These terms pop up when things don’t go right with the Android headunit.
The term is used to describe uploading and installing a different version of the operating system or MCU into an Android headunit. The manufacturer could supply this or any sources from the internet. A flash file that overwrites the existing firmware is written to the Android headunit.
Flash files could be sent OTA – over the air, usually by the manufacturer or in the classic form of a download file. This file may need to be unpacked/unzipped or not; add the file to a USB memory stick and invoke the flashing process.
Problems with flashing? Overwriting without a current backup means a failure could be permanent.
Rooting gives the Android operating system user-level full ROOT-level access. Some Android headunits already have ROOT access, pre-rooted, and others don’t. You may want to root your Android headunit when one of the apps you need requires root.
ROOT is a security concern for rogue apps but less of an issue on an Android headunit (because it isn’t your phone).
Modding is modifying the Android software on the headunit that goes beyond installing apps. The mods are flashed to the head unit and change the files present. This can alter the way the headunit looks or works or both. You will often find that modding is mentioned when the headunit won’t do what you want. This may be due to a manufacturing fault or just the way it was made to operate.
Modding comes with the same warnings as flashing because modding needs flashing, and they have the same pitfalls.
If you want to learn more about the tools needed to flash, mod, or root the Android headunit, we have two resources that are a gold mine of information.
XDA Developers Forums
The XDA Developers forum has a dedicated area for Android head units. Many members share their problems, but the best resources are experienced members that provide modded flash files for users to try.
There is a lot of information on XDA. Much of it is very technical, but you can learn much by reading the posts rather than just the first and then the last. There are no ‘one-click solutions’ there, and XDA takes a lot of reading and understanding.
The droid developers’ site is a vast collection of anything that is Android. A small section of this enormous resource contains information about the Android headunits, but it requires some searching. Current topics on droid developers that may interest include SP Flash Tools For All MTK Devices or MTK droid tools, and Download the Latest Version that can create the mysterious scatter files. If you want to learn more about the android ‘behind the scenes,’ the nuts and bolts of Android modding, droid-developers is a great place to visit.
Some good advice
If you are plunging into modding, flashing, or just rooting your Android headunit, then be aware that turning the device from ‘working’ to ‘not working’ is very easy. But making the device from ‘not working’ to ‘working’ is virtually impossible in most cases of failed flashes.