When I bought my Nexus One, it came to me already rooted by the previous owner. Admittedly, this was kind of cheating, but I would have rooted it anyways, so I don’t think it really matters. In any case, I had often wondered why I would want my phone rooted, and what things it would let me do, especially coming at this from the perspective of a newcomer to the Android platform in general.
Of course, the boilerplate line is that rooting lets you do whatever you want to and with your phone. However, to a normal user, that explanation doesn’t really answer anything – we don’t know what we’d like to do with our phones yet, thus, the idea of rooting doesn’t really explain the benefits at all. So, here are five great reasons you may want to root your Android-powered smartphone:
1. Screenshots – if you’re a blogger, or just a geek, you probably like to share screenshots of your phone. This can be useful for an app review, or if you’re on the forums, you can share your setup with others on threads like this one. Either way, there are a few free applications on the Android app market, such as ShootMe, but you’ll need to have root access to use them.
2. Backup – one of the best discoveries I’ve made on my Nexus One is nandroid. Nandroid is a backup/restore process similar to taking an image of a Windows computer. You can create a nandroid backup anytime you want, and it saves everything about your phone – widget setups, 3rd party apps, settings – you name it. I try to make a nandroid backup of my phone once a week – if anything were to happen and I had to hard reset, I’d be all set. Of course, nandroid backups are a standard experience if you’re going to experiment with custom ROMs, too.
3. A2SD – with Android v2.2 (codenamed Froyo), Google introduced the option to store your apps on your SD card – freeing up internal phone memory for other things (or just more apps). Unfortunately, with Google’s implementation, it’s up to the developer to enable SD card installation – not fun. With the community-built A2SD option, you simply create a partition on your SD card (it’s a pretty simple process) and then run a script to enable you to store *any* app on the SD card. You can even move your dalvik-cache to the SD card, giving you plenty of room on your phone’s internal memory for other stuff.
4. Extra features – some applications have extra features that require root access to function. For example, with Extended Controls, which I showed you a few days ago, you could have an option to reboot your phone with just one click, instead of the click, hold, tap to choose, tap to confirm nonsense that you normally have with Android.
5. Alter system files – this one might be a bit niche, but on the Nexus One, the camera sound is unbelievably loud, and there’s no option in the camera app to disable it. Of course, you can turn it off if you turn your ringer volume down (after opening the camera app), but that’s a hassle. With root access, you can use an advanced file browser like Root Explorer to simply navigate to the appropriate system folder and disable the sound (I just renamed ‘camera_notification.ogg’ to ‘camera_notification.bak’). Obviously, you should be careful when messing around with system files, but it’s nice to know you have the option.
Of course, another great reason to root your phone is the option and freedom that custom ROMs give you. However, that’s a more advanced step, which is why I wanted to give a few reasons, aside from custom ROMs, to root your phone. There are plenty of walkthroughs on how to root various Android devices – you could head over to the device-specific XDA subforum, or you could simply search Google for ‘how to root [insert your phone model here]’ to get some walkthrough guides.
Have you already rooted your Android phone? Have you found something useful that’s not on this list?