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Asus Transformer Prime gets Android 4.0, unlocked bootloader

The Asus Transformer Prime will be getting Ice Cream Sandwich on 12 January, with an unlocked bootloader en route.

Owners of the hard-to-type Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime have reason to be chuffed today, as Asus has confirmed that the Tegra 3-powered tablet will be getting an update to Android Ice Cream Sandwich on 12 January. 

Speaking through its Facebook page, the company said that an upcoming over-the-air update would also "improve the focus of the camera, the fluidity of the touch experience, and the APK capabilities in Android Market."

The other bit of good news is that Asus has decided to unlock the Transformer Prime's bootloader, which will make it possible for owners to customise the device, installing custom ROMs and otherwise tinkering with the Prime's innards.

Asus will be releasing an 'unlock tool' for the modding community, though there's a caveat -- the company states that if you choose to unlock your device, it will void the tablet's warranty.

Asus explained its decision to lock the bootloader in the first place, saying that it's because of "content providers' requirement for DRM client devices to be as secure as possible". As such, if you unlock your tablet, you'll also be denied access to Google video rental.

Nevertheless, the move is a victory for those who were vehemently protesting Asus' locked-down approach. There's no word yet on when exactly that unlock tool will appear though.

The Taiwanese company noted that "based on our experience, users who choose to root their devices risk breaking the system completely." If you do fancy a spot of tinkering, make sure you know what you're doing first.

The ability to go a bit mad-scientist is one of Android's main selling points, and makes Google's operating system more appealing than Apple's for those who love to customise their gear. If manufacturers start employing these tampering locks as standard, will it harm Android in the long run? Tell us what you think in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.

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