The beauty about Android is its open architecture and customisability. The platform’s active, rich developer community enables it to extend its feature set and customise the user experience. With myriad device makers out there with their own rendition of Google’s mobile OS, understandably there are some that offer great experiences and some just downright bad. That said, there are Android purists out there who prefer the pure stock Android experience, as Google intended.
The other beauty about Android is that it’s fairly easy to “flash” your device with a custom ROM, giving you a different experience from its original form. Of course, this highly depends on whether a device maker unlocks the device’s bootloader.
Tightening the grip
One device maker that has been “tolerant” of the developer community all this while is Huawei/honor. However, last month, the leading Chinese device maker dropped a bombshell by ending bootloader unlocking for all its devices. This means you will not be able to flash a custom ROM, kernel or do any other modification to the device.
According to XDA-Developers, the page for generating bootloader unlock codes was pulled in early May. Huawei posted a brief announcement after the abrupt retraction:
“To provide better user experience and avoid issues caused by ROM flashing, the unlock code application service will be stopped for all products launched after 2018-5-24. For products released prior to this date, the service will be stopped 60 days after this announcement.
Thank you for your understanding. We will continue to provide you with quality services.”
This means old devices have about a month left to get their bootloader unlock codes, while new devices will never be eligible.
An unlocked bootloader allows users to install TWRP, flash custom ROMs, and get root access. Without bootloader unlock codes, devices essentially become useless for developers.
For now, you can sign up for a bootloader unlock code via a Google Doc. Huawei says there’s a turnaround time of about 24 hours from when you submit the code request. Huawei has stopped accepting requests for codes.
Sorry for kicking this post off on a grim note, but I can assure you there’s some ray of light. Read on.
Move over, EMUI, here comes AOSP
So, here’s the deal. Emotion UI or EMUI, for short. Huawei and honor’s own take on Android. For the most part, it offers a plethora of features not available on stock Android. It’s heavily modified, and whether you love it or hate it depends on individual tastes and preferences. I, for one, am not a fan of EMUI, and I personally think it needs a big revamp, just like what Samsung did to TouchWIZ and HTC to HTC Sense.
For those who love Huawei/honor hardware but hate the EMUI experience, there’s now an alternative.
A team of awesome developers calling themselves OpenKirin makes AOSP-based custom ROMs for Huawei/honor devices. Previously, the team’s work with the platform was difficult due to the complexity working with HiSilicon Kirin devices.
AOSP, short for Android Open Source Project is a project led by Google that features an open source software stack for a wide range of mobile devices.
However, thanks to Google’s Project Treble, it has made their work simpler and made it easier to support more devices.
The team has launched a new website dedicated to support all EMUI 8-based Huawei/honor devices. The project currently supports 17 devices.
AOSP-based ROMs that work with the devices include LineageOS (which we’ve recently installed on the ZTE Axon 7), CarbonROM, and Resurrection Remix.
Read to flash?
If you’re brave and want to give it a shot, you can download the ROMs from this link. Flashing instructions are also included. You’ll need to install fastboot, or TWRP on your PC or Mac before you can start flashing.
As mentioned earlier, Huawei is stopping the unlock code application service for its devices. You have until 22 July 2018 to request a bootloader unlock code.
Keep in mind that flashing a custom ROM will void your device warranty, and you’re doing this at your own risk.
I’m trying this on the honor 8 Pro, and will be testing our LineageOS and Resurrection Remix.
What do you think? Are you excited about the development?