Most of us who have rooted our Android devices can remember our first root. For me, it was the MyTouch 3G Slide. It was an easy, one-click method that, at the time, seemed overwhelming and awesome. Nowadays, it would be a 5 minute exercise with just a few clicks. Like everyone else, the first thing I installed was CyanogenMod 6. It was good times. Back then everyone was rooting for various reasons. People wanted to install custom ROMs, they wanted to install tweaks and mods to improve performance or cellular service, they wanted to try the bleeding edge features that developers invented, or they just wanted root access to use some root-only applications like Root Explorer or Titanium Backup.
So how about now? Steve Kondik, the mastermind behind CyanogenMod, posed a very simple and interesting question. What do people actually use root for these days? With devices being more powerful than they’ve ever been before, most people aren’t scoping the latest ROMs on XDA for performance enhancements like they used to. The cutting edge Android features have already been welded into Android for the most part. Long gone are the days where you had to install a custom ROM just to have toggles in your notification panel. This has evolved into the quick settings screen that all Android devices have now.
So what were the answers? We’ll give you a short list of some of the most popular answers people gave for rooting their phone.
You’ll notice people didn’t say things like installing custom ROMs, improving performance, improving cell signal, etc. That’s because OEMs have actually eliminated these problems by giving us better hardware. Notice too how no one is clamoring to try the latest, bleeding edge features. That’s because Google and OEMs have already implemented all the best ones into the unrooted Android experience. Simply put, most of the important things we used rooting to obtain now come stock with most Android phones.
Now, to put things in perspective, if Steve Kondik had posed this question 2 years ago, the list would be much, much longer. Android has come a long way in the last few years. The conclusion is that with each new iteration of Android and each new generation of hardware, there are fewer and fewer reasons for rooting. It’s all come down to a handful of apps that we all enjoy using. There are some much more technical reasons as well. One example Steve gave was managing a DNS resolver.
Steve had an answer for that as well. He says, “Going forward, I’m interested in building framework extensions and APIs into CM to continue to abolish the root requirement.”
Going forward, I'm interested in building framework extensions and APIs into CM to continue to abolish the root requirement.Steve Kondik
This is actually a reasonable and good idea. So good, in fact, that a few Android programmers straight from Google have been paying attention. This is how it starts, folks. This is how things like notification toggles in CM evolve into today’s Android Quick Settings. It starts with a good idea by a talented developer and gets picked up by the all mighty Google.
I have no intention of removing root from CM. What I want to see is the common use cases supported by the platform so that we can write more powerful apps.Steve Kondik
So the question is, why do you go about rooting your phone these days? If something like this were implemented where root-only apps could become part of the general Android experience, would you even need a reason to root anymore? Our own Derek Ross admits his root requirements are diminishing and, admittedly, I did too. So we’ve got big name developers talking about integrating new APIs and modifications to abolish root and Google is listening. Could this be the beginning of the end? If you’d like to discuss things, feel more than free to leave a comment.
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If Android had a built-in Greenify, Screencast, setting for changing boot animation, moarh GUI settings and the recovery had a backup option, I wouldn’t necessarily need root but I’d probably root anyways, because it’s always good to have it if you suddenly need it
The real point of Steve’s question is you might not need root any longer once you root your phone to install CyanogenMod. Once you’re on CM, do you need root still? Which is why CM stable ships with root disabled by default. If you need it, you can turn it on. Remember this from over a year ago. http://www.cyanogenmod.org/blog/security-and-you.
I specifically state that this is talented developers talking shop and that Android is listening. I never insinuate that this is Google’s work in progress, but Steve’s.
I would sure hope not. Google doesn’t ship Android with the su binary or superuser apk.
don’t know why they just don’t add a menu to the recovery menu to allow root if you wish , your average numpty wouldn’t know or care what that was……
Or to the developers options which are hidden by default unless you hit a certain spot a certain number of times.
Without any choices, android would just be ios. Don’t take choices away.
This isn’t removing choices. This is allowing root-apps to become part of the stock Android experience.
Imagine not needing root to back up apps or use Juice Defender. Root is still there, but if that’s all you need it for, then you don’t really need it anymore.
Did you even read the article?
When someone asks for help with something you say “do better” too right?
Of course I read it.
most important reason…because I can…and to get rid of bloat…which will never end…
I am a VZW Galaxy Nexus user, back in wait mode for 4.3. If at some point VZW stops supporting the GN, or if Google stops putting out updates for it, then, yes, it’s back to root to eke out as much life from this phone as possible.
If manufacturers didn’t put all that bloatware & gave us a bare android os & root worked from the jump then i would enjoy it then but until that happens I will root & flash a custom rom always don’t like the extras
Not everyone hates OEM skins. Some people like them quite a bit. So removing those options and forcing everyone to use just stock Android is actually the removal of options, which goes against everything Android is.
That’s true but it’s my preference that’s what I like but to others they do enjoy the stock os but I don’t so that’s why I root & flash
I was actually a fan of HTC Sense. I still flashed custom ROMS, but the one I chose had Sense in it.
I tried rooting my phone a few times but gave up in the end. Nothing worked. Sony is hard to root :(
Whoa, author, how did you not explicitly state the BIGGEST reason users have for rooting? Wi-Fi tethering. No one wants to pay carriers again for data they already paid for. It’s our data; we paid for it. Rooting lets us decide how we want to use it.
Because even if WiFi tethering is a huge rip off, getting it for free via root is still technically stealing. We don’t condone stealing, even if it’s something that is vastly overpriced.
I like your stance and agree. However, wouldn’t it be disingenuous to post a list saying the top reasons and it is not actually that list? Posting honest results doesn’t in any way condone stealing.
I never said it was a popular thing, another commentor did. Feel free to read Kondik’s original post. Like 2 people out of a couple hundred mention tethering and I’m pretty sure one of them said they stopped doing so once they got the option to pay for it. I simply said I didn’t list it because of the potential legal ramifications.
You’re right, it is stealing. Carriers are stealing from consumers by, like I said before, charging consumers for the data they’ve already paid for.
Wi-Fi tethering is a feature of the device – a device that I purchased. That feature consumes carrier bandwidth (i.e. data) that I purchased too. So it’s complete BS to say that getting a feature of a device for free is technically stealing. Tell me exactly what I stole. Goodness, the carriers must have done a good job brainwashing you.
the contract you signed, and agreed to the terms of, says otherwise. the data you purchased is only to be used on your phone, no other device, you can rationalize all you want, but you signed the contract to only use data on your phone.
Wasn’t in my contract. Also, we DO pay for the data on limited data plans. A clause like that is like saying you can use your camera for anything except taking pictures of say, your feet. If you take pictures of your feet, you must pay us $20/mo. Why? How did taking a picture of your own feet cost them anything? What, exactly did you steal? Nothing.
read the contract again, i guarantee it is in there. Not saying you dont pay for the data, but your provider determines how you can use it, like it or not. You are using THEIR cellular network, comparing it to another object(camera) is not comparable. Take the device off the providers network and you are free to use it however you want on your OWN network. The provider maintains the right to manage the traffic on THEIR network (again, in the contract you agreed to). You own your PC, right? but are you free to send out denial of service attacks across your internet connection or send out millions of SPAM messages? Of course not, the terms of service of your ISP, specifically prohibits it. Most ISPs also won’t allow you to host a public server without paying extra. why? because doing that, puts extra strain on THEIR network, and they are allowed to recoup their expenses to maintain that network. Whether you agree with the prices or not is a different subject. Or how abut we compare it to a car, you own that(or maybe the bank still does), but you pay extra to travel the network of roads (gas taxes, tolls on the interstate).
so basically, yes you are FREE to do whatever you want with your device as long as it isn’t running on someone elses network. Then you are subject to their rules and regulations, if you don’t like it, build your own network.
yes it was in your contract, ( if you are on any of the big 4 carriers in the USA). A camera and a phone are appples and oranges, your phone uses a leased network, you dont own it. You have no right to use someone elses network as you please. my car can go 150mph, but i cant legally go that fast on roads that i do not own.
it doesn’t matter if you feel like you have the “right” to use the data you pay for however you want, you signed a legal contract saying that you can’t. You can rationalize all you want, but the bottom line is, the cell phone company has the legal upper hand.
Pffft… Says you…
If I own my device then what I choose to do with it is nobody’s business but my own.
Not to get all nationalisitc on your @ss, but don’t broadly brush US style hyper-judiciousness across the entire worldwide Android ecosystem.
Did you know that in many countries it’s illegal for carriers to sell sim-locked devices? subsidized or otherwise?
You interpretation of what is or isn’t “technically stealing” is extremely region specific. As a contributor to a site that is read by a worldwide audience you should frankly know better.
no it isn’t.
stealing – taking without legal right or permission. If you take anything without legal right or permission, it’s theft. That translates accurately in every language ever. If you take a service and don’t pay for it, it’s stealing service. Just because it only applies in certain regions doesn’t mean that the definition is invalid everywhere else. Doesn’t matter where you live.
Ok, so take the case of a BYOD situation where you bring your device to a carrier that moronically requires you to pay a premium for tethering and my device of choice is an N4?
I don’t have to root squat to tether, (you know this) it’s just a toggle under my setting->wifi
Does that also count as theft?
Listen Jo, I don’t know what to say to you. I respect your writing whether I agree/disagree with your point of the day.
You know as well as I do that functionally there’s no difference between downloading content over 3/4G to your primary device then moving to a 2ndary device with a USB key or something vs. tethering your 2ndary device directly to your primary device and downloading content straight to it.
Most carriers (fine perhaps outside the US) have clued into this and therefore tethering is frankly a non-issue, nor has it been for some time.
Unless I’m misunderstanding your point or something.
My personal feelings do not matter. I’ve used root to tether before and I think it’s wrong that carriers charge people extra in order to do so just like all of you. But even if it is wrong (which I agree with) and even if people root to tether (which I’m also okay with), that doesn’t change what the definition of what stealing is :) that’s my point here. Yes, it is, in fact stealing. Even if there are good reasons to justify doing so (it’s my data, i paid for it, etc), that doesn’t change the fact that carriers charge people for it and that people are taking that service without paying for it. Don’t confuse the “reality” of the situation with my personal feelings for it. The reality: it’s theft. My opinion: I don’t care if people do it.
But you’re not taking anything. So it can’t be stealing. It’s NOT a service. It’s a function of the phone. It’s no different than downloading to your phone normally, then copying the file to your PC as opposed to tethering to your PC and downloading through your phone. Charging for tethering is the equivalent of charging for swiping left instead of right. It’s not even possible for them to know your doing it unless the phone reports back to them what you’re doing locally. You’re not using their resources. You’re not taking anything. They’re just randomly claiming you have to pay them for some random feature already available to you. They might as well have a fee for using the phone while sitting on the crapper. It’s just as logical.
just because you don’t agree to their logic, doesn’t give you the right to do whatever you want, you signed the contract, you have to follow the terms of it or they will charge or cancel your service accordingly.
I don’t agree with my car manufacturers limited warranty on some parts of my car, but that doesn’t give me the right to demand they fix something for free that breaks a mile over the warranty. I can complain all I want, but they are well within their right to tell me to go pound sand. If I wanted longer coverage, I’d have to pay extra for an extended warranty. Is that fair? that’s a matter of perspective…. I could buy a car from another company…and then deal with their TOS/warranties or lack of other features I like with my current manufacturer of choice.
Terms of Service are not consumer friendly, do as you please but don’t complain when/if it ever bites you in the a** for not adhering to them.
Its stealing IF you take bandwidth OVER your data cap without paying. Otherwise you PAID for 2.5 gig (or whatever)….so who gives a rats patoot HOW you slurp what you paid for. Your argument is moot unless you are talking about a scheme to take more than you paid for. The rest of it from the carriers is simply price gouging the consumer.
whether you agree with their price gouging or not, you still agreed to THEIR terms when you signed up on THEIR network. You dont get to sign a contract, then pick and choose what parts of it you agree with. You are playing semantics with the word “stealing”, bottom line is, if you tether without a tethering plan, you are in breach of a valid legal contract.
Technically that’s not true to an extent. For example, if you are Verizon Wireless, you are allowed to tether. Verizon had illegally forced Google to block tethering apps from Verizon customers, until the FCC got involved. When Verizon purchased space inside of the Goverment’s “C Block” they also were accepted / forced or however you want to word it that they would not block any or all devices from using radio in that space or in other words the “Open Access Rule”. Verizon HAS to allow tethering – shall not deny, limit, or restrictthe ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice on the licensee’s C Block network,“ according to the FCC, with “narrow exceptions.”.
Of course there’s exceptions; Those who are on the grandfathered unlimited dataplans. Everyone is fair game.
T-Mobile ftw. Free tethering.
Actually, under their new data plans T-mo has also started charging for said service. It’s not technically an extra fee, but is built into their pricing. I had truly unlimited data with no throttling for $15 but said I wanted tethering and now I pay $20 for 4.5 GB or “4G” speeds.
Cricket has it baked into their plans now as well.
Or, you could move to Canada, where Wifi-Tethering is available as standard. The carriers here, including Rogers, Bell and Telus, allow you to Wifi-Tether without a problem.
I’m like you. I already pay every month for a certain amount of data, and no one is going to tell me how to use it …. and it appears the Canadian carriers agree. I really don’t understand the issue with U.S. carriers not allowing it. It boggles my mind.
As a fellow Canuck, I would honest take your point and move it one step further. At this stage of the game and as crappy as RoBellus can be (especially as it relates to billing), I no longer think it’s an issue of Wifi-tethering being “available” or being “allowed to wifi-tether”.
It’s your device and frankly it’s unenforceable (User-agent tricks aside), and I think our carriers have come to realize that and aren’t prepared to die on that hill.
For all their faults, wifi-tethering is a non-issue nor has it been one for as long as I can remember.
I have always rooted and installed a custom launcher on every phone I’ve had. (Before android, I would jailbreak my iPhone.) The HTC One is the first phone I haven’t rooted or even installed a custom launcher on. Android has come a long way. I don’t even need to root for sixaxis anymore because I have a Moga controller.
I root to remove bloatware
I’m also A VZW GNex user, already on 4.3 and enjoying speed and battery that stock would never have allowed. I root for wifi tether, greenify, titanium, to remove the bloatware and to tweak my phone as i wish. Another thing that I didn’t see mentioned is the ability to choose themes in customs ROMs, for a very unique and customized device. That and the extra tweaks built into ROMs like AOKP and CM. Things like kill buttons, nav rings, customizable led colors, toggles and hardware buttons are still better rooted and ROM’ed.
I also rooted, and still use daily, a Nook Color on CM7. I especially love the irony of reading my Kindle books on it. I tried updating to a newer version of Android, but found its hardware lacking the power need to run it, and so returned to a previous version. It’s that kind of flexibility that makes rooting still worthwhile.
You forgot to mention FIREWALL.
I root solely to install DroidWall. It’s legal, and it’s not stealing anything. Why don’t you mention in article ?
Not sure how they compiled their ‘popular’ reasons but presumably as useful as it is to you, root for firewall didn’t fall under their ‘popular’ reasons.
I did actually mention it in the article. The very last reason “various networking activities” …which includes stuff like firewalls, VPNs, etc.
If I could run apps that require root privileges without root, I think the only other reason would be for theming within CM10/MiUi roms. But even a lot of customization can be done already without rooting, so don’t think I would bother rooting anymore.
Root for overclock.
Root for custom DPI.
I root because I like to install custom ROMs. No, it’s not really required to do so in order to have the best features, but I actually enjoy just installing and trying out different developers’ takes on Android.
Root to remove pre-installed apps and install root required apps
“Going forward, I’m interested in building framework extensions and APIs into CM to continue to abolish the root requirement.” – Steve Kondik
The ‘root requirement’? You have to root to install CM anyway. Why spend any time finding work-a-rounds for root apps? I don’t see this going anywhere.
No you don’t. You have to unlock the boot loader, and that can usually be done via ADB. Cyanogen itself is then installed via the recovery.
What other devices, other than nexus ones, can you do this? On the Razr HD you must root to unlock the bootloader.
No you must unlock the bootloader in order to root. It’s the same with every device. First you bypass initial security (aka: locked bootloader), then you flash a custom recovery via fastboot or, in cases like Samsung, a proprietary flashing software like Odin or RDSLite. Then, usually, you use clockworkmod recovery to install root.
In all cases, you cannot access the system partition in order to insert su unless you’ve bypassed all prior security. So if the bootlaoder is locked, you cannot access the system partition until you break it. In other words, you always unlock the bootloader before you root ;)
What’s funny is that, like Damarkus13 said, you can actually flash a ROM without root access. Since you only need to bust the bootloader in order to install a custom recovery, you can install recovery then go straight to flashing a rom without ever rooting the stock rom. So yes, it is possible to get CM without ever rooting your phone ;)
ive had my One for a couple of months and when I was buying it my cousin said the first thing you want to do it root it. but I havent felt I needed to at this point. I bought it from HTC unlocked so I dont have any ATT stuff baked in. The only reason I would consider it if it takes ATT too long to give me 4.2. but outside of that I’m good with it for now.
Watch this. http://youtu.be/czTkHe7-lXw ;-)
Sounds like he’s an apologist for the carriers & NSA who want total control of your cellphone & they are going to make it illegal for you to root your cellphone in 2015.
Lol! Do you really not know who Steve Kondik is? He IS Cyanogen.
To clarify, THE Cyanogen in the word “CyanogenMod”
I like having the consistency of CM on all my Android devices. Add to that the ability to to remove Verizon’s bloatware and, I’ll always be rooting.
I have a Samsung SGH-S959G (Galaxy S II from Straight Talk), and my carrier keeps me back at Gingerbread. Rooting was my solution so that I could install a custom ROM (CM-10.1 Nightly, SGH-i777). I still continue to use root for GO Power Master, fixing my Carrier Name (It said AT&T rather than Straight Talk), and other conveniences. I also like to install Nightly updates if they solve a bug that I notice.
So I can still see much reason for having root permissions on a device. And even if solutions were brought forward to make root unnecessary for these purposes (can’t see it happening for custom ROMs or carrier name changing, boot logos, etc.), I would still root to eliminate the step later if I needed it.
In keeping with the original “why do you go about rooting your phone these days?” question. Without getting into the weeds, I think Jeff Smith simply said it best.
Root should be your right as the owner of your phone. At some point you will own your phone outright whether you buy it outright or subsidized. Hopefully the phone manufacturers will stop feeling the need to lock us out of our phones. I shouldn’t have to search possibly questionable websites to figure out how to root my device.
I use to root to keep my phone up to date, but now that I own an S4, I have no need. Also, I use to wifi tether, there are free apps that let you do that now, without root.
Everyone seems to be forgetting my favorite root use: Ad Blocking! I like supporting devs, but a lot of mobile versions of websites have floating banners. On my tiny kyocera rise, these banners eat up a third of the reading space of the content, which to me is unacceptable. Plus, ads have no regard for your data plan…delaying load times for everything over 3g. If root dies, so does my love of android.
Free WiFi tether. I don’t want to pay for something that should be free in the first place. I love custom roms like Paranoid Android.
this is not the end….android isnt ios…this is innovation…its taking a new step to envolve to something better….like the article said, android has developed into something much more than OS in our smartphone and it is still growing and innovating.
So this article’s argument is that, due to the improvement of each update of android, it’s getting less relevant to root? That’s fine and dandy IF you’re running said latest update.
My current device, GS2, won’t be getting the 4.3 update…. but if I root it, it will. Also, it took forever for it to get 4.2…. that’s why the majority of people root… to get the most recent update.
The main reason here (besides cyanogenmod on my nexus7) is for my primary phone…which is an OG EVO 4g. Yep…it rocks with Evervolv nightlies (JB 4.2.2), and without rooting, I’d be stuck with an aging device without access to several apps I actually need. Why stay with the evo? Because I’m not spending multiple hundreds of dollars for a phone when it (said EVO) works brilliantly…as a phone. :-) The nexus does the bling, tyvm! ($$$ mentioned for phone because I absolutely REFUSE to get tied into a carrier contract. “F”- that.)
“You’ll notice people didn’t say things like installing custom ROMs, improving performance, improving cell signal, etc. That’s because OEMs have actually eliminated these problems by giving us better hardware. Notice too how no one is clamoring to try the latest, bleeding edge features. That’s because Google and OEMs have already implemented all the best ones into the unrooted Android experience. Simply put, most of the important things we used rooting to obtain now come stock with most Android phones.”
A few issues w/ the quoted part:-
1. How/why activities such as “installing custom ROMs, improving performance, improving cell signal etc” are deemed as “problems”? Since the last 10 years out of my 20 at personal computing, if there’s anything I’m most afraid of out from a rapid tech progression as a fallout it’s this analogous situation “So who cares if that idiot can’t drive any faster? Just give him a more badass motor!”. Moore’s law aren’t parallel to shitty coding and sloppy end user practices.
2. “No one is clamoring to try the latest and bleeding edge features”. A gross simplification here enough said.
Put simply I’m rather appalled by the tone set by this piece. Root/admin level functions on a computing device to me is a matter of basic right regardless if you’re a basement dwelling Linux grump OR a luddite. It should be there when/where/how we need it w/o the need to justify a full set of use case for it.
“To make things quite clear, no one is suggesting that root simply go away.”
I don’t know about other people but I love flashing custom ROMS…
I buy the hardware, not license it. The hardware, that silicon plastic brick, is mine, to do as I please. Android is free, so no need to license it (google package aside). If I choose to root it and install another version, make my own, improve on it, etc, I have the right under the GNU (spelling?) public license for software. If I want to remove android from it to put unbuntu, I can (or anything else). What I cannot do is pirate (which does not require root anyway). Root allows more control over your device thank unrooted, and often more security. But, BIG BUT!, before one roots, one must know what it means, else one can ruins ones day.
Root is simply obtaining superuser (read: administrator) access over your own device. Nothing more, nothing less :)
90% of the rooting I do is on older phones that no longer see updates. It’s still the Wild West out there in terms of hardware interfaces. Android 4.3 is a great step forward but until we see PC-like standardization of interfaces rooting is going to be a must for people who don’t swap out phones every year.
I root for few reasons, to get rid of carrier bloatware, and to increase battery life and carrier snooping, as well as tethering. I pay for so much data a month, how I use it, or on which device is irrelevant to the carrier. You don’t sell gasoline and then tell the consumer whether it can run a car, a generator, a boat motor, what ever.
Root option should be a standard with all new phones, period, no if’s and’s or but’s.
Rooting will never go away because carriers block features like tethering, wifi hotspots, Google wallet, blocking apps from the Play Store, region locks, etc.
It’s always nice to have full control of your device. And as we all know, the manufacturers always keep their device performance lower than it actually can do. some say this is the safety reason. But, as for me, I need to have root access to overcome those barriers. I’m craving for overclocking, tweaking, modding my android device. because my smartphone is representative of what i am.
If I can’t root my Nexus, I’m going to back to my iPhone.
ummm okay…is android supposed to be scared? lol….
ps if you have a Nexus, rooting is simple, if you can’t figure it out, maybe you should use an iPhone :-)
push superuser files :-)
if you meant, if you can’t root future nexus devices, you would go back to an iPhone…well that would just be lame, and I’d never see google blocking root access on their devices.
Interesting! I stopped rooting and changing my ROMs the day I got Samsung Galaxy Note 2 for myself. Reason being my extensive use of S-Pen and S-Note application.
Google can talk about the idea of ending rooting and actually implement it, but it wont change a thing. The handsets will be rooted within a couple of weeks.
* Remove bloatware
* Backup apps (full backup, not the non-root fake backup)
* Replace the abilities that Google has removed (automated GPS/Airplane mode/etc toggling). Side effect: Greater battery life and more security.
* To install basic security features, sure as a firewall.
I Root all my nexus devices for all these reasons:
2) Stickmount – so I can have 32GB of read/writable external storage
3) Backups – can only backup angry birds (some games) and Bad Piggies data for restore after a factrory reset if I am rooted
4) Sixaxis wireless PS3 controller gameplay on my tablet
5) Change my capacitive buttons to something I prefer
6) to use LMT or GMD gesture contol apps
I root to have transparent status bar, for my nexus 7, also transparent navigation bar. I don’t have the new Samsung devices or the LG G2 that’s coming out soon, and other new devices that have transparent status bar right out of the box, so this is the main reason I root my phone and tablet. Once you are used to the transparent status bar, you can’t go back. Without it, the OS just looks super ugly. At least for me..
someone should tell him that CM is a rom.