Over the last few days we’ve gone over what it means to root your Android and some pros and cons of rooting. Today we’ll continue keeping it simple by discussing what you can do once you root your device. By now you know what it means when someone says they’ve rooted their Android, and you’ve seen some pros and cons to doing it yourself. That’s all fine and good, but we’ve left alone the topic of what you can actually do with your device once you root. Obviously there are a number of benefits, and we kind of hinted at them in the pros and cons list. But today we’ll have a few more items. As with yesterday, participation will make this list more robust. On yesterday’s article, commenter jaamgans brought up perhaps the greatest thing you can do with a rooted Android: install an OS more up-to-date than is officially available for your handset. He uses a great example. The G1 — the original Android handset — was officially stuck on Android 1.6. No matter how bad you wanted 2.1, it was out of the question. Google/T-Mobile/HTC wouldn’t deliver you the update. But with a rooted handset you could have installed Cyanogenmod, which is a custom ROM*, that would have basically given you Android 2.1. Custom ROMs are easily the biggest advantage of rooting your device. * A ROM is basically a modified version of the Android operating system. It replaces whatever version you have and provides various features. Some of them focus on making the device run smoother, while others bring new features — even features available in future Android builds, but not currently available. This is particularly notable when it comes to 2.2 updates. The majority of Android handsets do have Android 2.2, but there are still some that lag behind. If there is a version of Cyanogenmod for your handset, you can root and then flash that ROM, which will give you 2.2 capabilities. This includes features such as WiFi tethering and hotspot, and partially moving apps to the SD card. A year ago, before 2.2 was widespread, these were major reasons that people rooted. Unfortunately, given how many handsets are stuck on 2.1, it still is. Cyanogenmod is also now releasing 2.3 builds, which is also awesome. I’m running that right now. What I found surprising is that you can improve your Android’s signal strength. Intuitively, this sounds like a hardware issue, but there are definitely software fixes that can provide you with better coverage. You can flash — i.e., install — a new radio on your device and experience a stronger signal in places where you’re currently weak. I saw this first hand. Previously I couldn’t get more than an EDGE connection in my apartment, but after I flashed a new radio I consistently get three to four bars of HSPA. This is also nice in places like my gym, which is in a basement. The signal is just a bit stronger down there now that I’ve flashed a new radio. Ever get frustrated that your device runs too slowly? If you root you can overclock your device. There are definite disadvantages to this, including your phone running incredibly hot (which is not good for those who stow the phone in their pockets) and draining battery at an abnormal rate. But if you want the speed, the option is there. Conversely, if you think your phone runs just fine you can slow it down a bit in order to gain battery life. While there are apps that will back up your Android, none of them is quite as comprehensive as Titanium Backup. Of course, you’ll need a rooted handset to run Titanium. Once you do, you might feel more comfortable playing around with your rooted device. After all, you know Titanium is there with all of your information, ready to restore if you screw up. (Though not if you screw up to the point of bricking your phone, of course.) There are plenty of other root-only apps, too, including apps that allow you to take screen shots of your device. People have expressed love for apps such as QUick Boot, which allow quick restarts and reboots into recovery. The Market is absolutely rife with root-only apps. Check out a list in the market. These clearly aren’t the only benefits of rooting your phone. Each person will have different reasons. I love customizing things, and so play with Cyanogenmod’s options for hours on end. I also need to take screenshots from time to time, and this helps. Others will have different reasons. If you have any more, add them in the comments. Once this series finishes I’ll add the best ones to the main post.