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HTC Unlocks Its Own Phones 145

Posted by Soulskill
from the perfectly-normal-and-healthy dept.
itwbennett writes "Having just announced that it would continue to run Android on its best phones, HTC is now 'needling' Google by making good on 'promises it made earlier in the year to deliver bootloader unlock tools for many of its most popular Android phones,' writes blogger Kevin Fogarty. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, HTC CEO Peter Chou said that HTC views unlocked OSes as a way to encourage both ISVs and owners to get more involved developing apps and mods for the phones. Google, which has been trying to lock Android down more, probably doesn't see it that way."
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HTC Unlocks Its Own Phones

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  • What (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 19, 2011 @04:20PM (#37147582)

    Can we get a citation on "Google, which has been trying to lock Android down more,". Google has released two phones ever, both of which are easily rootable. Or does Google somehow take the heat for Motorola's actions prior to the buyout? Or is this just more FUD?

    • Re:What (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GooberToo (74388) on Friday August 19, 2011 @04:49PM (#37147938)

      Agreed. More of the endless flood of trollish, completely dishonest reporting which is constantly being pushed on /. these days.

      Google is pushing for an ever more open Android. They are, of course, balanced by carriers who want a more closed ecosystem - the status quo.

      Bluntly, HTC's desire for openness is only SURPASSED by Google's.

      This perhaps hint at an article for hire by Microsoft or Apple - both of whom have been caught doing this type of unethical FUDing before. Both Microsoft and Apple have a strong desire to unseat Android, seemingly no matter how low they need to go.

      Perhaps the courts and patent battles are not going nearly as well as Microsoft and Apple had originally hoped?

      • Agreed. More of the endless flood of trollish, completely dishonest reporting which is constantly being pushed on /. these days.

        Maybe itwbennet saw Florian Mueller [slushdot.com] doing it, figured he had to somehow be making a lot of money or else he would have stopped it, and decided to jump on the money train.

        (Or blogger Kevin Foggarty, or the president of HTC. Not really sure who came up with it, to find out, I'd have to RTFA, and if it has that FUD in there, I don't want to bother.)

      • Exactly what I was thinking - another FUD attack on Google. The first thing I think now when I hear an attack on Google and Android is that there's a very good chance that it was written by a shill.

        IMO, Apple doesn't have much of a reputation for hiring shills to do the dirty work for them - they have big enough mouths to spew FUD themselves. [cultofmac.com]

        Microsoft on the other hand has a deep-running history of hiring shills - and it wouldn't be the first time [roughlydrafted.com] CNET's been on the receiving end either.

      • by DrYak (748999) on Friday August 19, 2011 @08:18PM (#37149634) Homepage

        Agreed. More of the endless flood of trollish, completely dishonest reporting which is constantly being pushed on /. these days.

        And same goes, in my opinion, for their comment about security:

        Unlocked phones and user-installed software pose much higher risk of infection by malware or corruption of system software.

        Uh... no... sorry. An unlocked phone isn't suddenly more susceptible to malware, just because it's unlocked. That might have been true in some case with iPhones due to 2 separate reasons (A. a blunder which left all phones with the same default password for SSH, making it easy to remotely log into iphone of user not savvy enough to change the password after installing SSH. B. due to the closed nature of iPhones, some hole might have to be left open so after each reboot the iPhone can still be forced to run homebrew apps). But in practice, unlocked phones tend to be more secure, simply for the fact that they can still get updates (like the cyanogenmods) which are likely to contain the latest security patch, even long after the manufacturer and/or the carrier have dropped support. Not to mention that some 3rd party ROMs might contain additional security features.

      • Samsung seems to be pretty open as well, at least with their latest offerings (I have an SGS2). I think Motorola is the only major Android vendor that still tries to lock things in now.

      • by RockDoctor (15477)

        Agreed. More of the endless flood of trollish, completely dishonest reporting which is constantly being pushed on /. these days.

        And how many story submissions have you made recently as your contribution to the effort to reverse the flood of (etc etc) reporting you so dislike?

        Remember the sign on the exit door from the polling station that read "if you did not participate, you've forfeited your right to complain"? OK, it's a metaphorical sign, but the problem is a general one.

        • Well, no -- it's not a submission problem, it's an editorial problem.

          Trolls will always submit FUD like this stupid, ignorant, misinformed article. But why /. editors let it through (especially unedited, with that ridiculous last sentence) is beyond me ...

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Hey it is much better than the "HIV Cures Cancer" headline they posted. I swear that Slashdot is just about at the Midnight Sun level of integrity. Man I used to really love Slashdot, that is until they decided that we need their insite.

    • by Demerara (256642)

      Google has released two phones ever, both of which are easily rootable.

      Easily by the average /. reader - but I suspect that HTC would like to see that bar lowered significantly. I imagine that a hardware vendor (HTC, for example, but it could be anyone) wanting to put a serious hand-held device into an enterprise environment would like to make it simple to cut the umbilical chord to Google.

      Or just to offer power users more options to rid themselves of the constant sucking noise of Google (and Facebook and

  • by Toonol (1057698) on Friday August 19, 2011 @04:21PM (#37147590)
    HTC is now 'needling' Google by making good on 'promises it made earlier in the year to deliver bootloader unlock tools for many of its most popular Android phones,'

    I have a strong suspicion that Google will not care one single bit.
    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      Personally - what annoys me is that if I purchase a phone I'm not permitted to reflash it to a different language - even if it's the same version otherwise. OK, there are ways around it so I'm not entirely locked down.

  • Wait...what? Huh?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GweeDo (127172) on Friday August 19, 2011 @04:21PM (#37147598) Homepage

    "Google, which has been trying to lock Android down more, probably doesn't see it that way."

    The only phones that Google "produces" are the Nexus line. These have unlockable bootloaders already. Don't get me wrong, I am happy HTC is doing this, but that statement about Google is just silly and wrong.

    • +1. Google has NOTHING to do with locked down phones. The carriers are the ones trying to force it.
      • by sqlrob (173498)

        They do with the Motorola purchase. Isn't Motorola the one with all the efuse junk?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by andymadigan (792996)
          The purchase hasn't gone through yet, so referring to Motorola Mobility as 'Google' is not (yet) accurate. Who knows what Google will do with Moto once they have control? They might decide efuse was a bad idea and release an unlock app.
        • by roc97007 (608802)

          What's more important is what the policy will be after the sale goes through. Realistically Google can't be held responsible for policies of some company they don't own.

    • Right, Google's only lockdown being applied is to make sure you can exploit the OS or kernel for root access. Now with unlocked bootloaders, and a kernel source, one can compile their own Android with root access that doesn't compromise the OS or the kernel. To think that Google is the one locking the bootloaders is just plain madness. OEMs are responsible for that.
    • by gorzek (647352) <gorzek@Nospam.gmail.com> on Friday August 19, 2011 @04:42PM (#37147854) Homepage Journal

      I'm with everyone else: what the hell is the submitter talking about??

      • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Friday August 19, 2011 @04:57PM (#37148014)

        Since Google decided to delay releasing Honeycomb's source because they didnt want more half-cooked tablets on the market, suddenly the loud-mouth brigade is trying to paint them in a bad light. Google exerting a little control on the wild-west world of tablets and its own phoneOS is a good thing. Heaven forbid AOpen or some other shit shop wait a few weeks for google to iron out the bugs, have them verify their hardware can run Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich and make them sign a contract that they will updates the OS to the newest versions for a period of 18 months. The de facto world of release garbage and buggy phones, never supplying updates and hurting Android's reputation is no longer welcome, and I'm glad.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Heaven forbid AOpen or some other shit shop wait a few weeks for google to iron out the bugs, have them verify their hardware can run Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich and make them sign a contract that they will updates the OS to the newest versions for a period of 18 months. The de facto world of release garbage and buggy phones, never supplying updates and hurting Android's reputation is no longer welcome, and I'm glad.

          They can and will always be able to do that - AOSP allows them. Unless Google kills AOSP

        • by Bucky24 (1943328)

          Ice Cream Sandwich.

          That should be the name of the next version of android, hands down.

        • Since Google decided to delay releasing Honeycomb's source because they didnt want more half-cooked tablets on the market, suddenly the loud-mouth brigade is trying to paint them in a bad light.

          Kind of suggests that making lame excuses for not releasing the source was a thoroughly bad idea, doesn't it?

    • by Threni (635302)

      Exactly. Google get pressed to force manufacturers to be nicer to devs/hackers but say their hands are tied cos it's all open and they can do what they like. Why would they possibly be against unlockable bootloaders? It's hardly Google that has to deal with muppets bricking their HTC (etc) phones then phoning tech support.

  • by secondsun (195377) <secondsun@gmail.com> on Friday August 19, 2011 @04:22PM (#37147608) Journal

    Other than Honeycomb and GoogleTV being not open sourced (which Google admits is a one off which will be fixed in Ice Cream Sandwich), what other evidence of them locking Android down is there? It really felt like a throw away line.

    Meanwhile, HTC makes rather awesome phones and this makes it much easier to suggest phones to other developers.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by afidel (530433)
      They just bought Motorolla Mobile, by FAR the worst offender when it comes to locking devices.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        My OG Droid says different.

      • by Baloroth (2370816)
        Riiiiiight. Just bought it. So they have no control over Motorola ATM. Maybe they actually want to stop the worst offender?
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        They haven't purchased them yet - just announced the deal. Give Google a few months once they are in charge before judgement.

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        Wrong! They are buying Motorola Mobile. It has not gone through yet. Wow more spin. How about waiting until the deal is done for a bit and see what happens.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Google announced that if you want to be an Android licensee you have to follow their rules about what you can and can't do with/to Android. To avoid fragmentation, or some such.

    • by ftobin (48814) *

      They recently removed the ability for apps to read Gmail in Android, which is very useful for notification/trigger systems.

  • Google has to be seen as providing Android as a walled garden OS in order to attract phone makers and telecoms. They would love for hackers to add to the capabilities of Android, but ultimately they need vendors to be happy first.

    HTC unlocking lets Google continue to provide a single, common platform that vendors can do with as they please, i.e. locking it down. Meanwhile, hackers can unofficially push the limits of the same platform. Popular and useful improvements can be brought back into the trunk. G

  • I wonder what other people are experiancing with using it. The one person I know who has used this still has a mostly locked down phone. So far the most he has gotten out of it is a message on the phone saying "unlocked"
  • by milbournosphere (1273186) on Friday August 19, 2011 @04:28PM (#37147682)
    I will definitely keep this in mind when shopping for my next phone. I wonder if this HTC news, the Google/Moto deal and Samsung's dealings with Cyanogen will lead to a more open phone environment in the near future. I'm crossing my fingers :)
  • by Daneurysm (732825) on Friday August 19, 2011 @04:30PM (#37147700)
    I'm not sure what the hell is going on over at HTC but not only has Google made every one of their phones easily unlockable, nor do I think they care to, but, HTC also made the very first Nexus (NexusOne). "Fastboot oem unlock" is a mantra among the Android hacking/modding community for that very reason.

    Color me confused.
  • by roc97007 (608802) on Friday August 19, 2011 @04:36PM (#37147776) Journal

    ...and will be my next phone...

    • by GweeDo (127172)

      They are awesome! I hope you also like extended battery companies ;)

      * Sent from a current HTC Thunderbolt owner.

    • by whoever57 (658626)

      ...and will be my next phone...

      Why? Samsung is ahead of HTC in providing unlocked phones.

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        Because I'm pissed off at Samsung for, among other things, the way they handle updates to non-rooted phones. They take forever to come out with official updates, seemingly wanting you to buy a new phone to get an incrementally later (not even current) version of Android. This is very specifically why I do not pick Samsung as my work phone, as I am not allowed to install unofficial updates and am unlikely to see official updates in a timely manner, despite the press releases.

        And just incidentally, my daugh

        • ATT shares part of the blame with respect to firmware updates, but samsung doesn't handle it well either. I remember the day after I purchased my captivate they had just released a firmware update which they basically forced you to install. Update went great, until it hard bricked my phone. To att's credit they replaced it the same day. Between that experience, the long wait to the next firmware update, the broken gps, and AT&T trying to charge be to tether my phone to use bandwidth I already paid f
    • HTC makes great Android phones -- I own one myself (the original T-Mobile G1) but they do happen to be one of the manufacturers that now pays a Microsoft Tax on every device sold. Dunno if that has any effect on your purchasing decisions but it's worth thinking about.
      • Dunno if that has any effect on your purchasing decisions but it's worth thinking about.

        No, it's really not.

  • by PitaBred (632671) <[gro.sndnyd.derbatip] [ta] [todhsals]> on Friday August 19, 2011 @04:39PM (#37147824) Homepage

    This story means that I'm going to recommend HTC phones over others to everyone I know, and buy them myself when I upgrade. Even if my friends/family don't unlock theirs, this news just gives me that much more trust in HTC hardware.

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      Don't forget to let them know that when they're unlocked, they might lose their warranty options.

    • This story means that I'm going to recommend HTC phones over others to everyone I know, and buy them myself when I upgrade. Even if my friends/family don't unlock theirs, this news just gives me that much more trust in HTC hardware.

      Fanboydom is bad, even if you're on the side of the righetous.

      • by PitaBred (632671)

        Show me any locked down phone that wouldn't be better if you had the option to unlock it. As long as HTC and Samsung keep providing competitive devices, the unlockability is a major consumer-friendly feature and a decision point.

        "Fanboy" is blind adherence. If Samsung or HTC lock down their phones again, I would move elsewhere. But I will also support companies doing good work.

        • Just think about the statement I responded to, then think about how Mac fans were thought of back in the DOS days. If you are noisy to your friends about HTC products you'll be talked about behind your back.

  • by figleaf (672550) on Friday August 19, 2011 @04:41PM (#37147840) Homepage

    no longer under warranty?!!!

    • by padraic2 (2432584)
      It's an important detail that some are worried about - you provide your phone's information (not sure how much personal info is required) to their unlock web tool in order to get a "key" (probably a flashable .zip file) that will unlock the bootloader. But, say in the near future you have a hardware malfunction - are you now told "we see you're on the unlock list - sorry, no warranty for you"?
    • by riflemann (190895)

      Unlocking does NOT void a phone's warranty, as much as the manufacturers would like you to believe.

      Under the relevant jurisdictions of much of /. readership, it is illegal for a manufacturer to deny a warranty claim, *unless* they can show that the modification was a factor in the fault (in this case, the third party firmware such as cyanogen).

      This is what prevents car manufacturers denying warranty claims on, say a gearbox, just because you replaced the radio. Same goes for your phone, if the camera CCD st

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... I'm sure glad I can set up my own AppStore for iOS devices ...

    ... err, well ... I'm glad I can root my iOS device without a company releasing a patch to break it ...

    ... err, well ... I'm glad that ... that ...

    :cry:

  • Does this only affect new phones, or will this work on older phones? I made the mistake of upgrading my HTC Evo to a firmware that isn't supported by any unlocking tools I've found. It would be nice to have a tool from a manufacturer that accomplishes this. Mainly I want to dump all the extra crap Sprint shoves on the phone.

    • by Daneurysm (732825)
      Check out the newest version of the Revolutionary tool at Revolutionary.io ...I believe the latest version (v0.4 pre I think?) has unlocked E4Gs that took the GB update a month or two ago.
  • by Loopy (41728) on Friday August 19, 2011 @06:06PM (#37148668) Journal

    What does this dude have against Google? Does he know something nobody else does? From the bottom of his article:

    "I think there's a lot we can do...it's not the operating system, it's the ecosystem...so we think we can find a way to differentiate to add value, but at the same time leverage our partners, Google and Microsoft, since we have such a great relationship with them," Chou told Dow Jones Newsires during an interview.

    Where's this "needling Google" Kevin alludes to?

  • This is great! I'm using a MyTouch 4g (HTC Glacier) flashed with Cyanogenmod 7, but it was a bit of a fuss to root it in order to flash. If they'll make the job easier, I'll look first to HTC for the next phone 'cause this current one w/CM7 is super!

  • Let's assume Google was trying to lock down Android (I assume the FUD comes partly from the delayed 3.0 source code releases), it still doesn't change the fact that bootloaders differ from device to device. Google virtually has no power over what kind of protection if any HTC should choose to use.

    TFA is misleading at best.

  • I was under the impression that this unlock was only for devices sold direct from HTC, which excludes pretty much every HTC device in the US. Has this changed?

    • You're wrong. All you need to do is give them your serial number from under the battery compartment. Where you bought the phone has no bearing on it whatsoever.

      • by Microlith (54737)

        Interesting. This does wonders for blowing Motorola's justification for locking down their handsets to utter shit.

        Now if only something could be done about all those Android-only userspace binaries...

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