Even with Nexus, Google has worked to ensure that its smartphones are as open as possible, giving their users the freedom to customize and do whatever they can with their devices. The tech company is again underscoring this principle when it confirmed that the Pixel smartphones will not only be bootable but they will also ship with an unlockable bootloader.
To the uninitiated, the bootloader serves as the door to root a mobile device. There are many people who do this because it effectively opens the phone to more functionalities. Now, most Android phones have bootloaders and a number of manufacturers actually support them. This means that, in most cases, using a bootloader to flash custom ROMS will not void the devices' warranty. Apple fans would probably find this surprising since jailbreaking their iOS devices is simply not allowed.
Now, here are some caveats with respect to rooting the Pixel smartphones. First, the bootloader will only be available to Pixel phones purchased directly from Google's store. Those sold by carriers will probably not enjoy the same perks. Verizon has already planted its foot down on this issue.
Second, once a Pixel phone is rooted, it will no longer enjoy the so-called seamless update feature that comes with Android Nougat. This entails a streamlined approach to the download and installation of over the air (OTA) updates. Previous Android versions usually begin with a notification, some user actions and long waiting period for the update to get downloaded, unpacked and installed. With seamless update, everything happens in the background. The system will merely inform the user that an upgrade is ready and will be implemented after a reboot. A user can no longer enjoy this feature if he roots his Pixel.
"Rooting involves modifying partitions on the phone," Iska Saric, a spokesperson for Google told Wonder How To. "If the partitions are modified the OTA will fail to apply."
Some observers, however, believe that the very active Android developer community could find a work around to this specific hurdle and that it will only be a matter of time before such solution surfaces.
Overall, fans are mollified that Google — despite assuming the mantle of an OEM company — is not closing the Pixel out. There are already grumblings from among the Nexus crowd that the phone is expensive and that Google seems determined on ensuring that the company is seemingly bent on imposing the kind of Google that it wants its Pixel users to experience.