You saw Android Wear a couple of months ago when Google unveiled the SDK and both LG and Motorola presented the first promotional pictures. Then you watched the Google I/O keynote that officially launched the LG G Watch and Samsung's surprise addition of the Gear Live. And now you've got a shiny, brand new Android Wear watch before you... but all you can think about is ripping into the digital guts of that thing and doing all of the awful things that Google never intended.
Verizon customers who want to indulge in the more in-depth parts of Android don't often get the chance, thanks to the carrier's tendency to lock down bootloaders and close off most of the avenues to custom ROMs. But for major releases, manufacturers often sell contract-free variants with an unlockable bootloader. Like the S4 before it, the Galaxy S5 now has the option, and you can buy one directly from Samsung. Verizon won't sell it to customers online or in retail stores.
The new Xperia Z1s on T-Mobile is almost identical to the international Z1, except for the radio bands and some software tweaks. One thing that definitely isn't the same is the bootloader – it appears that T-Mobile has requested Sony not allow bootloader unlocks on this device. For a company trying to upend the traditional carrier model, this is awfully old-fashioned carrier behavior.
If you like to mod your Nexus devices but you're also a fan of tight security, you probably already know BootUnlocker. It's a simple app that allows rooted devices to lock and unlock the bootloader without wiping user data. The developer, segv11, is back with v1.5.1 of this handy little utility. The latest update adds support for the WiFi (flo) and LTE (deb) variants of the 2013 Nexus 7 and the ability to set the tamper flag on the Nexus 4 (mako) and Nexus 5 (hammerhead).
Did you know it's possible to unlock your Nexus 5 bootloader without wiping user data? If your device has already been rooted and relocked for optimal security, then unlocking is just a button tap away thanks to the latest update to BootUnlocker. Support for Google's latest flagship phone was just added with an update to version 1.4 of the app from XDA member segv11. Sadly, both generations of the Nexus 7 from ASUS remain unsupported.
Both AT&T and Verizon have repeatedly and vociferously stated that their policy of locking bootloaders isn't going away any time soon. And in both cases, public-spirited security researcher Dan Rosenberg has managed to fox them on at least some hardware. Like a mischievous trickster deity, the Loki tool has been pressed into service to work around the locked bootloaders of various Samsung and LG devices, and the latest update adds support for the flagship LG G2 on both carriers.
As promised, Motorola is making at least some of the bootloaders on its new flagship Moto X unlockable, opening the door for relatively easy root privileges, custom recoveries, and aftermarket ROMs. The Sprint, US Cellular, and forthcoming Latin American models of the Moto X can now be unlocked using Motorola's My Moto Care portal. Customers will need to create an account and have their device ID ready.
Naturally, unlocking your device's bootloader will void your warranty, even if you never do anything else with it.
In preparation for reporting on the general state of the Moto X bootloader, we reached out to AT&T for an official statement on the matter. We know that many potential buyers want to know whether they can fully modify their phones, especially after the HTC One X and Galaxy S4 were denied unlockable bootloaders on the carrier. Here's what they said in reply:
The Chromecast runs a modified version of Android, so of course modders are all over it like white on rice. The folks at GTVHacker already gave us a working bootloader hack and root access, not that there's much you can do with it at the moment except switch to the beta or dev channel. Unfortunately, a quick over-the-air update for the Chromecast seems to have closed this modding avenue already.