What does it mean to jailbreak or root your phone? It means you truly make it your own. For instance, if you wanted to check for or delete the Carrier IQ keystroke logger on hundreds of millions of devices, you’d have to root it first and then run the diagnostic to detect and get rid of it. If you wish.
There are a lot of other good reasons to root your Android phone, too. Here’s a little perspective to help you decide if you want to root yours.
Get the Apps You Want (Not the Apps They Think You Want)
An example. One of the best backup applications in the Android Market is Titanium Backup. Even though there are some free backup applications — and you might have some of them on your phone when you buy it — Titanium Backup includes features that make it a cut above. That means built-in backup jobs — the ability to schedule backups and even the ability to sync your backups to the paid version of Dropbox.
Tether Your Android Phone to Other Smartphones
This is the main reason most people root their phones in the first place. They want to wirelessly tether other devices to the 3G and 4G mobile internet connections on their phones. Once you have root access on your phone, You can try to download one of the many free wireless tether applications once available — but most wireless carriers block these apps from sale and use. I typically recommend WiFi Tether. Download it for free directly to you phone.
Get More Power and More Pop Out of Your Apps
With root access comes power — the possibility of improved performance and definitely the increased range of functionality that comes with being in total control of the operation of your phone.
There’s a huge community of Android developers out there who create applications that require root access in order to do some pretty cool stuff. Some applications, such as Widget Locker, don’t require root to run but do need it in order to access advanced features like auto-swiping past the Android lock screen, especially if it’s locked with a PIN or other code.
Another Android app worth noting: BlueputDroid. It allows users to control their PC, PS3, or other devices via Bluetooth. It requires root access to even work.
Rooting Your Phone Lets You Overclock It
You can use root access to overclock your processor. The processors in today’s cell phones can be tweaked to go faster than the rate says on the package. As Android 4.0.1 and newer versions of Android come out that need more juice, you’ll wish you had a faster processor. You can get it with overclocking. Just be careful not to damage your phone — that’s easy to do if you overclock it at too high a rate. Check out the discussion boards over at XDA-Developer for recommendations as to how high you should reasonably overclock to enjoy a faster phone and future whizzy Android releases.
Eric Finkenbiner is a corporate tech pro and veteran member of the edit team that relaunched BYTE in 2011, an editor and podcaster at our partner GroovyPost and a founding editor here at aNewDomain. Send him your rooting reasons, ideas and tips. Follow him on Google+ or on Twitter at @mybrotherisChad
Great piece Eric. If you are unhappy with the way your stock android experience is, you should definitely root and use a custom rom before you think about switching to that “other” smartphone.
Agreed! Excellent piece. You’ve got to root that Android phone before you run the detect Carrier IQ software (and delete it if you wish : ) gs
Very Helpful and informative. I rooted my phone quite sometime back for the purpose of using it with Battery Calibration App which requires root access. I am happy as this app really works.
The rooting world is an amazing phenomenon.The numbers are astounding. XDA-Developers recently announced it had reached 5 million registered users–and since you can download ROMs, kernels, etc. without registering, I’d have to figure that they have at least that many lurkers. And while XDA is clearly the top site–at least for Android devices–there are dozens of others. It’s an exciting thing to take part in — there’s so much innovative development going on in the communities that have arisen around just about any device worth having. (And more than a few that probably aren’t any more — for instance, there’s at least one Jellybean ROM available for the HTC Droid Eris which hasn’t received an official update in close to three years.
It also amazes me with all that activity takes place, the vast majority of phone and tablet users remain unaware of it. How many millions of users have come to loathe perfectly good phones ruined by mobile provider installed bloatware?
At this point I have to confess that, due to various life events keeping me too busy to think, the new phone I picked up a couple of months ago is still running its original unrooted software. It makes me wince every time I look at it. I haven’t even decided if I like the phone, and won’t until I get Cyanogen or SlimBean or some other AOSP ROM up and running on it. But that day is coming soon, and it’ll be a good one. My overclocked, Jellybean-powered Nook Tablet is all the proof I need of that.