Monthly Archives: December 2011

Getting Around Android Root

Since the HTC Hero, I’ve been rooting my phone for the added benefits of programs that frankly, SHOULD be on your device. The main one being wireless tethering. I know. That’s how the networks make their money. By policing your data usage. But I’m on an unlimited data plan. I get it. Unlimited as long as you use the slow 3G or intermittent 4G network to do your browsing and downloading. Otherwise, buy the 4G hub that seems to find the network better than my phone. I smell shenanigans. For now, lets take tethering off the table. What are the other benefits of rooting?

I’ll set the stage. I have the new Galaxy S II (AKA The Epic 4G touch), unlimited data plan, and live in a 4G rich coverage area (or so they say.) As a mobile app designer, I have two main needs: 1) ADB into my device and 2) Take screenshots. Both of these methods, at one time, required a rooted device (for clarification, I wanted to WIRELESSLY ADB into my device because the USB port notoriously sucks.) WHY?? ADB is a legitimate tool that allows you to develop for your mobile device. Granted, it gets you under the hood, but ADB allowed me access to DDMS, the screenshot tool that DIDN’T require root access…just an ADB connection.

So I had acquired my root access, as I do. But Samsung and/or Sprint insisted on pushing me an OTA (Over The Air) update to my device (this is where they update your operating system.) Great!

Problem. With the rooted phone, the OTA was failing. I wanted that update! Logically, I went to the Security tab to reset my phone to the factory settings.

More problems.

Didn’t work. In fact, I couldn’t get it to boot back up! Did I brick it? Nope. I could see the rooted startup screen. Just no rooted OS. Crap. After a brief panic attack, I gathered my senses and USB’d into the device to drop a rooted custom ROM. THAT, at least, would get me back in the game to do some other fixings. Just my luck, the only ROM that was reported to be completed for the 4G Touch sucked. Not even feature complete. SIDE NOTE: Why even put that out there?!??

Next up on the list: Download the stock ROM and put it back. OK.

Yet ANOTHER problem.

Now my USB mount wasn’t working. CRAP! Now I’m basically locked out of my device with a crappy ROM that won’t even let me make phone calls to my provider. Yummy. Time to go to the store and make up some excuse about how my “developers” tried to “help” me out and then “jacked up” my phone. I’m sheepish like that.

As they suspected, I had rooted my phone. Score 1: Provider.

I said, “Just flash the stock ROM on there and I’ll be fine.”

“That’d be great, but uh…we can’t. We’re getting a Critical Error on your device.”

Imagine, at this point, the price tag signs of a new phone I’d soon be paying as a result of my terrible hacking. The sweat began to pour from my head. What was I going to tell the misses? “Nope, Christmas presents are a no go this year.”

“Yeah, we can’t do anything with that device, so we’re just going to replace it.”




<inner rejoicing>

“Oh. Great! I really appreciate it,” I say calmly.

<inner fainting and self-resuscitation>

So I’m back to square one…thankfully. But how do I get around that pesky root issue? You guessed it. Thankfully, there are some apps out there (and I SWEAR they weren’t available before) that can do most of what I need.

The ADB problem. OK. For now, I’m going to have to stick with USB. Done. The Epic 4G Touch USB connection is better than the Epic 4G. But I don’t always have access to USB when I’m trying to take screenshots for dev purposes.

The screen capture problem. If you do an Android market search for screen capture, you’ll find that a majority of the apps require root access. WHY?? It’s a friggin’ SCREEN CAPTURE! iPhone does it out of the box. Really, Android?? Thanks to these guys, I’m good to go:


Screen Capture Shortcut Free

NOTE :This app became totally useless after the next OTA update. Nice, Clark. REAL Nice.

In the end, it took a little digging, but the apps you need are coming around. I still may root my new device for the Wireless ADB access…and to be honest…the Wireless Tethering, but take it from a seasoned rooter who, until now has never had ANY problems, you do NOT want to jack up your device with other ROMs or attempt a factory reset on a rooted device that will simply spit back in your face and say, “Really?” Especially when you’re out of warranty!