Android 13 -- another big tech ploy designed to control YOUR hardware.


For the unaware, Android 13 has been released, and is rolling out to a few devices currently. Usually, Android updates come with actual benefits for security and privacy (and if not built-in on the Google-authorized Android release itself, those changes are usually in the underlying AOSP codebase); however Android 13 appears to be a step back when it comes to autonomy and control over your hardware and software.

Hardware controls

Even the oppressive iOS at least allows a window to downgrade to a prior version (albiet typically only for a day or two after the newest firmware's release-- unless you were forward thinking enough to dump device-specific SHSH blobs from your device prior to upgrading); meanwhile, for owners of Google's own Pixel 6 who opt to install Android 13, they can't roll-back to Android 12. As I'm reading around, its unclear if this can be worked around by unlocking the bootloader, however, the language in the articles makes it sound likely that it can't be worked around with an unlocked bootloader.

This signals a concerning, yet probable future for the hardware you purchase-- if Google can implement this sort of restriction on their own-brand devices, what's stopping Samsung, Motorola, or Xiaomi from doing the same? With the shift over the last few years to forceably lock-down bootloaders to prevent the installation of custom recovery environments and ROMs, it seems that manufacturers may exploit this as an opportunity to further lock down their devices.

That aside, the bootloader 'update' is to fix some sort of exploit-- however, even in the face of critical vulnerabilities, I don't think exerting absolute control over the owner's device is the right way to go about it, especially without any way to roll-back the bootloader.

Software controls

In the ever-evolving digital landscape, new exploits and vulnerabilities emerge on a daily basis, and I can understand placing advisory messages onscreen when activating settings which may enable attacker access to your device and its functions; however, outright restricting the access to those settings to app markets is a bit excessive in my honest opinion. There are legitimate uses for the restricted settings (accessibility access) with sideloaded apps-- be it healthcare provider applications which aren't in the Play Store, F-Droid, or any other store, an older version of an application like that, or, the unfathomable: the user wanting to use apps that simply aren't in application markets, or were sourced from an alternate source.

Copyright 2022, Econobox_ (d.b.a