Every so often, a lone software developer’s skills and dedication eventually gets noticed by some big company who then swoops up said developer, making an offer they almost can’t refuse. Every so often, however, that also means that the developer no longer has time or opportunity to work on the thing that earned them that fame. Sometimes, however, things get even trickier because of potential conflicts of interests, a situation that may face the Android rooting community now that Magisk’s developer is now working for Google.
Android rooting, which is called jailbreaking on iPhones, has always been a grey area. On a technical level, there shouldn’t be any restrictions to gaining superuser or root privileges considering Android’s Linux roots. That said, due to the rather complicated nature of mobile devices, Android opted for a system where gaining such access is tantamount to exploiting bugs in the operating system.
That is exactly what rooting does, even with the newer Magisk utility. It is then both surprising and reasonable that its developer John Wu caught Google’s attention and he has now announced that he will joining the company’s Android Platform Security team. In other words, he will be working with the people his project has been trying to thwart, not out of malice, of course.
The conflict wasn’t lost on netizens, of course, and they wondered what would happen to Magisk moving forward. Wu initially said he still had the flexibility to work on his existing projects but the tweet saying that has seemingly disappeared.
That said, Magisk is open source so it is possible for anyone with enough knowledge, skill, and patience to take it up or fork it in the worst-case scenario. Hopefully that won’t be the case but given how Android security works, it might also be in the interest of the majority of Android users if someone as talented as Wu was working to strengthen it against those with less than innocent intentions.