Ok, I know the majority of you out there will not want to root your devices. Or will not even know what rooting means. But, I do believe there is a growing group of you that do want to gain control over your own devices for any number of reasons. Maybe to get the newest features of Android (Ice Cream Sandwich for instance). Or maybe to get rid of all the bloatware (Sprint–I am looking at you with your NASCAR apps). Or maybe just for the fun of tinkering.
Whatever the reason, an Open Source (or pseudo open source) operating system like Android allows you to do that, and for that reason alone, I will keep with them over Apple.
So what do you do when you want to root? It really does not take much. I recently wanted to root my Samsung Tablet. I have the 10.1″ wifi model. I wanted to see the Cyanogenmod ice cream sandwich port. For many reasons, but just because I wanted the newest thing. So the first thing you need to do with any device, phone, tablet, etc, is to find a way to root it. I found a GREAT guide at XDA Developers (http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1239185) that talked me through it, step by step. After this, I had root. the ability to do many of the things with my tablet that I could not before. I still had the default operating system it came with. For that, I began hunting. I tried Cyanogenmod 9, the ICS port (http://download.cyanogenmod.com/?device=p4wifi), but did not have much luck. Very buggy, as it is just an alpha nightly release. So we will revisit that. I tried a few ROMs (custom spins of an operating system) and finally decided on Overcome (http://galaxytabhacks.com/category/galaxy-tab-10-1-roms/). It keeps a lot of the stock features, like the blue menu buttons at the bottom. After an update, Samsung inexplicably changed those to boring buttons, so I like having blue back.
Why do I root and flash new roms? Sometimes just because I can. I like to tinker. I like to get rid of the bloatware. I like to optimize my equipment. But I also want to explore to see if we can build our own ROMs for our schools so we can flash them with the apps and settings we want to keep consistent. More will come from that, but that is a very elusive goal we want to get to. It will help professional development of use and technical support if all tablets are the same.