On this edition of the Friday Debate, we discuss what some, out of lack of a better term, call hacking Android devices. Rooting, flashing custom ROMS, and beyond. Most Android devices are supremely hackable, and that’s one of the reasons why so many people love Android. On the other hand, we Android geeks tend to forget than not everyone has the skills, knowhow, time, or interest to root a device, flash the latest nightly, or switch ROMs just for the sake of it. For most people, stock is, gasp, just fine. How about you?
Join us in the discussion, vote in our poll, and sound off in the comments!
I don’t root, and I don’t flash custom ROMs. I find that the stock experience is enough for me — I don’t need the additions and extra control custom ROMs give me, and if I’m looking for a new look and a bit more functionality, launchers that I can get from the Play Store work just fine.
I guess I just don’t see a reason to root or flash, however, I do respect people who do. The development community has made great progress with stuff like Cyanogenmod and Paranoid Android. It’s definitely a vital part of Android, but it’s not for me.
I’m a big fan of rooting and custom ROMs, I’ve been flashing my Android handsets since my very first Xperia smartphone.
The primary reason that I began installing custom ROMs was to speed up the updating process. Both of my previous Sony and Samsung handsets were waiting months for updates to Gingerbread, ICS, and then Jelly Bean, and by the time these updates finally landed they were already out of date.
CyanogenMod, Paranoid Android, and most other custom built ROMs, are updated to the latest versions of Android much faster than official updates, and appear on a much wider range of handsets too.
But even if your smartphone is updated regularly, there are plenty of other good reasons to root and flash ROMs. Some include additional features, such as Paranoid Android’s Halo, above and beyond the software made available by handset developers. On the other hand, rooting and ROMs mean that you can be rid of the unnecessary bloat ware stuffed onto most handsets.
Overall, my experience with custom ROMs has been a positive one, and have vastly improved the functionality of my aging handsets. Once you can make it past the apprehension of messing around with your handset’s inner workings, I doubt that many people look back to stock ROMs.
The most common reason for rooting & ROMming is updates. When you’re locked in a two year contract, your up to date Android 4.0 ICS device can suddenly turn into old news.
Another reason is that the software has obvious issues (i.e. both TouchWiz Nature UI’s and every HTC Sense before Sense 5), or maybe people just want to get rid of the 8GB of bloat on their 16GB smartphone. While some geeks simply want to try something new.
I don’t flash many custom ROMs these days, but I still enjoy flashing the new PA or CyanogenMod for a week or so. My personal favourite is Paranoid Android for the simple reason of Halo. It’s an incredible and innovative feature, which has moved to other Custom ROMs as well.
With a Custom ROM you gain more control over the device that _you_ own. A manufacturer shouldn’t be able to tell you how your device works. I believe that the developer community is one of the most beautiful things in the Android ecosystem. It’s one of those things that makes Android what it is today — a thriving ecosystem full of innovative ideas from everyone — not just a group of people.
Sure Custom ROMs aren’t for everyone. If you are an early adopter like me, there are bound to me loads of issues and a businessman or a mother can’t wait for the camera app to start working. But if you’ve got a bit of free time, and more importantly, you’re willing to try new things a custom ROM might be for you (perhaps dust off that old smartphone withering away in your drawer).
Do you “hack” your Android devices?
Join us in the comments and vote in our poll.