By Stephen Schenck | May 26, 2011 2:08 AM
Are the days of rooting numbered? With how easy apps like Gingerbreak have made it, more and more users are likely rooting their Android smartphones “just because”. Many may not end up making heavy use of the escalated permissions rooting affords, but either just like the idea of it, or want their phones to be ready for whenever they do need to take advantage it. Now, though, there’s a new breed of apps that refuses to play nicely with rooted devices. First we saw Google’s new movie rental service turn out to be incompatible with rooted phones. Hot on its tail, Blockbuster is joining-in on the no-root-allowed club.
The Blockbuster app that ships with the Droid Charge checks if it’s running on a rooted phone, displaying a warning that a “tamper” has been detected, and informing the user that it refuses to retrieve or display any videos featuring the licensed Widevine encryption. We’ve just got to take some offense to the description of rooting one’s own phone as “tampering” with it, as doing so is hardly interfering with normal phone operations in a harmful way. If anything, it’s this overly restrictive DRM that’s tampering with your enjoyment of your Android.
Yes, we understand that these restrictions are likely out of the hands of the Googles and Blockbusters of this world, mandated by the rights-holders of the media they’re providing; no one’s forcing them to sign those agreements, though. If this trend continues, will we end up seeing an arms race between app developers and the hackers trying to sidestep their protections? If it comes down to it, what would you choose: freedom to tinker with your smartphone, or being able to stream movies to it?