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.
This story was originally published and last updated .
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.
Ahead of Android 10's official launch, developer Kieron Quinn published DarQ, an application that forces the new OS' dark theme on a per-app basis, complete with a scheduling option that's still extremely useful to this day. Until now, the product had exclusively relied on root access, but Quinn shared with us that following a recent update to version 1.2, you can grant the needed permissions via ADB — no root required anymore.
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.
Google's new Live Caption near real-time transcription feature was set to be a Pixel 4 exclusive, later coming to the Pixel 3 and 3a by the end of the year. As always in the world of Android features, it was only a matter of time until dissatisfied tinkerers got other phones got in on the fun, with or without official support. Our friends at XDA Developers have managed to get Live Caption working on any Android 10 device, including older Pixels.
While we said in our review that the Pixel 4 and 4 XL's displays are perfectly usable outdoors, they're still not emitting as much light as many competing handsets. A hidden high brightness mode fixes this and substantially increases the Pixels' maximum brightness. Root access is required to activate it, though, and your battery life will most likely suffer.
Before Android 10's official release, an automation feature called "Rules" was discovered during the beta phase that many hoped would make its way into the final build of the OS. Although it didn't appear as feature-rich as Tasker, it seemed like a good starting point for Google to build on. After being absent for a while, the Rules feature began popping up for certain Android 10 Pixel users as a server-side update. If you'd rather not wait for Google to activate the feature for you, there is a short and simple method available now, assuming you have a rooted Pixel phone running Android 10.
The Pixel 4 is the first Android phone to feature a proper secure face unlock mechanism that can't be easily fooled by pictures or similar looking people. To enable authentication in banking apps or password managers, this technology requires Android 10's new biometrics API. Since it's different from the previous fingerprint API, there are only a handful of applications that already support it. A new Xposed module provides a workaround for unsupported apps that aren't yet compatible with the Pixel 4's face unlock. The only caveat: it requires root access.