There are two words you never want to see with anything: delayed indefinitely. Yet that’s what we recently saw with Froyo on the Epic 4G. It appeared that we were so close to a release — there was even a version leaked on the web. Alas, we’re back to square on, where Samsung promises the release in the vaguely near future. All the while, we’re going to start seeing Android 2.3 hitting a number of devices soon enough. This doesn’t seem fair to Galaxy S users. I can imagine a Galaxy S user’s frustration. They have one of these brand new phones — which have sold 10 million units in around seven months — but they’re still stuck with an operating system that is now two versions behind the latests. True, there will be some users who are perfectly content with Android 2.1. But for those who expect the best software to come with their new handsets, the frustration must be palpable. This is why I’ve come to favor rooting devices. We pay for these devices. This is not in the mold of AT&T in the mid-20th century; we are not leased these handsets by the carrier. I can understand, to an extent, why carriers and manufacturers want you using their software. They have interests to protect, just as we all do. But when protecting those interests means delivering a less than optimal experience to paying customers, I tend to draw the line. One answer is to just root the device already. Of course, manufacturers and carriers try to make this as unattractive as possible. They no longer honor warranty, and they warn that your security is compromised. I’m glad that Nick Kralevich at the Android Developers blog knocked a big hole in the security argument. At the same time, he championed the case for rooting.
Unfortunately, until carriers and manufacturers provide an easy method to legitimately unlock devices, there will be a natural tension between the rooting and security communities. We can only hope that carriers and manufacturers will recognize this, and not force users to choose between device openness and security. It’s possible to design unlocking techniques that protect the integrity of the mobile network, the rights of content providers, and the rights of application developers, while at the same time giving users choice. Users should demand no less.
Rooting would provide Galaxy S users with options for custom ROMs that can outperform their current 2.1 builds. It allows them to take better advantage of a device that boasts some of the best hardware in the biz. It all boils down to control — control of the devices that we buy and that we use every day. If I’m frustrated because Samsung and Sprint can’t get out an update for my Epic, I want to root it and take control myself. There are clear obstacles here, but it’s nothing that a few dedicated users can’t overcome. When we buy the best devices, we expect the best experiences. I appreciate what Samsung has provided, but if I were a Galaxy S owner I’d have rooted already. The delays have become too much.