Last week, we saw Google deliver an update to Wallet that fixed a few bugs and improved the app’s address handling. It all sounded fine, and quite innocuous, but today we’re learning that there was a little more to the update than what Google revealed in its changelog, with the introduction of a test for rooted phones and the display of a new warning message against the practice.
Trying to run the latest Wallet on a phone like the Verizon Galaxy Nexus, after rooting the phone to install app, will now display a warning bar at the top the screen. Clicking-through brings up a policy indemnifying Google from any support issues that may arise out of such unauthorized use, as well as strongly warning users against rooting.
Rooting has been a bit of a contentious issue in some circles, and now Google is using Wallet to really put users in a difficult spot. On one hand, Google’s had to deal with security issues in Wallet that only become problematic when you have root access, so there is some legitimacy to its interest in keeping Wallet off rooted phones. On the other hand, there’s no good reason why owners of the Galaxy Nexus on Verizon should have to modify their phones in the first place to access the app, and a large part of that blame falls on Google for not offering it for easy installation.
What we don’t know yet is if Google is serious about not supporting rooted devices to the point that we’ll see broken functionality, or if this action is more like a move to protect its legal interests with some new disclaimers.