Few developers on the XDA forums are as well-known as John Wu, the creator of Magisk. Under his alias topjohnwu, the developer spent years developing the open-source root injection tool, superuser management app, and systemless modding framework. In the middle of 2019, he joined Apple as an intern to work on the company’s Siri Core Platform team before he was hired full-time in early 2020 to work on the Machine Translation team. Now, John Wu is making a big change in his career: He’s leaving Apple to join Google, the company that develops the very OS he’s helped millions achieve root access on.
John Wu told us that he is joining Google’s Android Platform Security Team, the team that is responsible for securing the Android OS from vulnerabilities. Google each month publishes an Android Security Bulletin that identifies all vulnerabilities in Android’s framework, Android’s Linux Kernel fork, and closed-source vendor components that Google and its partners have discovered and made patches for. As Google develops new versions of Android, the company works to ensure that new vulnerabilities aren’t introduced and that safe development practices are followed. The Android OS is used on over 2.5 billion devices worldwide, so it’s necessary for Google to have an entire team dedicated to beefing up its security.
Given his background, John joining Google seems like a natural progression in his career. Developing and maintaining Magisk requires a deep understanding of many aspects that relate to Android security, such as the boot process, verified boot, SafetyNet, etc. There’s a potential conflict of interest in continuing to work on a project that can make Android phones less secure while also working to improve the overall security of the OS, but John says he was given the green light to continue working on existing projects (like Magisk)! Since Magisk is open source, anyone can technically contribute to it, but the project’s complexity weeds out anyone without a deep technical understanding of Android and Linux.
Back in 2019, we were surprised to hear that John had joined Apple, but we’re not surprised to hear him land a job at Google. We are surprised (and, of course, overjoyed) to hear that he’s allowed to contribute to Magisk while working at Google. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Magisk, I recommend reading this Reddit post from John Wu himself.
I’m given the flexibility to continue working on existing projects, so I expect things to remain mostly the same as it was for the community 😀
— John Wu (@topjohnwu) May 17, 2021