S-OFF exploit for M8 released by Firewater team, Google Play edition conversion now possible for GSM handsets

Good news for those wanting greater freedom to hack and tinker with the HTC One M8, as the Firewater dev team has released its method for gaining S-OFF ("security off") on the device. The method is relatively straightforward if you're handy with a command line — first your device will need to be rooted, then disable any lockscreen security, push the files to your device and let them work their magic.

If you're unfamiliar with the intricacies of S-OFF, it's a property which disables hardware write protection on HTC devices, letting you tinker around with stuff on the internal flash that you wouldn't normally be able to modify. Many preproduction devices come with S-OFF, but most retail models are S-ON, meaning "security on." S-OFF is not to be confused with bootloader unlocking, which opens up the device in a more limited manner, allowing custom recovery images and ROMs to be loaded.

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One of the things S-OFF enables is an easy path to covert your GSM (i.e. not Sprint or Verizon) HTC One M8 to a Google Play edition, replacing the Sense ROM with vanilla Android. A tweaked RUU (ROM Update Utility) has been released by XDA user graffixnyc allowing GSM HTC One M8 owners with S-OFF to make the switch to GPe — ROM, bootloader, recovery and all, meaning future OTA updates should also work without a hitch. (A similar conversion method was available for the old HTC One, the M7, last year.)

As we said in our hands-on feature on the Google Play edition M8, though, you'll miss out on many of the M8's top features in the process, instead switching to a barebones, Nexus-style Android experience.

As always, there's no guarantee this S-OFF exploit will work for everyone. And all of these hacks are to be performed at your own risk, so don't proceed unless you know what you're doing.

Source: XDA (1), (2), Firewater S-OFF