Wednesday, 3 July 2013

"Jailbreaking" vs. "Android rooting"

Jailbreaking devices running the Apple iOS operating system is sometimes compared to gaining root access on Android devices. However, these are distinct concepts. In the tightly-controlled iOS world, technical restrictions prevent (1) installing or booting into a modified or entirely new operating system (a "locked bootloader" prevents this), (2) sideloading unsigned applications onto the device is also prevented, and (3) user-installed apps are restricted from having root privileges. Bypassing all these restrictions together constitute the expansive term "jailbreaking" of Apple devices. That is, jailbreaking entails overcoming several types of iOS security features simultaneously.
By contrast, Android devices may or may not have locked bootloaders, with many vendors such as HTC and Google explicitly providing the user the ability to unlock devices and even replace the operating system entirely. Similarly, the ability to sideload apps is typically permissible on Android devices without root permissions. Thus, it is primarily the third aspect of iOS jailbreaking relating to superuser privileges that correlates to Android rooting.