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Motorola opens locks to allow customisation on smartphones and tablets

Motorola has finally jumped on board the customisation train and is now allowing owners of four of its devices – two smartphones and two tablets – to unlock their bootloaders. The move paves the way for users to install custom ROMs on their products, third-party standalone variants of the operating system that often come with new features, tweaks, and customisations.

The two smartphones Motorola's opening up for unlocking are the Photon Q and the RAZR developer edition; the two tablets are the Xoom (3G version) and the Xoom Wi-Fi.

While the unlocking process is relatively simple, interested owners will first need to grab themselves a copy of the Android SDK, the Fastboot utility, and Motorola's USB drivers. The company's spelled out the entire process on a scary-looking, but informative series of Web pages.

By scary-looking, we mean that Motorola quite clearly states – in bold type, no less – that it, "strongly recommends against unlocking the bootloader and/or modifying or altering a device's software or operating system."

"Doing so can have unintended, unforeseen, and dangerous consequences, such as rendering the device unusable, violating applicable laws, or causing property damage and/or bodily injury," adds Motorola, conjuring up the image of one's tablet exploding into dust the moment the bootloader unlocks.

Additionally, unlocking the bootloader voids one's warranty with a Motorola smartphone or tablet. And, warns Motorola, the company is no longer responsible if you should find yourself with a bricked device after all of your fiddling.

The unlocking process also blanks one's device, nuking all installed applications and content – a useful fact and reminder that one should likely back up the content on a device prior to running the unlocking process.

Other than that, Motorola's bootloader unlocking tool is fairly straightforward. What's not quite as clear, however, is what devices – if any – might join the aforementioned unlock-friendly smartphones and tablets, and when Motorola might expand its unlocking tool to cover these additional products.