KDtech: Rooting Android! Why should I?

Friday 23 March 2012

Rooting Android! Why should I?

Rooting! One the most common questions I get is why should I root? And that is usually followed with what exactly is root and how do I do it? I have been a “root user” since owning all of my Android devices. In fact I usually root right out of the box now when I get a new phone. Rooting is a term used for Android similar to jailbreaking for the iphone. In simple terms rooting is gaining full access to the operating system. 

Lets backup a little bit. Android is open source operating system owned and given away by Google. Different versions of Android are place on many models of phones and other devices by many different manufacturers such as Samsung and Motorola. Focusing on the phones, they are then sold to carriers such as Verizon in the United States. The carriers are typically where problems arise. Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T have decided that you the user do not need full control over your phone and all its wonderful parts and software. That would be like buying a computer and having Best Buy decide that you no longer need to use the DvD drive just because they said so. All these restrictive efforts just motivated the Android Developers (Devs) to find a way around them. This was the birth of rooting.

Now you ask what does rooting do for me, the user? I think I can answer that by giving the reasons of why I root every phone. First, for it me I like to root because nerdy hacking type stuff is fun. But really it is to run software (apps) that I would not otherwise be permitted to use. I am a big believer in backing up everything to include my phone, text messages, game progress, settings, and apps in general along with many more items. Rooting allows me to do all this for free using programs like Titanium Backup which cannot run without being rooted as the app needs access to the whole Android operating system to work.

Once rooted you can venture into other areas like running custom versions of the Android operating system called ROMs. These can be really fun and greatly improve the phones performance. A ROM I am running now, called GummyCharge, has improved my phones speeds and tripled my battery life. There are trade offs for trying items like this as you can make mistakes loading them and brick your phone. But with practice loading, or flashing as it is known, can become second nature. While driving down the road the other day I hit two buttons and flashed a whole new operating system on my phone that was ready by the time I arrived at my destination. It really can be that easy.

And my number one reason for rooting is wireless tether! Ethics and court come into play here. It was declared legal that you own the phone and can do what you like with it to include rooting. As we discussed rooting allows for extra apps to run that otherwise would not. One of those is wireless tether which permits a person to turn their phone into a wireless hotspot or router. Wireless tether lets you connect your computer, tablet, other even other phones over wifi to your Android Rooted phone and share the data. Warning!!! You may get extra charges on your phone bill and you may run over your data plan limitations really quickly. The carries cannot see that you are tethered, but they will see a great spike in your data. This is not an illegal process. But the carriers would prefer that you basically double the price of your data plan and just use their app for tether. Is that ethical? You are already paying for data and maybe unlimited data as I am. Who is the carrier to tell me what I can and cannot look at on the internet with whatever device I like? That is an ethical question for you to figure out. But again, it is not prohibited!

If you are interested in rooting then you need to go to forums like Android Central, Android Forums, XDA Developers, and Rootzwiki and look up your model phone. Some phones are preset for rooting. But most others like mine require a flaw to be found by the devs and then exploited. Basically they find a way to root your phone for you and provide instructions on how to do this to your individual phone. Good luck!!! It is a worthwhile process in my opinion.

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Twitter: @kraisydave