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Sony Ericsson sanctions smartphone boot loader unlocking

Pledges to provide the tools

High performance access to file storage

Sony Ericsson is to allow "advanced" Android coders to unlock the boot loader built into its latest smartphones.

Gaining access to a handset's boot loader is a key stage in installing alternative firmware on a phone, a process a fair few Android fans like to undertake in order to rid themselves of network operator-installed add-ons and to gain access to more up-to-date versions of the Google OS.

SE, like most handset makers, has frowned on this in the past, largely, it now says, because it couldn't devise a scheme to make this possible without treading on the toes of "business partners" - read 'carriers' - and developers keen to maintain the secure environment which makes it that bit harder to nick their apps.

SE now reckons it has a solution to the problem: a way to make the boot loader accessible without offending carriers' and commercial coders' interests.

Today, it pledged to make this solution available to all.

There are catches, of course. Unlocking the boot loader will zap your smartphone's warranty, SE warned. If you screw up, it implied, don't come running to us. Ditto if the firmware you install messes with the power sub-system causing your phone to overheat and explode, etc, etc.

And only certain phones will be supported: the Xperias Arc, Neo, Pro and Play - and then only "certain releases of the phones". That means a network operator Sim lock.

SE's tip: if the Android SDK's Fastboot facility can't connect to your phone, your phone can't have its boot loader unlocked using the official method.

SE didn't say when the boot loader unlock tool will be made available, but it promised it would provide more details "later this spring". ®

High performance access to file storage

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