Try Participate Learning — Better teaching through digital resources.

Android Explainer Series: Android expert tips for rooting, speed and gaming

by Ian Black

Are you beyond the basics with Android and looking to get more out of your tablet or smartphone? There is nothing wrong with being an Android nerd. In fact, nerds and Android go together like peanut butter and chocolate.

With a little exploration, you’ll be to take complete control of your Android, increase its performance, change the user interface, play games ported from game consoles, and more. Read on for tips in becoming Commander-in-Chief of your Android device.

Take note: Becoming a Super User of your Android device will make your warranty invalid so please take special care as the procedure, especially any misstep, can turn your phone into a useless doorstop. Also, for things like running ported games – keep in mind that it’s illegal to do unless you have your own purchased copies of those games. Thus, all the tips in this story should be performed only if you are a fully informed risk-taker who takes personal responsibility for staying within the law.

Get to the Root

Root Access is an old computer science term for obtaining the permissions to administer the top-most directory of a computer’s file system, the root. In doing so, you have authority to move, delete, or change any of the software on the system or add new software. You can root your Android device and assume control just as people do with desktops and servers. The procedure varies slightly from device to device, but the basic steps follow below. You’ll need a USB cable to connect your Android to a computer and an SD memory card.

Search for Android rooting software on the web based on your phone make and model. Try the keywords “root Android” and your device’s name and manufacturer. Among the set are Z4Root, SuperOneClick, and Universal Androot. Download the software to your computer and read the instructions.

1) Download and install the Android SDK (Software Developer Kit). Some root software executes through the SDK, others use Android’s USB Storage capability.

2) Back up all your data from your phone to a safe place on the cloud or a computer, as the rooting process will reset everything.

3) Connect your Android to your computer via the USB cable. Then, set your Android to accept USB Debugging. On the device, go to Settings > Applications > Development and click the check box for USB Debugging.

4) Launch the Android SDK on your desktop. Launch the root software according to the instructions.

5) Follow the root software’s instructions to complete the root process on your device. Your Android will reboot during the process.

Congratulations! You’ve assumed command of your Android.

ROM Central

Hacked versions of Android and rooted applications are called ROM. They are available on the Web and through the Android Market itself. They are all specifically tagged with phrases like “for root users” or “Android ROM”. The installation process for these is trickier than downloading and installing a regular app from the Market. Many root users find it easiest to download ROM management software. You can search the web or the Android Market for “ROM manager”. A top-rated one currently available in the Market is ROM Manager by ClockWorkMod. ROM managers allow you to quickly make recovery images for you to restore if a new ROM makes your device unstable or causes a problem. They also allow you to quickly switch from one ROM to another with minimal hassle.

Speed and Endurance

So now what? Use your new powers for good by increasing your device’s battery life and performance. From the Android Market and, download software that can only be run on rooted Android devices like Optimus Root Memory Optimizer for aggressively managing memory (thus improving performance) and SetCPU for Root Users for tweaking your device’s processing power up for faster response or down for slowing battery drain.

Blast from Gaming’s Past

Fans of old school gaming consoles like Nintendo 64, Super Nintendo, Sega, Sega Genesis, Game Boy, and Atari may be overwhelmed by the number of emulator ROMs that play the genuine classic games that ran on all these systems including Legends of Zelda, Donkey Kong, Asteroids, Centipede, Missile Command, and many others. Browse the selection and choose those that have many positive ratings. Remember: it’s not legal to download games of which you don’t already own personal copies.

From there, you just need to search for ROMs that interest you. You can find ROMs that drive the hardware – like the camera – of your phone in different ways, change the user interface, back up the device, make your Android act as a terminal emulator, clear ads from everything, and a lot more. Remember to check the comments and ratings because all ROM software is “use at your own risk”.

Also see: Android Explainer Series: Apps for driving, Google TV and extending battery life

Also see: Android Explainer Series: Android 101 for Beginners

Also see: Android Explainer Series: Best Android smartphones and devices from AT&T