A simple to use software to install custom Android ROMs, unlock bootloader and update your device.
1.5 billion smartphones are sold globally each year1 but an incalculable number are trashed, often even in the face of a short useful life: thesoftware obsolescence is responsible for the premature abandonment of a significant number of devices.
A ROM Android is an Android operating system image that is already installed or installable on a mobile device. Basically, a ROM is a package of files that contains the operating system along with other applications and files necessary for the device to function properly.
ROM stands for Read Only Memory (read-only memory): usually indicates a type of non-volatile memory in which data is stored through physical and stable electronic connections. In the case of Android, the term ROM is used to refer to an area for the data storage which normally should not be overwritten because it contains the operating system and system files.
As we highlighted in the article on the differences between ROM and internal memory, users can actually gain access to system partitions by doing unlocking the bootloader.
Third-party ROMs can be used to update Android to a newer version, install features that are not available in the original operating system release, or remove some of the customizations enabled by the manufacturer. In some cases it may not be safe to use an Android device that is no longer supported by the manufacturer – this is because you do not receive them security updates useful to fix critical vulnerabilities, some apps stop working and you can’t take advantage of the latest features added by Google.
The Custom ROMs they are often used by advanced users who wish to bring a smartphone no longer supported by the manufacturer back to life, with all the consequent advantages in terms of life cycle extension and reduction of WEEE waste.
On the other hand, installing a custom Android ROM can also come with risks, such as losing your warranty (that’s why it is recommended to do it when a product is no longer supported and would otherwise be destined to be shelved…) and the possibility of damaging the device (bricking) if the ROM is not properly applied.
In general, Android ROMs can be useful for customizing your device, improving performance, operating system features and getting back to receiving security updates. However, before installing a custom ROM on any Android terminal, it is essential to scrupulously follow the installation instructions.
Because it can be difficult to update the Android version installed on your smartphone
Dependence on the manufacturer. Most Android smartphones are manufactured by different companies using different customizations of the operating system.
When Google releases a new version of Android, each manufacturer must tailor the new version to its devices and make sure it works properly with the custom software loaded on the device. This is a time consuming and resource consuming process that not all manufacturers are able to provide timely and regular updates for all of their devices. And in fact the cheapest smartphones are usually abandoned to their fate (software obsolescence which we mentioned at the beginning).
Hardware limitations. Some versions of Android require specific hardware or newer, more advanced configurations – this means that some older devices cannot be upgraded to newer versions of Android due to hardware limitations.
Even the developers of alternative ROMs at some point still tend to abandon the support of older Android devices by refraining from releasing new updates.
User customizations. Many users personalize their smartphone with third-party apps, widgets and settings. Switching to an alternative Android ROM involves losing your smartphone configuration, apps and data stored therein.
Open Android Installer: Installing an Android ROM made easy
In the articles we have mentioned above, we have seen that theInstalling Android ROMs customized often proves to be a complex and error-prone process.
Open Android Installer is a solution that aims to overcome the obstacles that lead non-technicians not to install Android ROMs. Thanks to a graphical installation process, Open Android Installer guides the user through the installation of customized versions of Android such as LineageOS, Pixelexperience, Bliss Roms and many others.
Free and open source software, Open Android Installer supports all types of custom Android ROMs in addition to the recovery TWRP. In addition, it integrates in its package all the tools necessary for the flashing of the new ROM or the replacement of the version installed in the Android device: adb, fastboot e heimdall.
There are currently a few dozen Android devices supported by Open Android Installer but the project integrates an intelligent system of extensions which allows developers and engineers to add new devices to the list.
Open Android Installer looks like a regular desktop application that you can boot on systems Linux, Windows e macOS. While Windows and macOS are equally supported, the Open Android Installer developers suggest using a Linux distribution, preferably Ubuntu 20.04/22.04 LTS.
After starting the Open Android Installer, the application invites you to activate debug USB e OEM unlocking in Android Developer Options. It is therefore possible connect your Android smartphone via USB cable by providing permission for USB debugging.
The first screen of Open Android Installer also has an option to indicate to the program if you had already unlocked the bootloader.
You then need to verify that your device uses the Android version indicated, that the battery has at least 80% autonomy remaining and that all startup locks have been deactivated (PIN, graphic sequence, facial recognition, fingerprint recognition,…).
The following step involves selecting the ROM to install and the TWRP recovery.
The procedure continues with the automatic unlocking of the bootloader, the restart of the smartphone and the subsequent reactivation of USB debugging in the Developer options on Android.
The last step consists in flashing of the new ROM which is authorized simply by pressing a key.
The authors of Open Android Installer invite users to contribute to the improvement of the program: by reviewing the source code anyone can edit, improve and share it.
Instructions for extending the program’s capabilities and expanding support to other Android phones are posted on the Open Android Installer GitHub page.
However, the invitation is not addressed only to programmers: the home page of the project clearly explains how one can contribute to the growth of a promising initiative, particularly commendable also in terms ofdigital self-determinationthe right of individuals to have control over their personal data and online privacy and to use technology in an informed and responsible way.
1 The data on the number of smartphones sold in a year is taken from Sellcell.com (table “Total number of mobile phones sold worldwide each year by smartphone, non-smartphones/feature phones”).