If you're part of the root and ROM Android enthusiast crowd, then you probably freaked out a bit back in March when it was revealed Google's SafetyNet check was getting a hardware-backed component with no easy workaround. Now, these changes have been spotted live in the wild, and some phones are already using hardware-backed SafetyNet attestation. Cue "the end is nigh" wailing.
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Android may be a wide-open world compared to iOS, but there are still some things you just can't do on Google's mobile platform. One of them is capturing screenshots within apps that prohibit the act — either because the screen contains sensitive information or content protected by digital rights management. Lucky, then, that we have a trick up our sleeve called rooting! Yes, even in 2020, it still has utility for the people who need it the most. So, if you'd like to grab a freezeframe to meme up or spoil a drama series or keep some backup passcodes where you can easily pull them out, we've got a way (or three) to do that.
It's the same procedure as every year: Google releases new development builds for the latest version of Android, and the developer community begins digging through the code to see how it can achieve root. That's true for this year, as well, as Magisk developer John Wu has published the first canary builds of his systemless root solution for Android 11's developer preview.
Magisk and Google have been playing a game of cat and mouse for years: Google's SafetyNet technology is supposed to be triggered when it notices a rooted device, but MagiskHide does its best to keep banking apps, Pokémon Go, and other root-despising applications going, no matter what you do with your phone. However, the latest update to SafetyNet, apparently rolling out via the Play Services, seems to put an end to the game permanently. Magisk developer John Wu isn't convinced he'll find a solution that would keep his tool intact once Google fully implements the change.
Magisk, the popular root solution, is testing an updated interface for its Magisk Manager app's latest Canary release. It's a pretty drastic redesign, and developer John Wu is clear that this isn't the final look, but we can expect a focus on "functionality over aesthetics." John Wu has also announced that the developer who did the new redesign will be the "main" maintainer for the app (but presumably not Magisk itself) in the future.
Android root solution Magisk first offered support for Android Q in Beta v19 back in March. Compatibility with the latest version of Android — now known as 10, not Q — has now made its way to the stable release of the utility in version 20.
Along with many other security-related updates, Android Q also changed how system partitions work for the Pixel 3 and 3a to allow the seamless installation of Generic System Images through dynamic system updates and improve general system safety. A side effect of these new logical partitions is a complete shift in the way root access can be enabled. Previously, Magisk developer John Wu stated that this would mean that Android Q couldn't be rooted on newer devices for quite some time going forward. But as always, Wu surpassed himself and announced that he achieved the first working full root on a Pixel 3XL running Android Q Beta 4.
Among Android root and ROM enthusiasts, the name John Wu is well known, being attached to the developer responsible for Magisk. Wu's systemless root solution has had a blistering development pace, repeatedly beating Google when it comes to the cat and mouse game imposed by SafetyNet and other system changes. But today the 23-year-old developer has announced a surprising career move: He's going to be an intern at Apple for the next four months.
Yesterday John Wu, the prolific developer behind the go-to Android root solution Magisk, released the public beta of Magisk version 19. The full changelog is available on XDA, with a more verbose version on the project's Github, but in short, v19 delivers a new module installation method, imageless support for modules, a return of native 64-bit support, a new MagiskHide system, and support for Android Q Beta 1.
Magisk developer John Wu has a history of quickly rooting both new phones and Android versions almost as soon as they land, but he's exceeded his own already high standards today. Android Q may only exist for consumers as leaked, half-built, buggy builds circulating among forums, but Wu has already rooted it.