It turns out that rooting the Kobo Vox is super-easy and takes all of about 3 minutes to complete, with half of that time waiting for it to reboot.
After rooting, installing the Android Market is fairly simple on the Kobo Vox as well. You just have to download a Google apps package and the free ES File Explorer app to move some of the Google apps to the system apps folder. Then add a Google account and the Android Market is good to go.
I followed the directions that are posted at MobileRead. But I did a couple of things differently as you’ll find from my directions below and I also put together a video tutorial showing the entire process from start to finish.
Follow these directions at your own risk. I’m not responsible if you break your Kobo Vox. And rooting usually voids the warranty so consider yourself forewarned.
Video: Rooting the Kobo Vox and Installing the Android Market
How to Root the Kobo Vox
This step is ridiculously simple; I wish rooting was always this easy.
1. First, make sure to enable third party application installs by going to Settings > Applications > and then check the box for Unknown sources.
2. Enable USB debugging by going to Settings > Applications > Development > and then check the box for USB Debugging.
3. Use the Kobo Vox’s web browser to download this GingerBreak 1.2 App (or sideload it if you are so inclined).
4. Once the app is finished downloading, open the notifications bar or go to the downloads folder and tap the GingerBreak app to install it.
5. After installing, click Open and then all you have to do is tap the big “Root” button. Don’t mind the SD card warning. GingerBreak will automatically root your Kobo Vox and then it will restart.
You know that rooting was successful if there’s a SuperUser app in the app drawer.
How to Install Android Market on Kobo Vox
1. Use the Kobo Vox’s web browser to download this Google Apps package (or sideload it if you want). It is version gapps-gb-20110828-signed.zip. I had trouble getting the download to work with the Vox’s browser in the video but I think that was because I’d already downloaded it earlier. If you have trouble just use a different browser or sideload it.
2. Download and install the ES File Explorer app. It’s free and can be had from pretty much any appstore. The link above directs to 1Mobile for the apk download with a web browser.
3. Open ES File Explorer. Hit the menu button to open the Settings menu. Scroll down and check the box for “Root Explorer“. You’ll have to confirm a couple of times as well as click “Allow” to grant ES File Explorer Superuser access. Then make sure to check the box for “Mount File System“.
4. Hit the back button to go back to folder view and then locate the folder where you placed the Google Apps pack download. If you used the Vox’s web browser it is located in the “download” folder. Once you’ve located the Google apps zip file, long-press it and then choose to Extract and then hit OK.
5. Now open the Google apps folder, then system, then app. You need to move some, but not all, of the app files within. Hit the “Select” button atop the ES File Explorer’s menu bar and then select only the following apps:
With the twelve apps above selected, tap the Copy button on the menu bar. Now you need to navigate to the proper folder to paste them.
6. Hit the “Favorites” button on the menu and then select the device with the / below it. Open the system folder, then app, and now you can hit the paste button to move all the files to the system/app folder. It will take it a little while before it says the move is complete.
7. After that’s finished, hit the menu button again and open the settings menu for ES File Explorer. Uncheck the box for “Mount File System”.
8. Power off the Kobo Vox and restart.
9. After reboot, open the Settings menu, Accounts & sync, and then add a Google account. Once it logs in, you are good to go. Now you can launch the Android Market located in the app drawer to download Android apps from Google.
How to Fix a Bricked Kobo Vox
If somehow your Kobo Vox is having major problems, try a factory reset by going to Settings > Privacy. If that doesn’t work, you can almost always fix the Kobo Vox no matter how screwed up it gets by interrupting the boot loop to force it to restore to factory by doing the following:
From a powered off state, turn the Kobo Vox on and as the Kobo logo appears, hold down the power button and volume + button until it shuts back off. Keep doing this several times. Don’t let it finish booting. Eventually it will automatically prompt to restore to factory settings. This is a full system restore, meaning the Kobo Vox will revert to its original firmware and you’ll likely have to update it again.