Wednesday, 11 May 2016

11 Reasons Why You Should Root Your Android Smartphone Immediately

Android phones are known for their customizability and versatility when it comes to features. However, gaining root access opens up more possibilities and more settings to tinker with.

Image by mammela-686310 [CC0] via Wikimedia Commons

The average Android phone user does not even know what rooting can do to their phone. It can potentially speed up the tasks and even save some battery life with the help of a few tweaks that would be impossible to do otherwise on an un-rooted phone.

Rooting Allows Installation of More Apps

No, this does not mean that the user can exceed their file storage capacity. This simply means that a rooted phone will be able to install other kinds of apps that cannot really be installed without root access. Gaining root access is similar to gaining Administrator privileges on a Windows PC. All of the permissions will be given to the user and so it allows them to bypass certain security measures and checks in order to install an app. These apps and tweaks require root access because they tend to deal with deeper operating procedures with the system. They will need to modify some system files in order to do their job.

One such app that requires root access is WiFiKill. As the name suggests, it can kill the Wi-Fi connectivity of some users if they are connected to a network. The app can be useful for checking whether there are unwanted users on a private home network. They can just kill their access and also identify the MAC and IP address to determine which device is not supposed to be connected to the network. Other useful apps include WakeLock detectors that can determine which apps are causing the CPU to stay awake and drain the battery. It is useful for troubleshooting what's sucking all the juice out of the battery.

Rooting Allows Users to Uninstall Bloatware

Bloatware can be pretty annoying on a brand new Android smartphone. Most manufacturers pre-install their own brand of applications that could pose as useful but really are not. On an un-rooted phone, uninstalling the said bloatware apps is impossible. However, root access allows the user to uninstall and disable any app they please, according to Lifehacker.

Once root access is gained, the user can just simply uninstall or disable the app. This saves up on RAM allocation and storage space too. These kinds of apps can also drain the battery so uninstalling them is a wise decision if the user does not really need them. Besides, there are other lightweight alternative apps available on the Play Store.

Install Battery Checkers and App Hibernators

Rooting also allows access to some of the most useful apps on the Play Store that requires root access. One such app is the Battery Calibrator by NeMa. The app allows the user to calibrate the battery in order for it to discharge properly. Uncalibrated batteries tend to drain faster than the usual which can be troublesome for users. Greenify, one of the most popular hibernating apps, also requires root access. The app allows the user to hibernate apps that they do not really use on a regular basis.

Hibernating unused apps can lead to better battery life and more free RAM overall. For low-end phones, the app can be pretty useful to keep the performance of the phone in check and to avoid lags and slowdowns. Users can also underclock or overclock their CPU frequencies with certain apps that require root access. Doing so can improve performance or battery life whichever the user chooses.

There are also other apps that can do the same things with root access, but the two mentioned above are trusted by the Android community in general. Other useful apps can also be found on the Play Store just by adding "root" on the search strings.

Rooting Allows for Added Customizability

With a rooted Android smartphone, there are many more customizable options that will become available. Users can download popular customizable and tweaking apps such as Xposed and BusyBox. They all require root access because most of their tweaks rely on modifying system files on the phone. Some of their tweaks include changing the icons and colors on the status bar, changing LED notification colors (if the phone supports it) and many more.

There are also other apps that can just change one aspect of the phone's design. For instance, a rooted phone can change the default font and icons. Users can also choose to customize the booting animation if they are rooted. It requires the replacement of the system files so root access is essential.

Rooting Allows Users to Set Default System Apps

Since the root access allows the user to replace files on the hidden system files, users can then use that to their advantage and set system apps. In order to set an app to become part of the system, they need to copy the APK file and move it to the system apps folder. Doing so allows the phone to recognise that the app is part of the core system, and it might improve the performance and load times for some phones. It would also allow more access for the phone since it is now a system app.

System apps can't be installed either but they can be disabled. It's useful for when letting a friend borrow the Android smartphone to avoid accidental uninstallation of apps.

Rooting Allows Ad Blockers on the Phone

One of the most annoying things across all devices is distracting ads. They can come in the form of pictures or videos suddenly popping up on the entire screen. On desktop computers and laptops, ad blockers are widely-used applications. What most users do not know is that there are also ad blockers available on Android.

However, they require root access because they need to modify system files in order to block the incoming and outgoing traffic for the advertisements. It's not harmful and it allows the user to better enjoy their apps without having to accidentally tap on an ad. In addition, blocking ads can also save a bit of battery power. This is because the ads tend to connect to outside servers which drains battery.

Rooting Allows Better Backups

Backups can be a tricky thing in Android. Contacts can be automatically backed up to a certain Google account but the apps and data can be left behind. Users who tend to switch phones and ROMs usually need backups for all of their apps and data. Some apps need the data saved on the phone itself to keep the progress as they do not use cloud servers.

For instance, a game's progress could be deleted if the user does a factory reset without doing a backup. One app for doing backups of apps with data and other system apps too is Titanium Backup. The app requires root access to do the backups. Titanium Backup stores the backups on the microSD card or another storage location depending on the user. If the backups are on the microSD, it can be useful for those who need to wipe their internal storage clean. They can just download the app and restore the app and other system data so that they will be retained.

The backups are also useful for those who would like to try changing ROMs and Android versions. In order to install new versions and ROMs, the user needs to wipe the phone and its settings.

Rooting Allows Installation of Customised ROMs

The first step to installing customised ROMs on Android is to root the device first. This then allows the installation of custom recoveries that will be needed to flash the needed files. ROMs are perhaps the ultimate customizable option for Android smartphones. They may contain totally different user interfaces that will improve the look of the phone. Some ROMs are also focused on bringing improved performance for the phones. They contain several tweaks that are not readily available on the stock ROMs of un-rooted devices.

There are also ROMs that provide the famous UI skins from other phones such as the HTC Sense and Samsung's TouchWiz UI, according to PC Advisor. This means that users can experience using the UIs of other phones through customised ROMs without having to buy the expensive devices in the first place.

However, the amount and number of ROMs depends on how large the Android developing community of the phone is. For instance, a famous flagship phone would probably have more custom ROMs compared to a locally re-branded Android phone. In some cases, the ROMs are also left unfinished because there is insufficient support from other developers. Still, it can provide a refreshing experience for users with rooted devices.

Rooting Allows Installation of Custom Kernels

While custom ROMS already have custom kernels as well, they can be troublesome to install if the user does not want to be hassled. Custom kernels allow the user to bypass certain limits and to allow apps to communicate better with the hardware aspect of the phone. Some custom kernels allow the user to enable Wi-Fi tethering if the feature can't be found on the default settings. They can also allow for performance tweaks and better batter life. Flashing kernels is also much easier because the user does not need to wipe the phone in order to do so. They can also be uninstalled anytime if they have a kernel manager.

Rooting Allows Automation

Another useful app is Tasker, which allows the user to automate tasks with minimal supervision. The app does have features already available for non-rooted phones but the more powerful ones can only be accessed if the user has a rooted device. Users who are not on the latest versions of Android can choose to automatically set the phone to silent at a certain time of the night. Tasker can also automatically turn on the Wi-Fi when the phone detects that he or she is already home, according to Greenbot.

Some useful "tasks" that Tasker can do include:
  • Automatically translating text on the clipboard from English to another language or vice-versa. (requires third-party plugin). 
  • Automatically rotating the phone when a certain app is opened.
  • Playing a specific song or ring tone when a text received contains certain phrases.
  • Setup an emergency "scene" for when the phone is lost and someone finds it.
  • Set the display timeout to a longer duration when using a certain app.
  • Use the phone as a wireless remote with IR plugins.
  • Turn off autosync if no Wi-Fi s detected.
  • Automatically turn off Wi-Fi and GPS if battery percentage is below 50 percent.
  • Automatically disable wireless radios if they are open but no signal is reached.
  • Turn down brightness during a certain time period.
  • Automatically send a text message if a particular number calls and gets missed.
  • Turn off Wi-Fi when the phone is on the move.
  • Bring up Google Now cards regarding weather and events when alarm is turned off.
  • Automatically capture photo with front camera if someone else tries to open the lock with repeated wrong password attempts.
  • Turn smart TV or other wireless speaker to full volume when alarm is not closed within a certain time duration. 

There are many more Tasker tasks that can be done by the user with a little bit of imagination. These tasks can't really be done by the default un-rooted device without any of the plugins and root access.

Rooting for Other Features

Other features are also present when rooting is involved. Users can get new apps and install them even if they are deemed "incompatible" for the current Android version of the phone. Some apps like Undelete can also be useful if the user has accidentally deleted something off from the phone. Other apps can also bypass the carrier lock for some phones in order to access other app markets that are exclusive.

Should You Root Your Android Phone?

If you want to unlock the full potential of the Android system and to fully own your smartphone, rooting is the way to go. All of the functions and features mentioned above are not possible with the stock ROMs and kernels of an un-rooted device.

Author: Lord Marin