Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean
Make your Android device more powerful by rooting it. SamMobile

The Android platform has been recognized as the more “open” operating system when compared to Apple’s iOS, but Android isn’t as open as it seems. Cydia creator Jay Freeman told IBTimes in an email that the Android ecosystem is essentially closed thanks to hardware developers.

"Android as a developer platform is also not open: Just like with Apple, you have to confine yourselves to little boxes,” Freeman said. “Yes, anyone can write an app, and you don't have to tell Google -- well, again, most phones are closed from this freedom, as Android isn't open -- but can you modify the lock screen? Can you change the status bar? No. You can't do these things, because Android doesn't offer a way to do them, any more than Apple does. The only things you can do on Android devices that is more flexible than 'an app' are one, launchers, two, keyboards, and three, widgets.”

With the new iOS 6.1 untethered jailbreak tool Evasi0n making headlines in recent weeks, can Android users achieve a similar level of customization? It's easy when you know how to "root."

Wikipedia defines "Android rooting" as "the process of allowing users of smartphones, tablets and other devices running the Android mobile operating system to attain privileged control (known as "root access") within Android's subsystem." In other words, it opens up the operating system for full customization.

Rooting your phone allows you to overclock the processor, which increases the smartphone or tablet’s performance and makes the operating system faster and more responsive. A great app in the Google Play store called SetCPU for Root Users, can, among other things, help boost performance by increasing the voltage and frequency of the processor. As smartphones age, they slowly decline in speed and performance, but this $2 app is certainly cheaper than buying a new device.

Rooting has some disadvantages too -- for instance, it voids a phone’s warranty -- but the customization produced by rooting your Android device could outweigh the negatives. Google has no problem with users tinkering with the Android OS as much as they want, but manufacturers are hesitant, citing security concerns.

Those concerns aside, for those with sensitive and private information on their smartphones, rooting a device can actually help increase the phone’s security. Avast! Mobile Security and Cerberus Anti Theft are two apps in the Google Play store that can help improve the security of Android devices. Avast! uses a firewall that monitors network traffic, adding another layer of protection for your phone, while Cerberus protects against device theft with an automatic GPS function that tracks the device's location. Cerberus, in particular, cannot be uninstalled from a rooted Android device, which makes it easier to track the phone if it's ever lost or stolen.

Rooting has a number of other benefits beyond just personalizing your device: Rooting your phone allows you to remove unnecessary apps that carriers force onto Android users, apps that cannot be removed without access to the root menu. An app called Titanium Backup, available in the Google Play store, utilizes the root function to allow users complete access to installed software. Using Titanium Backup, you can get rid of those pesky apps that take up space on your device’s storage and on the screen.

As Betanews says, the benefit of rooting your Android device means that it is no longer bound by the restrictions hardware manufacturers implement on various Android devices. Rooting is very similar to jailbreaking: They both add the ability for users to do what they want and tweak or fix whatever issues they have with their operating system at any time.