Two days ago, the White House announced its support for carrier unlocking handsets. The administration promised an FCC/NTIA investigation as well as a willingness to "work with Congress" on legislation to fix the problem. So, we can probably count on the President's support of the new Wireless Device Independence Act, introduced last night by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The bill, which is only three pages long, has a simple goal: amend the DMCA such that it explicitly allows the unlocking of cell phones, obviating the need for a tri-yearly exemption.
In October of 2012, the Library of Congress elected not to renew DMCA exemptions that explicitly allow end users to unlock their cell phones at will, thus ending a six year tradition. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move. The quest to do something about it began almost immediately. And by "almost immediately" I mean "nearly three months later and at almost the very last minute."
Still, regardless of when the outrage gained steam, the fact is it did.
At this point, you've probably heard that starting tomorrow, it will become illegal to unlock your smartphone to use it on another carrier. You certainly should have heard so since the decision was made three months ago. That being said, there are still quite a few questions that folks want to have answered. Chief among them, 'How does this affect me?' Well, I'm glad you asked, dear reader.
For a bit of context, first, let's take a look at exactly what has changed.
Nearly a couple weeks ago, the Jelly Bean (4.1.1) update to the Evo 4G LTE
XL BBQ began to roll out. By now, we think it's safe to say that most or all of you have it. If you don't, however, or if you've already updated, flashed another ROM, and want to get back to stock, then maybe I can interest you in a nice RUU?
As a side note, if you're HTCDev unlocked, you'll need to relock your handset or you'll get an error while trying to run the .exe.
When the Droid DNA was first announced, we were all surprised to find that the bootloader was unlockable at HTCdev.com. Because of this, the device actually got root, recovery, and custom kernel days before the official release. Unfortunately, by the time the device became available in retail channels, Verizon pulled the plug and it was no longer unlocked through official means.
Thankfully, there's another way (isn't there always?). The softmod below will effectively change the carrier information, allowing it to once again be unlocked via HTC's official tool.
A few days ago, developer mskip released the Nexus 4 toolkit, which simplifies the unlock/root/recovery/etc. process on the device. The same dev has now released the Nexus 10 toolkit, which does essentially the same thing, only for Google's first 10" slate. These toolkits really take the work out of doing a number of otherwise potentially tedious tasks:
FUNCTIONS OF GOOGLE NEXUS 10 TOOLKIT V1.0.0 [20TH NOVEMBER 2012]
* Install correct adb/fastboot drivers automatically on Windows xp/vista/7/8 32bit+64bit
* Backup/Restore a single package or all apps, user data and Internal Storage
* Backup your /data/media (virtual SD Card) to your PC for a Full Safe backup of data
* Unlock/Re-Lock your Bootloader
* Root Stock Jelly Bean builds (upto 4.2.0 JOP40C)
* 1-Click For All to Unlock the Bootloader, Root, Rename the Restore File and Flash Custom Recovery
* Perform a FULL NANDROID Backup of your system (Boot, Cache, Data, Recovery and System) via adb and save in Custom Recovery format on your PC which can be Restored via CWM Recovery
* Pull /data and /system folders, compress to a .tar file and save to your PC
* Dump selected Phone Partitions, compress to a .zip file with md5 and save to your PC
* Install BusyBox on your phone
* Extras, Tips and Tricks section available to all ToolKit Donators
* Auto Update ToolKit to latest pushed version at startup (donator feature)
* Program up to 10 Quickpic slots and run them very quickly (donator feature)
* Mods section to automatically perform certain tasks on your phone
* Download Google Stock Image directly to correct ToolKit folder for extracting and flashing (no need to move it manually anymore)
* Flash Custom Recovery or Google Stock Image to phone
* Rename the Recovery Restore File present on some Stock Roms
* Boot into CWM Touch Recovery without Flashing it
* Boot or Flash .img Files directly from your PC
* Install a single apk or multiple apk's to your phone
* Push Files from your PC to your phone
* Pull Files from your phone to your PC
* Dump selected LogCat buffers to your PC
* Dump BugReport to your PC
* Set Files Permissions on your phone
* Open new Command Prompt for manual input
* Reboot Phone to Fastboot Mode or Android from fastboot mode
* Reboot Phone to Fastboot Mode, Recovery, Android or Download Mode from adb mode
Good news, bad news, and really bloody ridiculous news, Android fans. Today, the latest round of DMCA exemptions has been passed and if you've ever jailbroken or rooted a phone, you'll be happy to know that this will continue to be legal. At least, for your phones. If, however, you want to gain su access to your tablet, you're fresh out of luck. Also, phones purchased after January 2013 cannot be legally unlocked for use on a carrier that didn't give you explicit permission.
Following up on last year's slide-to-unlock patent grab (which itself built on a patent granted in 2010), Apple has been granted another, yet more expansive slide-to-unlock patent, one which ditches the previous patents' emphasis on "predefined paths" in favor of more ambiguous language covering the movement of an unlock image to "an unlock region" on a device's display.
While US Patent 8,286,103 is largely similar to Apple's previous two slide-to-unlock, its language is considerably broader.