There are three levels of Android customization: things you can do by default, things you can do with ADB, and things you can do with root. While root is still quite a pain to get, ADB mods just got a lot easier.
Back in Android 9, Google added a feature that allows you to wirelessly send ADB commands from a computer to your phone over a Wi-Fi network. Not particularly groundbreaking, but it laid the groundwork.
Enter developer Tyler Nijmeh and his new app, LADB. It creates a local host entirely on the phone and then behaves as if it were a computer on your network. From there, it’s just a matter of connecting to your phone̵
What you need:
- phone with Android 9 or higher
- $ 2.99 to buy the app on Google Play (or the idea of building an app from the GitHub source)
Confirmed work on:
- Google Pixel phones (Android 9 or higher)
- OnePlus phones (OxygenOS 9 or higher)
- Samsung Galaxy Phones (One UI 2.0, 2.1 & 3.0)
Step 1: Install LADB
Note, this app costs three dollars. If you don’t like that, you can go to the app’s GitHub page and compile the APK from source for free. Here’s a Stack Overflow thread that should be a good starting point if you want to go that route.
But for everyone else, just search for LADB in your Play Store app to install it. Or tap the link below from your phone to go directly to the app installation page.
Step 2: Enable Developer Options
Now open your Settings app and scroll down to select ‘About phone’. Inside, tap the “Build number” item seven times in quick succession, then enter your lock screen passcode when prompted. This will unlock the hidden developer options menu – but if you want more help, we’ve got a full guide to this part:
Step 3: Enable wireless debugging
Now you need to enable the underlying Android feature that makes this app work. Go to your settings, scroll down and select “System”, then tap “Advanced” and choose “Developer options”. On some phones, the Developer Options item may be at the very bottom of the main Settings screen.
Once inside scroll down to it Debugging section. Here, turn on the toggle next to “Wireless Debugging” and then press “OK” at the prompt to confirm your choice.
While we tested this and found it worked on almost every modern Android phone sold in the US in the last four years, not every device is guaranteed about the Wireless Debugging feature. It’s part of AOSP, Android’s open source codebase, but OEMs sometimes remove functionality from their skinned versions of Android. If your phone doesn’t have this option, unfortunately LADB won’t work for you.
Step 4: Establish the connection
Then you just need to connect the local host of LADB to your phone’s wireless ADB function. But depending on which Android version you’re on, that can be incredibly easy or a bit clunky. We’ll start with the clunky version (newer Android versions), so if you’re using Android 10 or lower, click here to continue.
Android 11 and above
As of Android 11, the new wireless debugging feature has been completed. That means it even has a good security system where you have to enter credentials to send commands, which complicates things in this case.
So when you first launch LADB on Android 11, you will see a popup asking you to enter the port number and pairing code. Since the popup in Settings showing the pairing code was meant to be read on your phone while typing it into a computer, the system will automatically change the pairing code as soon as it closes.
So you need to open your Settings app in split screen to avoid closing the popup. While LADB asks you for the numbers, go to the multitasking view and tap the app icon at the top of the card, then select ‘Split screen’. Then select the settings card from the mini multitasking view that appears to make this the second screen. Or if you are using Samsung, select “Settings” from the list.
Go back to from there Settings -> System -> Advanced -> Developer options or Settings -> Developer optionsand then tap the text “Wireless Debugging” (instead of the switch) to open the function’s submenu. From there, scroll down and tap on ‘Pair device with pairing code’.
Now there is another wrinkle. In split screen view, that popup in LADB loses the “Okay” button, which means you can’t get the app to accept the credentials after you edit them. To avoid that, take the split screen divider and drag it down to where the Settings section only takes up about 1/3 of the screen, while LADB takes up the other 2/3.
Now it’s just a matter of copying the numbers. below IP address and port in the Settings pop-up window, you’ll see a string of numbers, then a colon, then another digit. The number after the colon is what you enter in the Port field in the LADB popup. Then the pairing code goes into the pairing code box, after which you tap “Okay” in LADB.
You will now see a message in the LADB terminal saying “Waiting for device to accept connection.” This can take up to two minutes, so be patient. When the connection is completed, you should get a notification from the Android system saying “Wireless debugging connected”.
You don’t have to do all these things in the future. LADB and Android both store their wireless ADB pairs, so the next time you need to send an ADB shell command, just open and enter the app!
Android 9 and 10
If you are using Android 9 or 10, this is part so Much easier. Just open the app, check the box next to ‘Always allow’ and select ‘Allow’ when prompted to ‘Allow USB debugging’. You will then be presented with the command line, ready to accept a command!
Step 5: Send ADB Shell commands to your own phone
Now you are ready to send ADB shell commands to your own phone. Note that this is an ADB shell, which means you cannot access commands such as “adb reboot-bootloader.” Instead, you can only run commands that normally start with “adb shell.”
However, since you are submitting commands directly to the ADB shell, you do not need to include the “adb shell” portion of the commands – just delete that portion and submit the rest of the command itself. For example, if you are granting the WRITE_SECURE_SETTINGS that many advanced customization apps require, instead of this:
adb shell pm grant com.appname.xyz android.permission_WRITE_SECURE_SETTINGS
… you would just send this:
pm grant com.appname.xyz android.permission_WRITE_SECURE_SETTINGS
Two great apps to try out that command are SystemUI Tuner and Tasker. Once they get the elevated permission to write certain system settings, they become quite powerful!
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