in Apps, Devices & Resources

Top Reasons to Root your Android Device

Yesterday I finally rooted my new Nexus 5. Here are my first experiences about the advantages I liked best.

Rooting the Nexus 5 on Mac OS X

I didn’t want to bother downloading the entire Android SDK so I looked around for a dead simple solution and found the Nexus 5 One Click Toolkit. It could hardly be easier. Just download One Click Root Toolkit for Nexus 5, unzip it and follow the instructions.

It comes packed with TWRP Recovery, which has the advantage of a touch interface in comparison to Clockworkmod Recovery.

Installing a Custom ROM

One reason to root my device was to be able to install custom ROMs. I did a little research of decent ROMs that are built on Android 4.4.2 and support the Nexus 5. I tried AOKP, OmniROM and CyanogenMod. Long story short: AOKP felt a bit cluttered for my taste, I really liked OmniROM but it didn’t run as stable as I had hoped and I felt quickly at home on CM. So, although I’m sure I’ll keep on trying other ROMs from time to time I sticked with CyanogenMod for now. To install any ROM just copy it to your device using Android File Manager, boot into Recovery (Holding volume down and power, releasing power once the Nexus vibrates), wipe Dalvik/Caches, choose Install and browse to your downloaded zip file. Don’t forget to make a backup before. Also, keep in mind that these ROMs come without Gapps (Google Apps), so you’ll have find the gapps package that fits your ROM, device and Android version and flash that, too (after flashing the ROM).

Tweaks I love about CyanogenMod

Of course, most of these tweaks are also available with other ROMs or even originate from them

  1. Use volume buttons to wake from sleep.
    Being left-handed it’s really hard for me to unlock the Nexus when holding it in one hand, so this is really makes things a lot easier. Double Tap to Wake (DT2W) would also be a nice feature but as it’s said to drain the battery I stayed away from it (also, you’ll need to flash another kernel to support DT2W).
  2. Better Quick Settings
    CM, as most other custom ROMs, allows you to customize the quick actions that are available when you pull down the status bar. I often switch orientation lock and it was always bugging me that stock Android didn’t have a quick toggle for that (besides using homescreen widgets). Even better: CM has a feature to directly pull out these quick toggles when you slide down either on the left or right side of the status bar. Otherwise you always see the notifications first and need to press that hard-to-reach button in the upper right corner to switch to the quick toggles.
  3. Standby by double tapping the status bar
    Again, no need to reach for the power button. A simple double tap on the status bar and the Nexus goes to bed.
  4. Extended Desktop
    Once activated Extended Desktop can be switched on and of using a quick toggle or a power menu shortcut. It removes the dock and the status bar, giving you even more screen real estate. It really makes a difference for reading, browsing the web or playing games (no more accidentally hitting the home button!). If you need the dock and status bar temporarily just swipe from the upper or lower edge of your screen and they’ll slide in for a moment. You need them all the time, hit the quick toggle.
  5. No more annoying popups about media volume
    Stock Android was creeping me out with its warnings about the hazards of too loud music.

Apps that require root (or work better with root)

  1. AdAway
    Gets rid of ads across all apps. It does this by modifying your hosts file using a frequently updated list of blocked servers. A really nice side effect is the reduction of data usage.
  2. Greenify
    Greenify helps you to keep or improve performance and battery life by enabling you to put apps into hibernation, thus keeping them from using too much CPU. For example I really don’t need Facebook being active all the time and I actually like it better if I don’t get notifications from every other app. Win-Win.
  3. AFWall+
    AFWall+ is a firewall based on iptables. It allows you to decide which apps are allowed to access the network. You can have different settings for Wifi and Cellular and you can choose if you want to block traffic based on a blacklist or whitelist. This is a good thing if you’re on a limited data plan and want to block some apps from draining your mobile data volume or if you don’t understand why the heck a torch application should have any need to connect to the internet.

Custom Kernels

Last but not least rooting your Android device enables you to install customized kernels. Custom kernels offer various features, from over- and underclocking your CPU to adding new tweaks such as the aforementioned DT2W or Swipe to Wake. I read a bit about various kernels and decided to give Franco Kernel a shot. It’s supposed to save a lot of battery juice. I really hope this turns out to be true. The author of Franco Kernel has got two apps on the playstore that come in handy:

  • franco.Kernel updater free just lets you check for Kernel updates and lets you download them.
  • franco.Kernel updater offers kernel updates as well as whole bunch of advanced features to tweak your settings, such a over- and underclocking your CPU.

Conclusion

It’s not even been 24 hours since I rooted my shiny new Nexus 5 but nonetheless I wouldn’t wanna go back to stock android. What were your reasons to root your device or, if you haven’t done so, what’s holding you back?

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