Sony Ericsson sanctions smartphone boot loader unlocking
Pledges to provide the tools
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.
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". ®
One small step for man.
Somehow I doubt returning control of hardware to it's rightful owners will become fashionable though.
Having been a Sony fan for years - TVs, surround sound, ps3, phones, I swore last year that I would never buy a Sony Ericsson or Sony device again, following a ridiculous experience with my Xperia X10 phone - outlandish bugs, crapware, no updates, blatant apathy from customer service, and a locked bootloader to prevent me installing roms that actually work.
Then this week they announce they'll deliver Gingerbread to the X10, and future phones will have bootloader unlocked? Significant steps in the right direction.
Shame for Sony I've switched to HTC as a result, and I've recommended to people to avoid SE, but now I might consider them again if they stay competitive with this sort of approach.
This seems like a decent compromise - provide tools so "advanced" users can flash a custom ROM but make it clear it invalidates much of your support if you do so. A bit like Google does with the Nexus, in fact.
Might consider a Sony Ericsson handset now...
Ericsson seems to be a moderating influence on Sony. Perhaps if Ericsson had helped to develop the PS3, we might still have OtherOS on there....
Sony has solved the biggest complain about the Xperia
The biggest complain about Xperia Pro is that it will stop at Android 2.1.
This gives the ones that complain a method to go to 2.2 and beyond (the hardware is quite good actually) and Sony does not need to bother with trying to keep Timescape alive on old hardware.
Here you go, stop complaining, GFDI :)