HTC Allows Customers to Unlock Its Phones

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HTC has decided to stick with Google and continue running Android on its best phones, even with Google’s recent purchase of one of HTC’s main competitors, which has made HTC decide to follow a trend started by Samsung this week of making it easier for people to mess with Android.

While Samsung hired the founder and chief developer of the most popular Android-modification firmware, in what Samsung says will “Make Android more awesome.”

Google has been trying to keep Android more locked down lately, in addition to buying Motorola for what is believed to stave off potential patent-trolling from Motorola. The purchase is expected to produce a huge shift in the smartphone market, although no one is quite sure in what way.

While Samsung was a bit grand scale, HTC is going to take it slow by fulfilling promises it made earlier in the year to deliver bootloader unlock tools for many of its most popular Android phones. The software will allow owners to get access to the operating system and system software protected as firmware on the phones and allows them to toy around as much as they want.

Most carriers keep the customers from messing with the OS, mostly to reduce support costs and keep the phones’ links to the cell network from being corrupted, but also to prevent customers from adding third-party developed software that companies would rather supply themselves for a hefty price.

HTC views unlocked OSes as a way to encourage both ISVs owners to get more involved in developing apps and mods for the phones. HTC did investigate whether it should build its own operating system to compete with Android just as Samsung had done, but decided to stick with Android because of the size and activity level of developers and owners already in the market.

“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,” HTC CEO Peter Chou told Dow Jones Newsires during an interview.

The first device that can use the bootloader will be the EVO 3D. It only works on software version 2.08.651.2 and above, so some users may have to go through the carriers’ process of firmware update before using it. EU versions of the HTC Sensation got the update earlier.

The bootloader and more detailed instructions for using it are posted at the HTC developer’s site HTCDEV.


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Andrew Wilson
Andrew has been poking and prodding computers for 11 years who occasionally writes about Technology and Video Games while working towards getting his Bachelors in Computer Engineering. He is also one of the contributors to the Let's Play's on the site.