STOP! Hammertime

I do what I do here at Android Central for a few different reasons, but the biggest is because I am an Android geek. I am totally into Android, and love talking about it – sometimes too much. I love you guys. All of us here do. So if what I’m going to say here sounds like I’m talking about you, don’t be offended. We’re still friends :)  Hit the break to read the rest.

The thing is, maybe rooting isn't for you. It's nothing personal.

I get a lot of email, and a good portion of it is questions and problems about hacking Android phones. I also read online forums, discussion groups, and social networking sites that are about Android. I’ve had an epiphany – some of you guys have no business rooting your phones. It’s not that you don’t have the best intentions and a desire to learn, but let’s face it – some people just aren’t technically inclined. It’s nothing to be ashamed of -- hell, there’s a laundry list of things that I have no business doing myself, yet see others do them every day. The difference is I have little interest in those things, and don’t have a handful of crazy guys telling me to do them every Thursday night. So, yeah, it’s not your fault you feel like you need to root your phone, even if you shouldn’t be doing it.

We try to help out Android newbies here as much as we can, and I think we do a good job. Our forum moderators and advisers are top-notch, and in my opinion, the best on the Interwebs. A conversation with them last week is what really opened my eyes. With the launch of the Thunderbolt, a lot of work went into writing some bullet-proof guides for rooting and stripping out the crapplications that Verizon forces on you. If you see Cory Streater in the forums, thank him for those – they’re not easy to write. If you see him in real life, buy him a beer. Or three. I’ve read those guides, and they’re amazingly simple, telling you exactly what to type, which buttons to press, and even giving you pictures if questions arise. I thought they made things so easy a caveman could do it. Until the questions started rolling in, that is.

Maybe it’s because I spend so much time at one, but I was shocked that so many folks with Android phones are computer-illiterate. I don’t mean that as an insult – it means they have lives and do other productive things while folks like me stay up too late, staring at monitors and drinking diet Mountain Dew. Things that seem so simple to many of us, like knowing what the Windows command prompt is, or how to extract and move files from a .zip, are Greek to some of you guys. You just don’t grok them, and maybe you never will. These are basics that you need to understand before you attempt things that turn a $600 piece of electronics into something it wasn’t designed to be. Believe it or not, we don’t cackle with delight when we hear about someone bricking their phone. If this sounds like you, I’m going to tell you right now – don’t root your phone.  No matter how easy the method, just don’t do it.

So by now, you’re either thinking that I’m some kind of idiot or you see where I’m coming from. If it’s the latter, you’re probably asking yourself, “Self, what can people do for a better Android experience if they can’t root and fix things?” There are three easy answers.

Buy a Google device

Once the Nexus S 4G comes out for Sprint, and the Xperia Play comes out for Verizon there will be a stock Android device on most carriers worldwide. They may be full of those crapplications, but big issues like Sense eating your battery or Blur not syncing your mail won’t be happening. And you definitely won’t need some sort of lag fix for crummy Samsung file systems. Besides, every Android fan should own a stock Googlephone at least once -- then use third party applications to customize it their way, instead of someone else's way.

Quit worrying about it

I tease everyone about making them use a Motorola Charm, but in reality it’s a fine device. It does everything it needs to do, and does most of it just fine. Remember, an un-rooted Android phone still allows more user customization than anything else out there, and if the Charm can do it, your phone can, too. Who cares if it takes two seconds to open the web browser instead of one and a half seconds? Your time isn’t that valuable – nobody’s is. Stop worrying about all those benchmark scores and the ZOMGHAXX!! that squeeze a tiny bit more performance out of a phone. It’s a phone. Chances are it already does everything you need it to do, and then some, without attempting something you don’t understand. And when we start telling you about the hacks and the root and how amazing it all is, ignore us. Or laugh at us because your phone works as intended while we justify our bugs with tech talk. My wife is not afraid to laugh at me when I need to borrow her phone because mine’s not working, and reminds me every time that it’s my own damn fault.

Learn

Maybe you’re not a techie, but you want to be. Buy a Windows for Dummies book, or Mac, or Linux (preferably Linux, 'cause it's better :p). Read it. Read it again. Find a forum online dedicated to help folks learn about their computer – they’re easy to find. Ask questions and ignore the online trolls, because eventually your questions will start to make sense. And if you can’t find an answer by reading, ask in our forums. The General Chat area would be an awesome place to get answers, because we will make sure those online trolls leave you alone while you’re at our house. When you can read a newbie root guide and understand what you’re seeing, then, and only then, root your phone.

We’re still going to talk about root, ROMs, and hacks. That's what we do. The guy who has to show off how much better his rooted phone is than your un-rooted phone is still going to be out there making a fool of himself. Don’t be afraid to ignore it, and focus on the things you can do -- Vcast and NASCAR never hurt anybody.