Will Rooting Your Android Phone Come to an End?

April 6, 2011 - Written By Daniel Reading

Rooting Is A Major Advantage of Android

Rooting, custom ROMs, and getting the most out of your phone; these features are what makes the Android OS stand out from the rest.  But is it coming to an end? It’s a sobering thought, and one many might be quick to dismiss as scare mongering, but P3droid over at mydroidworld.com presents some VERY interesting information on the possible openness of Android.

I am going to try my best to sum it up for you guys but I would highly recommend looking at the post in full here.

What P3droid Basically said about the Future of Rooting:

1. In July (2010) rumors were abounding that Motorola wanted to make rooting more difficult by adding locked bootloaders. When Android OS 2.2 (Froyo) was released, it did take longer for rooting to be accomplished, but eventually as before the process became simple.

2. Then beginning in October a flood of rumors came that more and more devices would have locked bootloaders. While the rumors pointed mostly to Motorola again, it became clear that this was a wider issue (e.g. new HTC devices). The motivation for this varied, but was mostly about “theft of service,” such as tethering your device without paying the fees.

3. Move ahead to December, and things got even worse. As rumors became more substantial it seemed that carriers were working together on a program that could identify rooted users. Manufacturers were also providing Verizon with new security features such as the ability to identify any phone using a tethering program to circumvent paying for tethering services.

4. This March hasn’t provided any information that will make you feel warm and fuzzy. Simply put carriers would check who and who is not downloading updates that they push to the phone, to see who is rooted (it’s more complicated than it sounds), and with the ability to track (your root status) built into their ROMs they could essentially cut you off if you moved the tracking feature.

Thoughts on the Android Clampdown

Should you freak out? Probably not if you’re not in America, since the post seems to talk mostly about Verizon and does not mention any other carriers. Even if you’re American I’m not entirely sure if you should worry; would Google allow such things to happen? Do they have the power/influence to stop it? I don’t doubt carriers would love to lock down your phones or certain handset makers but I would hope there is some opposition in the industry.

The reason for wanting to lock down your phone, however, is simple. Rather than these large companies changing to meet new consumer demand they would rather adopt old business models or ones that give them the most power and use their influence to make everyone else fall in line. For some reason they think it suitable to load us full of bloatware we don’t need, skins we don’t want and then charge us just to use the data we’re already paying for on a different device!

Rooting is a big thing. Custom ROMs are an awesome thing, as our themes and custom kernels. Without these, would you still buy an Android phone? Would you consider looking elsewhere? I know I would give it serious thought. Hit the comments below to give your opinion. Something to worry about? Or is it mostly people overreacting and worrying?

One Last Thing

By the way it is worth noting that recently Sony Ericsson is making it easier to unlock bootloaders on their phones (with certain conditions, see their blog post here).