Motorola promises to deliver unlocked bootloaders on future Android smartphones shipping in late 2011. News of the unlocked bootloader situation should bring joy to developers, hackers, and users who wish to install custom ROMs on their devices as a locked bootloader would prevent custom ROMs from working.
However, there is a catch. If your Motorola-made Android device is sold and subsidized through a carrier, the unlocked bootloader situation would need to garner carrier approval before Motorola will ship a device with the bootloader available and accessible to users.
In a statement to AusDroid, the company says:
We completely understand the operator requirement for security to the end user, and as well, want to support the developer communities desire to use these products as a development platform. It is our intention to enable the unlockable/relockable bootloader currently found on Motorola XOOM across our portfolio of devices starting in late 2011, where carriers and operators will allow it.
A bootloader is essentially a code that runs before any software or OS begins to run on a device upon booting the device and checks the hardware, such as the processor and motherboard before allowing the OS to initiate. Manufacturers usually lock the bootloader on a smartphone to prevent unauthorized tampering with the OS, software, or manufacturer-made customizations for the phone. It’s also a security measure to ensure that users enjoy the experience of the phone that either the OEM or the carrier had intended for.
With an unlocked bootloader, users then can create and install custom ROMs. For Motorola users who do not enjoy the MOTO BLUR user interface, those users can install a different version of the Android OS without MOTO BLUR or can even tweak and install a newer version of the Android operating system that was not released for the device.
Motorola’s move to unlock the bootloader follows Sony Ericsson’s move to appeasing the developer community.