Upcoming Android 4.5 Could Become More Challenging To Root App Developers

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Android 4.4 KitKat

Chainfire, a team of XDA developers behind the popular CF-Auto-Root and SuperSU tools, revealed via a Google+ post that the next version of Android OS may make life even harder for root app developers. This announcement complemented their earlier statement in January that revisions to the open-source platform may render most root applications unusable due to its expected restriction of access to files found inside the ?/data? partition.

The updates that can affect root access to the new Android OS (which is expected to be called Android 4.5) are two-fold, according to Chainfire. First, the issue began with Android?s agreement to incorporate SELinux into their system. SELinux is a software structure that functions to improve security in Linux computer systems, which also serves as the foundation for the Android OS. Google?s home-grown mobile OS is planning to implement stricter SELinux policies that will make it more secure but will also make context switching more difficult. Ultimately, this change can block the processes by which apps gain root access.

The second, more complicated change is Android?s decision to make Android Runtime (ART) to be the default runtime compiler in their Android Open Source Project (AOSP). For beginners, ART is a relatively new runtime that replaces the aging Dalvik runtime in the new Android 4.5. It is said that the Google-made ART will be able to launch applications much faster and more efficiently than the Java-based Dalvik, thereby improving battery life and providing better performance. However, due to ART?s current state of development, many root app developers are having issues on how they will make root apps compatible with ART. Moreover, the blend of this new runtime and a stricter SELinux kernel may make root apps lose authorization and any incorrect query may result to continuous crashes and reboots.

The idea behind Google’s adoption of the mentioned changes is not necessarily to prevent the proliferation of root applications. Instead, Google may have been planning to do this to arrive at a more secure Android OS. The Android root app development scene is still optimistic and determined to crush any obstacle that may come their way. Having said that, Chainfire already updated their SuperSU tool that will be able to work on the latest version of AOSP builds. Furthermore, they mentioned that it is possible to get around the potential ART crash. Although it may be a very time-consuming task, all developers need to do is to eagerly test their root-accessing apps against the ART and fine-tune them accordingly.


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