Mobile games don't tend to look favorably on rooted devices — i.e. smartphones where the user has root access to the system code — due to the potential for cheating. However, not many go to the extreme that Niantic has just imposed with a recent update for its massively popular Pokémon GO game.
Android has evolved quite a lot into the operating system we know and love today, but years ago, many enthusiasts (including me) actively plugged its earlier feature gaps via a process called "rooting." In brief, rooting allows us to make modifications at the system level—though it does so at the cost of potentially reduced security, among other risks.
About everytwoyears we like to check in and see how many Android enthusiasts out there continue to root their devices, and here we are again. Do you (still?) root your Android phone?
Finding stock firmware for phones can be a pain, but Chainfire is here to help. He's launched a new website at firmware.mobi, where you can find official firmware for a variety of devices. It also simplifies the process of using CF-Auto-Root, if that's your goal.
For years, Google's Nexus line could be counted on for one thing, an unlockable bootloader. While carriers have occasionally had limited freedom to defile customize certain models sold through their service, owners were at least free to either modify the stock software or completely replace it with custom builds.
It goes without saying people were more than a little disheartened to learn Google's second attempt to team up with US carrier Verizon lead to yet another disappointing result: the Google Pixels sold through VZW have non-unlockable bootloaders. In fact, there are at least two carriers selling non-unlockable Pixels. The other is EE Limited (formerly Everything Everywhere) in the UK.
Around a year and a half ago, I asked you this very question. Two years before that, we also asked you. I'm asking you again, because I think rooting may be on the downswing even in the Android enthusiasts community these days, as Android itself has become more flexible and feature-rich over the years. In 2012, nearly three quarters of you said your primary Android smartphone was rooted, with the last poll around 18 months ago seeing the proportion of rooted devices drop by 10 points, to just 63%.
So, I ask you again today: is your primary Android smartphone rooted?
We don't talk about rooting nearly as much these days. It's not that plenty of people aren't still doing it, but the popularity of modding has slowly dropped off as Android continues to mature. One of the leading deterrents to rooting is the hassle of manually staying current with updates, which can take more effort than it's worth–especially with Google adopting a monthly rollout schedule for Nexus security updates. Chainfire, developer of SuperSU, has updated his app FlashFire to take the pain out of keeping up-to-date by adding support for OTA packages and Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
If you're going to do any serious modding on your Android smartphone, your first step is going to be unlocking the bootloader. This is a simple procedure on Nexus devices and a few other handsets, but many of the top OEMs have added security measures to prevent regular users from mucking about with their stock software. For these devices, there's a tool called Sunshine by recognized developers Justin Case (jcase), beaups, and friends. Version 3.0 just came out, and it can unlock the bootloader and acquire S-Off with almost every modern Motorola and HTC smartphone on the market.
Back in March, Justin Case released a root tool called WeakSauce for HTC's flagship lineup on Verizon. Unfortunately, a steady procession of updates to each handset has patched the original exploit, leaving many without root. Now there's a new version of WeakSauce, and it can root just about every HTC phone on Verizon running Android 4.4.4 and below.
Named WeakSauce 2: The Habanero's Revenge, this tool works just like its predecessor, and it's completely free. Just install the apk from this thread on XDA and run it to attain root. Once it has finished, just install SuperSU from the Play Store and you're ready to go.
The final round of Developer Preview images released on Friday left a number of users without root access on their devices, but a lightning fast quick-fix by Chainfire had them back in business the following day. Yesterday, he took to Google+ with a follow-up of how it works and the issues that are making it more difficult to acquire root on the latest version of Android.
Due to increasingly effective security measures and stricter enforcement of SELinux, it seems that many, or possibly all of the available methods for initializing the SuperSU daemon at startup have been rendered ineffective. As part of Chainfire's updated root, custom kernels were posted for the Nexus 5, Nexus 7, and ADT-1 that switch a few SELinux policies to permissive mode so that SuperSU can be run in the correct context after a device boots up.
Much to the chagrin of cell carriers and hardware manufacturers, there are still many in the Android community that choose to delve into the world of hacking and modding their phones. Owners of the Verizon Moto G are certainly in this crowd, and they've been eagerly awaiting a reliable method for unlocking their bootloaders. It turns out that their wait ends today. Sunshine, a tool built by Justin Case, Beaups, and others to unlock HTC and Motorola phones, just gained support for the Moto G on Verizon.
In case you've never heard of SunShine before, you'll want to check out the thread on XDA-Developers for more details, but it's pretty simple.