Magisk, the Android modding tool, is still with us

Aug 30, 2021
Apps, Google, Google Android, Mobile Computing

Magisk is well-known as one of the best Android modding tools available. However, after its creator John Wu was hired by Google in May, the future of the app was unsure. John Wu has updated his medium site earlier today, confirming that the open-source tool will continue development, with some changes, though.

Magisk is a useful tool for users who have bought an Android smartphone without a custom ROM community. It would've been terrible if the app was laid to waste. However, Wu has officially received Google's blessing to proceed with managing this Magisk project. This is a very big deal, as certain aspects of the program could be considered a conflict of interest.

One of the most notable elements that pose a conflict is the MagiskHide tool. This tool allows mods of an Android device’s core software to go unnoticed by system tools and applications. This tool is used to mod phones without losing access to secure apps such as certain games and banking tools. This is, unfortunately, one of the tools that will be abandoned entirely.

Magisk, the Android modding tool, is still with us

Wu reported that it just does not make sense for him to continue developing this aspect of the app. As a Googler, he now has access to almost all of Google's source codes, and after speaking to other related teams, it is just too much of a conflict of interest for him to continue developing that aspect.

It is important to note that the open-source format of Magisk allows other developers to use the code and create their own version of the tool without any of Wu's contributions or involvement. Similar tools are already available. The only portion of the MagiskHide tool that will remain is the ability for users to set up a denylist that will keep Magisk from interfering with specific applications.

Wu has also reported that he no longer has the time to continue managing the Magisk Module repository. The repository will be removed from the app and replaced with a GitHub web-based solution run by members of the Magisk community.

The last release of Magisk was in May 2021 and was release version 23.0. With the number of changes that Wu has reported will be made, it could mean we will have to wait a while before seeing the next update.

Closing words

Magisk is one of the best Android modding tools available, and it is a relief to know that it will continue to be developed despite the creator now working directly for Google. We may even see more improvements coming this way. I look forward to seeing how this app continues to develop under Wu's continued involvement.

Magisk, the Android modding tool, is still with us
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Magisk, the Android modding tool, is still with us
John Wu confirmed that the open-source tool will continue development, with some changes thanks to Google's blessing.
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  1. Anonymous said on August 31, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    That’s what happens when you depend on apps for banking. You let the bank track you. Now you’re also wanting Google to have your data?!

  2. Anonymous said on August 31, 2021 at 12:47 am

    To those who complain: why are you using apps that refuse to work on YOUR device? I’m looking at you, Google Pay users?

    1. Harro Glööckler said on August 31, 2021 at 8:26 am

      Ever tried to live normally in the 2020s? Bank apps for confirming transactions are mandatory nowadays; try to pay any bill, buy anything with a credit card or just transferring money to a friend without having to confirm it millions of times with the bank’s app you’re not allowed to run on a rooted device.

      Thanks to the EU’s useless new 2021 directives, there’s even more wasting of time in the name of security – if you want to pay a bill on your computer, you need to:
      1. run the bank’s mobile app
      2. enter a pin
      3. hurry to write down a 8-digit otp that expires in 30s
      4. enter your bank access password
      5. hurry with paying the bill because it logs you out after 1min of inactivity
      6. run a another mobile app that was made just for clicking yes or no for “do you want to pay xx€ to xyz?” to confirm the transaction
      7. enter another pin
      8. confirm the transaction
      9. done
      You may ask why not pay the bill directly inside the mobile app -> because it’s not supported. The crap is a wannabe Venmo/Cashapp copy that supports just sending money to people inside your phonebook and generating an otp for logging into internet banking.

      Before EU’s nosy behavior you could do the same with:
      1. select your personal digital certificate when opening the banking website
      2. enter your bank access password
      3. pay the bill
      4. in some very rare cases confirm it with a 6-digit otp you received via sms that’s valid for 5 mins
      5. done

      Basically the EU forced us having bank apps because 4096 bit rsa personal certificates are apparently less secure than 4-digit app pins.

      1. Thomas said on August 31, 2021 at 9:27 pm

        Almost every bank I know still has an alternative solution like SMS (that’s insecure but still allowed in the EU) or a TAN device.

        I use GrapheneOS without Google Play Services and the 2 banks where I have my accounts have an app that runs without issues despite my phone not even having support for Safetynet. There is also nothing in their terms and conditions that would cause any issues.

        It’s absolutely possible to switch to a different bank (which the EU made way easier just a few years ago btw) or by switching to a different verification method which almost all banks offer.

      2. Ultimate firewall said on August 31, 2021 at 3:18 pm

        Also, it’s important that you don’t sign in to a Google account on this phone. To get and update these apps get Aurora Store from F-droid’s open source.
        Then you can anonymously access google’s play store and Aurora will update those apps just like play store.

        Put absolutely nothing on this phone that isn’t essentially necessary to accomplish each task; no contact, no phone numbers, no nothing, clean.

      3. Ultimate firewall said on August 31, 2021 at 3:06 pm

        Put your banking and other apps that require Google services on a separate cheap prepaid phone, but never activate it. Cheap carrier locked prepaid phones are very cheap and will work fine for this purpose.
        Just connect it to your work/home wifi, or hook it to your DeGoogled phone’s hotspot or USB tether (hostspot is the easiest).
        Ultimate workable firewall to poke Google in their all-seeing eye.

  3. Freeman said on August 30, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    Yeah well, the only reason I use custom roms is that there are quite a few of them that separate the rom and gapps. That’s gold. A google-free phone is a good phone. It’s not like I pay my bills 24/7 and my only means to use the internet is one phone, so I don’t give a damn about if it runs a banking program or not. Also, there are gazillions of great apps that do not need google services for anything either.. yes, I am old and boring, but at least I know how to get from A to B without google maps or gps, I have these weird things called “eyes” in my head. So yeah, my phone is better than yours. Period.

  4. Franck said on August 30, 2021 at 6:43 pm

    Great news! Thanks Shaun!

  5. Anonymous said on August 30, 2021 at 5:35 pm

    Never mind, my Librem 5 is on its way… Maybe I could dig out my ol’ Blackberry.

  6. foolishgrunt said on August 30, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    If my understanding is correct, MagiskHide has been pretty much useless for newer (and even new-ish) phones ever since SafetyNet enabled hardware attestation a year or two back. That was a pretty serious loss, but nothing John Wu could do about it. The fact that he has decided to stop supporting the feature altogether now does nothing to increase my sadness.

    1. Anonymous said on August 31, 2021 at 1:54 am

      I miss the old days of smartphones. New smartphones are becoming more lock down and useless. I might as well go back to a flip phone.

  7. Nuff Said said on August 30, 2021 at 5:04 pm

    What the Android modding community fails to understand is although they can hack their phones so that they are not being spied on, until a critical mass of ordinary users can easily access DeGoogled phones, the modders loss of privacy and loss of ability to mod their devices is just delayed. The only way to pull Google’s teeth is open up DeGoogled phones to other than digital locksmiths.

    They need to assure that some current entry level phones can be modded by mere mortals. The simpler the better.
    Unlocked GSM and CDMA Moto E 2020 phones are $150.00 or less and the bootloaders are unlockable.

    1. ULBoom said on August 31, 2021 at 2:49 pm

      Still using my unlocked Moto E LTE. Cost all of $40 in 2016, mostly used for calls, texts and simple time killer games. Need a better, small phone for vid calls, the old E’s vga front camera makes you look like a zombie and android 5.1’s losing app support. I’ve made a lot changes, short of rooting it and it works fine for what it is beside zombiecam.

      The critical mass thing is very real, doing something as simple as installing AdGuard to our kids’ phones elicited OMG! reactions. Demand from the user side is the other half of the equation.

      One can get most of the way there with the comparatively basic stuff I do but most users, almost all, I’d say, are quite unaware of what can be done, afraid to change anything for fear something will break.

      1. Ultimate firewall said on August 31, 2021 at 3:33 pm

        ULBoom: “but most users, almost all, I’d say, are quite unaware of what can be done, afraid to change anything for fear something will break.”

        That’s why getting entry level phones DeGoogled is essential here. It’s a heck of a lot easier to take a risk of a screw up on a sub $100.00 dollar phone, than it is on your new flagship phone.

  8. Jeff M.S. said on August 30, 2021 at 4:52 pm

    So the title should be Magisk Hide, the most important module after rooting to hide root from apps is dying.

  9. Nuff Said said on August 30, 2021 at 4:50 pm

    How nice… Now Google has effective control of the project.
    Hopefully some others will fork this project and restart the MagiskHide tool. The worse that could happen is Google will hire them too.
    Would also be nice to have an Android/AOSP tool to automatically remove GAPPS from our property so we can use alternative that don’t spy on us by default and without recourse.

  10. g. said on August 30, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    After a botched LineageOS upgrade my phone stopped passing googles security measures and I lost the ability to use Google Pay. Hide is the only reason I even installed Magisk, so I could continue to pay with my phone. This is sad news.

  11. JV said on August 30, 2021 at 3:55 pm

    So in short, Googly bought Wu out.

  12. Jeff said on August 30, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    Without the Hide feature Magisk is useless. I hope another dev picks up development.

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