Back in January, noted Android dev Chainfire raised some warning flags about changes Google was making to Android sources that threatened to disrupt the way root access works. While the changes seemed intended to help beef-up Android security, the side effect was that we needed a new superuser app, and that some apps taking advantage of root needed to be re-tooled. Over the weekend, Chainfire has posted an update, talking further about the ongoing efforts in the AOSP to enhance app security and the effect this all has on root.
In what he describes as a consequence of moving to “SELinux on steroids,” complex new techniques are needed for root apps to engage in context switching, threatening to make things “break in new and exciting ways.” Chainfire has already updated SuperSU in anticipation of these AOSP commits making their way to the next Android platform release (whether that’s 4.4.3, 4.5, or something else altogether) but individual devs will need to check and make sure that their root-needing apps follow the new way of doing things.
Further problems are expected by the switch from Dalvik to ART as the default runtime. The combination of ART and SELinux has the potential to crash phones hard, so devs are going to have to be careful as they start testing apps with ART.
None of this means much for you, the end user, but don’t be surprised if you see new versions of your favorite root-needing apps start arriving as we approach the next Android release.