Whilst all the attention recently (and rightly so) has been on the spectacular success of the BlackBerry Passportneatly juxtaposed with the utter disaster that is the iPhone 6 and iOS8 (full ramifications not yet revealed) Androidians have been waiting for their own joy of joys, the utterly amazing upgrade that is Lollipop.
So, I went hunting as to what this upgrade was going to bring to our Androidian friends and found some old stuff dressed up as new PLUS a rather naughty little secret that Androidians themselves will, I promise you, tell you CANNOT happen. But it will, and you’ll soon see why…
Here at UTB we’ve been saying for some time that one of the beauties of QNX is that it has allowed BlackBerry to be more nimble in comparison to the other OS’s out there and this has been borne out by updates that have come thick and fast. Meanwhile, iOS8 and Android get updated once a year, if you are lucky and we are beginning to see how far ahead 10.2.1 and 10.3 are already.
In the case of Android, 2014’s effort, Lollipop, comes with lots of great enhancements, apparently, so I’ve looked around the interwebs and found lots of people reporting the same things, essentially. And here’s the goodness:
New Home Button: Yes, the home button will remain only it will now be a circle! Fancy that! Now you have a different looking clunky thing to hit to get around.
Android Beam: This is the amazing ability to share any file via NFC. It was available before, it just wasn’t called BEAM! And not every Android phone had it. Or they might have done, but it didn’t seem to work properly. Now, thanks to KnowYourMobile.com we know the full gorgeousness in hand:
Previously, Beam sharing needed to be initiated by tapping two devices together, which then prompts the user to tap the screen to send. This was kind of cumbersome, but the new way lets you initiate sharing in a far more intuitive and useful manner –– although you still have to bump devices to initiate the send.
New Design: Oh, it’s gonna look good! 3D shadows, flying cards and stuff tumbling everywhere. In fact, according to Android Central, Google really pushed the boat out and dragged the old, tired OS into the 9th Century:
The new Android is flatter, more colorful and multi-layered, with new visual flourishes to respond to your touch. Android design boss Matias Duarte says Google took inspiration from paper and ink in its new design language.
Project Volta: This baby is as powerful as it’s name suggests. Just like the human body, when your Android phone hits a certain battery percentage it will begin to close down program by program automatically. Probably starting with the arms and legs. Either way, it’s an impressive way to give a big beefy name to extending battery life by making the device steadily LESS usable until it finally dies.
Notifications: This is AMAZING! Get this… you’re REALLY going to wish your BlackBerry did this… Ready? You can view your notifications on your lock screen! But wait, it gets better… if you press on them,
you can double-tap on one to launch the related app
Or, even better;
Heads-up notifications can pop over a portion of the screen to let you know what’s going on without interrupting the app you’re currently using
Oh, what’s that? You’ve been able to do that for ages? Oh.
There’s other stuff, kill switch, bluetooth, wearables, Android TV but none of it really zooms past 10.3. So, where’s this naughty secret, I hear you scream?
Well, Google know that as far as the consumer market is concerned Android is toast. It’s got as high a market share as it will ever really get and the only way is down in the long run. Even at these figures, the Android OEM’s like Samsung, HTC and Sony can’t make any money from their phone divisions, so, what to do? Head for the Enterprise market. And to do that you’ll need to rectify something that Android is incredibly BAD at – security.
So, whilst Knox has been dragged in from Samsung (who were fed up of it anyway) encryption is being introduced. And something else that will have rather interesting consequences.
Talk to any hard core Androidian and their answer to pretty much anything (apart from the appalling lag on their phone) will be that they can pick and choose what they want. That they have the antithesis of the iPhone or a BlackBerry. That they are free.
That they can ROOT.
But for how long? Let’s see what XDA Developers think:
Android L Is For Lockdown
Root is, without a doubt, the (un)holy grail of the Android world. Those wonderful permissions that allow you as the user to pretty much do as you please with your device are certainly a major delight, and really one of the top reasons why Android devices have gained as much popularity as they have–not just among end users but among developers as well. There is yet another aspect of the OS that keeps people coming back for more, and that is the fresh, constant stream of updates and new OS versions. However, these two can hardly coexist with one another. Normally, whenever a new update for … well… anything comes out, it does so with features, bug fixes, and plugged holes. The latter are the ones that are normally required to obtain things such as root level access on our devices. This means that if you update, for the most part, you can kiss root goodbye. Granted, there are apps that will help root survive even an OTA upgrade but still companies making these OS and devices always are on the look out to ensure that the holes and exploits are plugged.
The latest and greatest installment of our beloved Android OS is Lollipop (Android 5), which is something that has been on pretty much everyone’s mouth in the tech world for the last week or so as it became available in the latest and most functional Developer Preview. The latest Lollipop installment is build version LPX13D, and aside from being one step closer to the final release, this one also brings the kiss of death for root, which pretty much is the case with all updates as we mentioned earlier. No biggie, right? We simply root again and be done with it, right? Or we simply use a root survival app and we keep going, right?? Nah, not exactly. There are several changes in device security, prompted in part by people and companies seeking the security and sanctuary of their precious data and nude pics. So, with that in mind, Google came to the rescue.
XDA Senior Recognized Developer and Senior Moderator Chainfire has been warning us of all the upcoming changes in the Android world for quite some time now, especially since the newer Jelly Bean and KitKat updates hit the shelves. Well, so far, we can officially say that he has been dead on target on everything he has said regarding the increased security on new versions of Android. The newest Lollipop update, LPX13D, seems to break root, like most updates do. However, it seems to do more than just break it because with the correct combination of factors, a device can become unrootable. Chainfire goes on to explain that the reason why root gets “broken” is mainly because the script required to grant root is no longer allowed to run at boot time from init.d, but rather it is forced to run from a SELinux dedicated context instead. This, apparently, is a new requirement for all apps and services running at boot.
The solution that Chainfire provides is to enable root at kernel level. In other words, you need a custom kernel in order to obtain root. However, many times, you need root in order to flash a custom kernel. Fine, some of you might say that by flashing via custom recovery, that the kernel can be flashed with ease. What if the bootloader is locked? Better yet, what if the bootloader cannot be unlocked? Yup, you got yourself a stock device forever (or until someone gets past the security measures). Essentially, Google is giving manufacturers a golden opportunity to put root access to rest for good. They will not do it to their devices, as the Nexus line has an unlockable bootloader, but no one can guarantee the case will be the same for other manufacturers.
The question then becomes, would the OEMs be willing to close off the devices for good, particularly considering that a large chunk of the sales come from word of mouth? Once Lollipop starts rolling out in its final form, it will be mighty interesting to see which OEMs go in what direction. One thing is for sure, these are trying times for people who enjoy their devices because of the freedom they have with root level access. Once you face the crossroad, which direction will you take?
You can see the attraction for those manufacturers who can’t make money at present if the phone is now locked down to the Samsung way of doing things, for example. Much easier to control. And, truth is, the average Joe doesn’t root anyway – they’ll get whatever they are pretty much told to.
For our rooters, their day is done.
Meanwhile, BlackBerry innovates whilst Google and Apple puff and pant their way up to BlackBerry OS 10.2.1, never mind 10.3. And by next year that gap will be so wide it’ll be a chasm.
Maybe the question should be that once you face the crossroads, isn’t it time you came #BackToBlack?
You’ll be glad you did.