Why should I root my Android phone?

I have been enjoying the benefits of a rooted G1 for months now. My Dad has recently become interested in the open-source project and in developing some android apps. Right now he has a Blackberry curve simply because it was free, but a guy he works with got the new Droid with Verizon, he had been wanting an iPhone but not At&t and finally settled on the droid because they are all software engineers and run linux (an open source operating system that android was built on) on their personal computers.  My dad saw the power of my rooted phone to run an app called aNet Share which turns your phone into a “secure” wireless router (it saved us 20 bucks a day paying for wifi in the hotel we were staying at) but wondered what the other advantages of rooting were…

I once heard that in a classroom of 30 people if one person asks a question, statistically 7 other people had the exact same question but didn’t know to ask it or were too afraid too. so assuming that there are 3 million android phones out there (random uneducated estimate) this is for the remaining 689,999 of you.

I found a great list at android-dls.com and wanted to include it and expound on some of those points to illustrate which ones i have used and have benefited me.

  1. Full control over your system
  2. Ability to alter system files. You can replace many parts of the “Android Core” with this including:
    • Themes (pictured below)
    • Ability to alter the number of home screens from 3 to 10 or anything in between.
    • Core apps (maps, calendar, clock etc. Google is fighting some of this. They don’t want anyone to tamper with their “Google Experience” applications. They are Google’s property so i guess they have the right to do that.)
    • Recovery image (apply updates, preform total phone backups, access console, partition your SD card to use less phone memory and actually run your apps and store data on SD card and have a ton of phone memory so that it runs fast.)
    • Bootloader
    • for the G1 there is a 10MB ram hack that makes your phone run faster. Helpful when your running so many apps and widgets on 7 screens.
    • Toolbox (linux binary that lets you execute simple linux commands like “ls”) can be replaced with Busybox (slightly better option)
    • Boot images
    • Add linux binaries
    • Overclock your phone. Manage power to CPU to fine tune speed and response time.
  3. Run special apps that need more control over the system
    • SuperUser (lets you approve or deny the use of root access to any program)
    • Task Manager For Root (Lets you kill apps that you otherwise could not kill)
    • Tether apps (like like aNetShare that turns you phone into a mobile Wifi hotspot, Pictured below)
    • Take screenshots using the android SDK or thru downloaded apps (part of being a superuser)
  4. Backup your system
    • You can make a folder on your sdcard and backup all of your .apk files to your sdcard (helps if an author decides to “upgrade” you to a version that requires you to pay to use the version you just had)
  5. Relocate your (browser/maps/market) cache to your /sdcard
  6. Relocate your installed applications to your /sdcard meaning your phone runs faster with way more apps on it.
  7. Reboot your phone from the terminal emulator app easily (su <enter> reboot <enter>)

What Do I Lose Having Root

  1. The ability to accept Over The Air updates (apps exist to do it simply though, and you get updates pre-OTA )
  2. There is a small chance of turning your phone into a paper weight. But if you follow instructions and let the programs run their course then you should be ok. Even people who are not great with computers but enjoy figuring stuff out can easily root their phones. We have written instructions on how to root to the latest Cyanogen Mod and enjoy the full power of a rooted Device.

These are some screen shots that show what themes are, no they are not the annoying and ever popular apps that bog down your android market searching (try reading our article on My Market its an app that filters the crap out of the android market) no, they are like a whole new updated system that just looks cooler…

This is the standard C.M. version of 1.6 (Cyanogen Mod 4.2.7.1 as of the writing of this post) available to root users as a modded User Interface:

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You can see the standard clock and everything… the blocky fonts, the original battery and 3G and service bar monitors. Oh, by the way, i want to reiterate, this is running cyanogen’s version of 1.6 when all my friends unrooted phones are still using 1.5 and waiting for the Over The Air update.

This is the “Enoch Dark” Theme it changes just some small details but i really like it. There are a ton available, at http://android-themes.net/ and if the developer has updated them then they work great on your phone.

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There are a bunch of other themes that have also been available on that website, Enoch is most frequently updated to match the latest Cyanogen Mod versions. Meaning as of right now its the only one I know of that’s working properly.  Some of the other built themes are:

Sponge Bob Theme:

Android-SpongeBob-SquarePants-Cartoon-Theme

then some other ones “Dark” Themes:

Android-JesterBlur-Dark-Theme

Android-MarksTheme-Dark-Theme

It changes the font, the colors, a lot of the icons are changed. They create there own icons and pull down menus and home screens. Its just fun. Like I said it can also be a little bit finicky you have to make sure that if your updating thru Cyanogen that the themes you like and are using also support his latest versions otherwise you’ll be stuck in the boot screen and have to take out the battery, restart the phone in recovery mode and re-apply the previous OS.

This however (to me) is the biggest reason to root an android device, So that you can use it the same way you use a wireless router at home. I use an app called aNetShare. This is what it looks like when you open it up:

anetshare

Then you click the “Start – WiFi AP” Button and it will tell you this message:

anetshare (3)

Now you can use your G1 or Mytouch (Right now we can only figure out how to root T-Mobile HTC devices, Motorola and Verizon, have put blocks against rooting the phone because Motorola is feeling overprotective and Verizon wants to charge you 15.00 a month starting in Feb 2010 for mobile tethering) as the internet connection for your computer! Data speeds depend on your data connection, 3G is super fast (considering its a mobile phone) Just use a speed tester on your computer to find out your up/download speeds.

Its also Secure! When people want to log on to your phone the bar will pop up and you can click the check mark to enable/disable their access!

anetshare (2)

The biggest downside is this app DRAINS your battery. So have it plugged in either to your computer to charge or the wall. But its not nessecaryto run the application, just my personal recommendation. Then when your done, Push the “Stop – WiFi AP” button and aNetShare will stop and you’ll be back to using your phone like normal!

anetshare (4)

aNetShare cannot be downloaded on the android market in the U.S. But can easily be found on the internet. just search “aNetShare.apk free download” in Google, download it and also download a “tether.tar” and use the instructions to apply it on the android developer forum. Install the app from your SD card using an App installer and your good to go! Comment at bottom with any questions and “may the Droid be with you!”

-ASM

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