We’ve heard talks of future Android versions not being too friendly to root users, but so far, workarounds have been found. The changes seen in AOSP could be avoided with an update to root apps. But the latest changes to AOSP that have been spotted could be a lot more drastic, if implemented.
The newest commits aim to improve security in Android, but at the cost of freedom when rooting. These commits will effectively block all write access to /system when in Android, meaning even root apps won’t be able to access the partition. Modifying files in /system has long been a staple in UI customization, so this would be a significant change to those who love to root stock ROMs.
Luckily, it’s not all bad. /system can still be modified from recovery, so many of these root apps can be updated to reboot your device and perform these changes via scripts. However, some apps will simply have to be redone. Also, custom kernels will bring this functionality back, so Android won’t be any less friendly to the developer community. Only stock ROMs will be affected.
The issue is that many recoveries don’t support this function, so users will have to be running a fairly new recovery. Considering how rarely people actually update the recovery, this may cause issues for users. While it’s not hard to update the recovery, many users will end up blaming root app developers.
We know a lot of people love to root the stock ROM and use that, but with these changes, that will no longer be possible. However, a quick flash of a kernel through recovery will alleviate all these problems. It’s one extra step, but it isn’t a very difficult one. Unless of course you have a device that doesn’t allow custom kernels.
While this news isn’t really all that bad, this might just be the beginning. Google is obviously on a quest to make Android as secure as possible, which is great, but we hope that it won’t make things too tough for root users. Google, you need to remember us phone modders and make sure we can still do what we want with Android devices.