OMG!NoobDroid: What does it mean to root your Android device?
Hello and welcome to the first installment of a new segment we’re just starting here on the site, called “OMG!NoobDroid“. As many of you may know, the Android platform already has a ginormous user base and it’s only getting bigger — to the tune of almost 1,000,000 new devices being activated each and every day. Pretty astounding numbers, right?
While, many of us have been in the scene for a long time (since the G1 days, myself), there is a great deal of people who are just beginning their journey into the awesomeness that is Android. There’s a lot of information out there that may seem common knowledge, but the fact is, that is far from the case. There’s a ton of people out there, believe it or not, who are slightly baffled by their newly-acquired toys.
If you are in this group of people (we like to call ‘em noobz), have no fear — and, whatever you do, don’t give up on Android. There’s a ton of reasons that this operating system rises above the rest. Also, you’ve got a die-hard group of Andy fanatics like us here to help you every step of the way with this new series.
One of the most-asked questions I run into from new Android users is, “What will rooting my device accomplish?” I figured this would be a great topic to cover for the first installment, so here goes nuthin’.
What is this Root you speak of?
To understand what rooting will accomplish, you first must understand what root is.
Rooting an Android smartphone or tablet is a process that allows users to attain privileged access, otherwise known as root access. This is not the same process as “jailbreaking” an iPhone. Rooting your Android device will not give you access to
free hacked apps or games. The main reasons a person would choose to root their phone include:
- overcome limitations put on some devices by carriers and/or manufacturers
- alter or replace system settings
- install a custom recovery (stay tuned, we’ll be explaining this in a future post)
- run special apps (like ROM Manager, Titanium Backup, Screencast Video Recorder and many others)
- install customized firmware, also called custom ROM’s, and/or on your device
The last item on the list is one that entices a great deal of users to the rooting scene. In many cases, installing (aka flashing) a new ROM to your phone or tablet opens up a plethora of options for your Android experience, including the opportunity to run versions of the operating system that have yet to be officially released for a specific device.
For instance, I own a T-Mobile HTC Amaze 4G. While, Ice Cream Sandwich was finally released officially for my phone last month, thanks to the help of custom ROMs made by developers in the Android community, I’ve actually had Android 4.0 on my phone (originally an Android 2.3 device) for some time now.
OK, I’m sold. Now, how do I root?
It is important to keep in mind that there are a ton of Android devices out there — all of which have different methods of obtaining root access. Some lucky phone and tablet owners have access to extremely simple “one-click” exploit methods, which take all the guesswork out and simplify the process.
Other devices may require knowledge of Android Debug Bridge (ADB), a versatile command line tool that lets you communicate with an emulator instance or connected Android-powered device.
At any rate, this is a question that, unfortunately, I cannot answer. I can, however, give you the most important link you will ever receive in your young life as an Android user. I strongly suggest you head over to the XDA-Developers Forums and do a search for your device’s forum.
Nearly every new Android device known to man has its own forum over on XDA. Once you’ve found the proper place, just head into the development section for your device and get ready to do some reading.
The best advice I can give you is to read everything carefully. If following directions isn’t something you are keen on, you may want to consider skipping the process, as there is a potential for damaging your device if you do something wrong.
In most cases, these methods have already been tried by groups of brave testers and can be considered legitimate. As is the case with any computer/Internet dealings, there is always a possibility for malicious use, so again — MAKE SURE YOU DO YOUR HOMEWORK. If the root method comes from someone who looks to be a trusted forum member with a good reputation, and the method itself is well-described, there’s a good possibility that everything is safe.
In my personal experiences, I’ve owned four different Android phones and five different Android tablets. I’ve rooted each one of them without any problems.
Q: Will rooting my phone damage my device?
A: As I mentioned earlier, it won’t as long as you can read directions thoroughly and your device has a stable, legitimate root method.
Q: If I root my phone and decide that I want to un-root, is that possible?
A: In many cases (not all), yes. Study up prior to rooting to make sure you can reverse the process if desired.
Q: What about my warranty? Doesn’t rooting void that?
A: This question is device-specific, but just to be on the safe side, we’ll just say “Yes.” Keep in mind, if there is a method to un-root, there is essentially a method to un-void your warranty.
Q: Will rooting my phone give me super powers?
A: Nope. Sorry.
That’s pretty much it, folks. A crash course on the ins-and-outs of rooting an Android device. Please keep in mind, if you decide to root your phone or tablet, we are not responsible for any damage you do, and we do not suggest rooting if you are uncomfortable with it.
If you have any thoughts, comments or suggestions for topics you’d like to see covered in this series, add us to your circles on Google+ and send us a line. We won’t bite (hard). Unless, of course you ask us to.