Thursday, September 23, 2010

Android Hacking

Here's a great story about hacking on an Android phone:

I totally got to hotwire a phone battery with a sliced-open USB cable while reflashing it with leaked firmware.

The article makes several related points:

  • The Android community, while much younger than the Windows Phone or iPhone communities, is already much more adventurous and developer-friendly than those hyper-controlled communities:

    a double high five for the Android community, which is about as enthusiastic and creative a group of people as I've ever encountered online.

  • However, Google and its phone-company partners are still struggling with the idea of being part of an open developer-oriented community:

    Google goes on and on about how Android is "open," and the amazing Android community is a proud credit to how tinker-friendly the platform is at its best -- there's a cooked ROM for everything.

According to the author, Google is trying to have it both ways, and can't:

Once I left the reservation and installed that leaked 2.2 build, I was gone for good -- no official path back to the fold exists. That's not true on other platforms: if I was running a jailbroken iPhone, I'd just restore it with iTunes, and it would be factory-fresh with known software. That's simply not the case with Android, and it's a problem -- Google can't keep implicitly condoning Android hacking and trading on the enthusiasm of its community unless it requires manufacturers to provide restore tools for every device. Sometimes you just want to go home again.

I haven't yet taken the plunge into the smart-phone world. I know that, when I do finally get one, I'm going to want to program it. I have talked with a variety of friends and colleagues who have smartphones, of all different breeds, and some of them have tried programming theirs. But, so far, every development experience that they've described has sounded far too limiting and frustrating.

Soon, soon.

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