSIONS of the apk to match those of the original apk in /system/app.
In this case, long press on the phone.apk, select permissions, and select the check boxes as follows- Owner: Read, Write; Group: Read; Others: Read. This matches the permissions of phone.apk in /system/app
8.) Move the new apk into /system/app, and let it overwrite the original!
9.) Restart your phone!
Voila! Now when I call my credit card company and have to type in names, I can!