What is “root” and is it for you?
Android has always been the “free” operating system. When compared to something like iOS, you can tailor everything to suit your needs. But some users want MORE POWER! Thankfully, you can do that too! If you know your way around fastboot commands gaining “root” access or flashing new ROMs is easy! There are plenty of guides out there that talk you through modifying your phone, so if that’s what you’re looking for head over to XDA Developers. Today, I want to talk about why you’d want to do so, and some things to avoid.
Firstly, what is root? Well, I’m not talking about a character from Person Of Interest, so don’t expect Amy Acker to appear after typing a few commands. Oh how I wish that’s what it was… Anyway. Put simply, root gives you system level access. It’s like having a key to the safe where your operating system is stored. Obviously you won’t want to go in and start changing the files around or deleting them. But there are some cool things that can be achieved.
The main thing you’re going to do with root access is downloading apps that make use of it. Custom launchers can use root access to hide aspects of the UI, or gain Google Now access. A favourite among root users is “Greenify,” an app that prevents rogue applications from keeping your device awake. This, combined with its “force doze” feature can significantly increase battery life.
If your phone is compatible, root lets you install a theme engine like Substratum. Substratum can install themes from the play store that give the whole OS, and even applications a fresh new look! Substratum is the pinnacle of customisation.
If you’re using a device that runs a heavy OEM skin, let’s say a Samsung, root is great. All those horrible Samsung apps that come preinstalled and take up internal storage? Gone! Root is perfect for getting rid of all that bloat without changing ROMs and losing some of Samsung’s useful features.
Sadly, there’s a misconception that root ruins performance and leaves you vulnerable to viruses and attacks. So long as you’re careful there’s nothing to worry about. Most root methods come with a manager app. These put you in control over what is allowed root access and what isn’t. So long as you’re careful about what you install and where you download it from, you’ll be fine. As for performance, I have the same advice. Be careful. Don’t make drastic changes without backing things up just to be safe.
Root sounds pretty good doesn’t it? There are a few things to consider, though. Make sure that you backup everything regularly. Always keep a system image or something similar on your PC, just in case the worst happens. Root can also interfere with software updates, so learn how to install them manually.
Lastly, root will make your device fail Play Store verification and safetynet. Apps like Netflix block devices that fail these tests, so you’d have to sideload the apk manually. Android Pay and some banking apps reject root as well, so if you use these applications bear that in mind. There are ways of masking root status from the likes of Android Pay, but Google are constantly making that harder, so I wouldn’t count on that always being an option.
So if you want to try something new, get rid of bloat or enjoy tinkering, root could be for you! It’s just another example of what Android is capable of, so if you’re interested give it a go!