If you're hoping to root Google's Pixel phones, we've got some bad news

If you're hoping to root Google's Pixel phones, we've got some bad news
For a lot of people out there, the openness and freedom that the Android OS features is one of the most attractive aspects about the platform. Rooting a device allows the rooter to gain access to features they otherwise wouldn't have, and for those with the guts to mess around with their phones on this level, the benefits that come along with rooting can be truly phenomenal.

Google's Nexus smartphones have long been some of the most heavily supported Android handsets when it comes to rooting and custom ROMs. While these handsets have been the fastest to get official OTA updates to the Android OS, they've also proven to be handsets that get supported the fastest when it comes to custom ROMs and other root-related features. So, if you're someone who likes to dabble with this kind of stuff, you're probably anxiously awaiting the release of Google's new Pixel smartphones. While there's no doubt that these upcoming handsets look to be insanely promising, actually rooting them might prove to be one of the biggest challenges we've seen yet.

Before we get into that, we should make it clear that this isn't the first step Google's taken towards cracking down on rooted handsets. Google recently released an API to developers that allows them to prevent rooted or 'insecure' phones from being able to run their applications. We saw this most recently with the new update to Pokemon Go that prevents users from playing the game on rooted smartphones, and while this is definitely a huge inconvenience, it helps to ensure the overall legitimacy and safeness of the app.

If you're hoping to root Google's Pixel phones, we've got some bad news

In addition to this, we saw an update in Android 6.0 that made rooting devices with newer versions of the Android OS more difficult than ever. The update made it so that if you wanted to root your phone running 6.0 or later, you had to perform what's called a "systemless root". This essentially means that you have to root the phone without modifying or changing the device's system partition, and if you root your phone on 6.0 or later by modifying the partition, you'll get a pop up on your phone when you try to boot it that says your device is corrupt. Your phone will then be prevented from booting up successfully, and you'll be left with nothing more than a brick.

In order to overcome this issue, rooters have been modifying their device's ramdisk in order to get the same result as if they were modifying their system partition, but according to code commits that exist with both the ROM and kernel code for Android 7.0 Nougat, ramdisk is now being housed in the system partition.

While this doesn't mean that rooting is completely dead, it does mean that the ways we've been using to root Marshmallow handsets will no longer work on Google's Pixel smartphones. That's a real shame considering how past Nexus handsets have bee so popular among developers for this kind of thing, and it drives home the point even more than the Pixel line is going to be much different than the Nexus one.


While developers will always seek out and find new ways to root a device, it's quite apparent that Google is trying to limit folks from doing this as much as possible. It's a bit disappointing to see things like this pop up, as it takes away from that openness and freedom that Android's been known for for so long. While that spirit will always be there in some form, it's disappointing to see Google chip away at it bit by bit.

source: XDA via Phandroid

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52 Comments

1. zunaidahmed

Posts: 1182; Member since: Dec 24, 2011

The only difference between iOS and android I see right now, is that google allows other manufacturers to use it while Apple doesn't. They are getting closer and closer not only by the looks, but also functionality.

7. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Android will never be like iOS, even if rooting dies, because what I can do out-of-the-box on Android, is beyond what iOS can do with jailbreak.

9. Bm888

Posts: 517; Member since: Jul 06, 2015

but of course in a week's time after pixel release.. jailbreak/rooting will be announced success ..there are always hard head hackers out there...

17. Finalflash

Posts: 4049; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

There will always be ways to root Nexus/Pixel devices because they have unlockable bootloaders. You can always install a custom ROM that is rooted and even rooted AOSP roms without much hassle. This new anti-root system is for average consumers to help protect against exploits that gain root permissions without the user knowing. Also, the ever so secure iOS was jailbroken within weeks of release, so rooting Nougat with all the allowances Google has given the modding community should be no problem.

22. Nine1Sickness

Posts: 884; Member since: Jan 30, 2011

That's funny because Android was only successful because it was the first mobile OS to give its users a similar experience to what iOS was. It's even funnier how Android users happily forfeit their privacy to use an OS that keeps track of everything you do on it and automatically sets you up to use all of its services.

28. lyndon420

Posts: 6273; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

If we wanted an experience like iOS, we would have gone with iOS. If you think that apple doesn't know what you're doing with their devices you're in for a surprise lol. Apple has a way of keeping their users closely tied to apple services as well...even more so than Google does. Sorry...what was the point you were making again?

29. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

"It's even funnier how Android users happily forfeit their privacy to use an OS that keeps track of everything you do on it and automatically sets you up to use all of its services." So Apple doesn't automatically set you up to use their services, or don't you have to use Apple's services to use the iPhone? Are you telling me you can delete iTunes, the Appstore, Safari, iMessage, FaceTime, Apple maps, etc, etc, from your iPhone and use it as a standalone device unlike how Google forces you to use their services?

30. Podrick

Posts: 1280; Member since: Aug 19, 2015

You think Apple doesn't track its users a bit and gives full privacy to them? So what alternative you suggest for the lower income people of underdeveloped countries? Sell their kidneys to buy iphone?

44. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Wow, do you really think Apple doesn't know what you are doing? Guy were you born yesterday, & handed a mobile device also? That's got to be the most ridiculous comment I have ever seen posted on this site. PhoneArena.com we need the red thumb down button back...

53. solomonopoly

Posts: 1; Member since: May 12, 2017

Both Apply and Android devices obliterate all privacy. Jailreaking/Rooting allows you to fix that. Sooooo not really funny considering both have the same issue? Weirdo.

34. Leo_MC

Posts: 5885; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Actually Android can't do much more (and that more it can do is worthless to have on a phone).

38. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

May be for your case. But what give you the right to speak for the rest of us?

46. Leo_MC

Posts: 5885; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I have the same right to say what I have said as the one that posted that dumb message I replied to.

23. Nine1Sickness

Posts: 884; Member since: Jan 30, 2011

The difference is, Google knows its users more than the users know themselves.

32. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Every iOS user has to use Apple's embedded services while we can have android phone without Google services. We can remove every form of online services and just use side loading to get by. So its not true that Google would automatically knows more about us than Apple would on their iOS user. The information collected by Apple on their users allow them to strategize their product to maximum profits per iOS user. Apple has a pretty good idea the minimum amount, the average amount and maximum amount they could make from their user base. Could the same be said about Google on its multi vendors, custom ROMs enabled Android platform. Besides, if Android is no longer ideal for us we can just bring our data and move to another more viable platform.

35. Leo_MC

Posts: 5885; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Android name is related exclusively to Google's OS with Google's services embedded; an Android based OS, without Google's services can no longer be called Android (see amazon's Fire OS, for instance).

37. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

None of the Android phone sold in China uses Google services, in fact its ban by the Chinese government. What do China users call their Android phone, they call it 安卓系统. Mean Android phone. Google can like to call their services as Android but the rest of the world don't have to follow, however Mainland Chinese users still need to use Apple provided services instead of Chinese home brew equivalent. This is why Apple walk a fine line with the Chinese government. If they piss off the wrong parties their services would be shut down like the rest. Apple would bend over backwards to meet the demand of China. So much for your US pride.

47. Leo_MC

Posts: 5885; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I have seen "iPhones", that had nothing to do with Apple's products, being sold in China as iPhones; that is a scam the same way as calling an Android phone without Google's services is a scam. Just because a fked up country like China, where there's no rule of law, there is no respect for human rights and people accept a fked up form of government doesn't punishes it's thieves it doesn't mean theft is ok. PS: I'm not an us citizen.

52. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

"...that is a scam the same way as calling an Android phone without Google's services is a scam." Wrong again. Android can be Android without Google's services. Google's Android is simply the most well known version of Android. And the reason other don't use the Android name is to avoid confusion. You're comparing something is a scam (companies using the iPhone name to sell knockoffs) vs something that isn't a scam (companies using Android Open Source Project, aka AOSP, to power their phones with or without Google services).

50. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

That's not in any way correct. The completely open source version is called AOSP. Care to guess what the A stands for? It's Android Open Source Project. Android is Android, plain and simple. Both Amazon and Microsoft renamed their version of Android because they didn't want it confused with Google's version of Android, not because they legally had to. Otherwise they wouldn't call it the Android Open Source Project if legally it couldn't be called Android. Both Amazon's Fire OS and Microsoft's version of Android use completely different app stores for one thing, and they did so for two reasons. First with the numerous changes they made, they wouldn't be eligible to have access to the Playstore (supplanting all of Google's services with their own). Second, they want people locked into their ecosystem.

33. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

So the only different between you, Nine1Sickness and me is our mindset. You believe that after pass a large chunk of cash to Apple, apple would look out for your interest. Think again, there is no limit to greed, cooperate greed in this instance. The only person that could look out for your interest is you.

2. joevsyou

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

step one make it open step two get everyone on board step 3 gain control of the masses step 4 lock it down step 5 control the world

10. zacsaturday

Posts: 262; Member since: May 09, 2014

Manufacturers could modify the software to allow rooting, so it's still open, But I think it then won't pass the tests Google give to allow GApps (especially Play Store) on their devices

3. Doakie

Posts: 2443; Member since: May 06, 2009

Nexus is dead. Long live OnePlus.

8. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Nexus might be dead, but Custom ROMs never die.

4. yUlek

Posts: 57; Member since: May 14, 2014

What is this? What, what is this? For what, why?

5. joe.m

Posts: 8; Member since: Sep 17, 2016

That's what we'd like to know.

18. Finalflash

Posts: 4049; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

It is to protect the average consumer from root gaining malware and exploits while also ensuring developers that they have an easy way to detect rooters to limit cheating and such. People who want to root can always use custom ROMs and rooted AOSP ROMs easily.

6. IAMBLCKJ3ZUS

Posts: 395; Member since: Sep 29, 2015

I think I get why Google is doing this. Just think the one thing people complain about are updates and other crap, si what if they are trying to kind of lock down some things to provide smoother Android experience? Just a guess.

13. minhajmsd

Posts: 24; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

Custom ROMs typically retain most of the stock features and are updated more frequently, especially on Nexus/Pixel phones.

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