Android phone auto reverts jailbreaks
T-Mobile firmware rollback squashes modders
A new Android smartphone from T-Mobile ships with hardware that thwarts jailbreakers by automatically restoring modified devices to their original factory state.
The HTC G2, which began shipping on Tuesday, reinstalls the original firmware when it is rebooted, much to the chagrin of would-be jailbreakers trying to root the device so they can run their own software and third-party apps not approved by T-Mobile. While they managed to modify the smartphone, they soon found those changes were undone as soon as they rebooted the device.
The discovery has generated howls of protest from those who believe that people who buy hardware devices ought to be able to use them however they see fit. Apple has long closed jailbreak holes in iOS updates and Texas Instruments lobbed legal threats at hobbyist who posted the cryptographic keys used to modify calculators. Google even has the ability to remotely install or uninstall apps on Android phones.
But HTC seems to have upped the ante with a hardware-based approach to meddlesome users who have the gall – and often the expertise – to shun the self-serving restrictions put in place by device and OS manufacturers.
It's not entirely clear how the devices are able to reset themselves. Blogger Lauren Weinstein speculates the new G2 “is using a firmware rewrite system to replace '/system' mods with the 'official' firmware upon reboot.” Security researcher Jon Oberheide tells Threatpost much the same thing. Both say it's too early to tell if there's a way to defeat the rollback mechanism.
What we can say for now is that the anti-jailbreak capability is sure to offend a core group of Android enthusiasts who are drawn to the mobile OS's open platform, which by definition can be modified by anyone. It's a pity, because there's a lot to like about the device, including its ability to play high def video seamlessly. Unless the jailbreak override can be overridden, consider it a deal breaker. ®
If you want a job working for Apple's marketing department you might find it more productive to apply directly rather than dropping hints in comments to news articles. The iPhone should be applauded for bringing about a new more useable generation of smart phones, but let's not pretend it's everything to everyone. Keyboard and Flash support anyone?
One or two weeks until they break the restore?
It's a pity that HTC is pulling a iCrap because it will cost them some sales and make people think twice before buying HTC devices.
What's the betting Apple will add this 'feature' to their phone next?
Ok Lee, I'll take a bite at that bait.
"[what you get] is a phone that is not quite as good as an iPhone, doesn't quite do as much as an iPhone, has slightly fewer apps than an iPhone, is slightly less usable than an iPhone but has the advantage that it is not controlled by the overwealming presence of St. Steve. Except that is, but much worse."
1) In what respect is it 'not quite as good as an iPhone'? Please elaborate. Is it that this phone doesn't offer such a good capability to drop calls when held the wrong way, or isn't as shiny as your new toy? Maybe it doesn't have the ability to reduce your bank balance as much on purchase, or increase your perceived status amongst useless meeja types?
2) Number of iPhone apps on Apple store: approx 150000. Number on Android store: approx 30000. (warning : numbers are the result of a quick google search so may not be accurate). So yes, the Apple store has more at the moment, but don't expect that to last, as the barrier to entry for publishing an Android app is much lower.
3) Less usable in what way? Such a nebulous assertation requires some sort of example in the very least, lest you be perceived as a troll. You wouldn't want that now, would you?
4) Yes, Andorid devices are not 'controlled by the overwealming [sic] presence of St. Steve', although they are controlled in some way by the sinister looming figure of the big G. So far, though, Google do not seem to have abused their position in the same sort of way that Apple are so fond of doing, for example by actively putting obstacles in front of people to prevent them from putting their own software onto their phones. Google are even kind enough to provide an SDK to allow us to do this...
5) Syntax error: verb clause missing subject.
Don't get me wrong, I'm no evangelist for Google, or for any company for that matter, but I have an Android phone precisely because it allows me to do pretty much what I like with it and Apple devices do not.
I shall now briefly returning to comment on the actual article at hand and say that what HTC have done, whilst within their rights as the hardware manufacturers, all smells a little malic* to me, although it's only likely to affect a small number of hobbyists who like to hack around with their devices at a low level. As pointed out by other commenters here, they'll just buy something else and HTC will lose a few tens of sales.
*Look it up.