We recently reported that the Galaxy Nexus has been rooted — and it hasn’t even been released yet! One astute Pocketnow reader commented “… it is a going to be a plain vanilla ICS, I won’t have a need to root!”
This brings up a question many of you may be asking: why would you want to root your phone?
First, “rooting” your phone is nothing more than enabling the use of “superuser” permissions on your phone. Once you have “superuser” (or “su”) access, you can do all sorts of things to your phone. You can edit files that would otherwise be “read only”, you can replace them, you can edit or update them. Lot’s of cool stuff. But how can you put that new power to use?
The recovery image is the little nugget of code that lets you install updates. An update might have been delivered over-the-air, or maybe you had to download it and place it on the root of your sdcard. After you reboot, it’s “magically” installed by your recovery image. But there is so much more that you can do at that low level, if you have the right permissions.
Most recovery images have a “signature verification” routine built in, which makes it almost impossible to flash a new ROM that hasn’t been distributed through official channels. If you can get root access, you can replace that recovery image with one that lets you install other ROMs (custom ROMs, leaked ROMs, etc.), and many more things. My recovery image lets me partition and format sdcards, run backups and restores of my entire system (apps, settings, configurations), install whatever ROM I want, and much, much more.
This is the holy grail, and the main objective of rooting your phone. You can run any ROM you want on it. We’ll leave it at that for now.
Some apps require root permissions to work. Capturing screen grabs, turning on your camera LED on and off so you can use your phone as a flashlight, low-level remote-wiping and phone location tools, and so many more power-user type tools require root to work. With updated APIs in newer versions of Android, root is becoming less necessary for these types of functions, but there are still many thing you can’t do unless you have root.
Overclocking is nothing new to desktop pc users: running your CPU faster than it defaults to so your computer runs faster. You can do the same thing with a rooted Android and the right setup. Sure it might gobble your battery quicker, but hey, speed ain’t free, right?
This benefit dovetails nicely with the previous one: making your CPU run slower, or with less power. This might sound absurd, but if you’re more interested in battery life than break-neck speed, slowing your CPU down can extend your run-time and give you the juice you need to keep your phone running longer.
Running “Forbidden” Apps
If your carrier has locked down your phone and won’t let you install apps that you want, rooting your phone can get you around that limitation. Freedom!
Speaking of carrier apps, why do some prohibit you from side-loading your own apps, yet fill up your phone with their bloated apps that you can’t remove? You want to get rid of them, root your phone!
Of course there’s a lot more you can do once your phone is rooted, now it’s your turn! Tell us what you can do with your phone after you rooted it.