Android A to Z

Hacking.  It means a lot of different things to different people, and to the public at large it conjures up imagery of evil people in exotic places.  When we talk about hacking here at Android Central, we usually mean it in its original sense -- tearing into software (or hardware) and changing things until they fit our liking.  That's the good kind, and what we're going to talk about now.

Android hacking covers a lot of bases, from small but interesting things like changing statusbar icons and colors, to giant projects like custom-built AOSP ROMs, to super-geeky things like enabling the hidden FM Radio and 720p video recording on the Nexus One.  Most of the time installing and using any of these hacks will require your phone be rooted, and may even require a custom recovery designed to flash files that haven't been signed by the phone's manufacturer.  It can be complicated, and it pretty much voids any warranty that may be left on the device you're hacking away at.  

All these hacks you read and hear about are also usually pretty device-specific.  You'll not want to try things designed for the HTC Droid Incredible on your Motorola Photon, or even the HTC Droid Incredible 2.  This is where a little research and a lot of reading becomes necessary so you have a handle on what you're doing before you do it.  Armed with a little knowledge you sure can have a blast hacking away at your Android phone or tablet.

But we'd be remiss in not mentioning the bad hacking.  You know what it is. You should know when to avoid it. There are gray areas, to be sure, and we're not going to get overly preachy here. If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Remember that real people work real hard on apps and hardware. Just sayin'.

Either way, you don't want to go it alone.  We'll tell you about the hacks and modifications here at Android Central, and the forums are full of people just like you and me who love our Android phones, and want to explore more about them.  Use them, and we can all hack together. 

Previously on Android A to Z: What is GSM?; Find more in the Android Dictionary

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Reader comments

Android A to Z: H is for Hacking


basic rule of trying new things - if it feels wrong, wait for some sap to install it and tell you what it stole from him.

Great definition, but I think they could clarify about the controversy surrounding the meaning of the word "hacking", since it's used pejoratively thanks to the media using it to refer to cyber criminals.

The word 'cracker' has been invented for 'hackers' who break into computers and bypass online security systems, but there's no consensus.

More info about the controversy here: