First of all, I'm a brand new baby in the world of Android. After hearing myself complain about Apple and their seeming lack of any concrete direction for their less and less intuitive iPhone/iOS, I finally jumped ship. Without doing a whole lot of research, I opted for the S4 Active. I've had my eye on the Galaxy models for a couple of years now, and finally bought the waterproof/lifeproof pitch in those S4 Active commercials. That, and I wanted something new.
So while there are countless Android message boards and forums, I thought I'd share a mega n00b's recently acquired knowledge about how to root (gain admin access) and de-bloat (strip out the bullshit AT&T/Samsung apps that come bundled with your phone) your S4 Active.
I repeat, I am not qualified to write/condone this. You may fuck up your phone and void the warranty if you do any of these things. I've more than likely oversimplified this, so be warned. If you like a controlled environment on your phone, as your service carrier intended, DON'T TOUCH IT. If you like a lawless, fuck the man environment where you get to control what apps exist and run in the background, even if it means risking functionality, see below.
Here's what I did:
Although the Active is a new version of the S4, it was quickly cracked by legendary hacker Geohot. That means you can now root your Active by visiting here on your phone. Go there, download the app, and run it. You might get a warning message telling you your settings don't allow it, but just modify your user settings.
Congratulations, your phone is now rooted. That means you now have the administrative authority to uninstall or freeze applications that you don't want running on your phone. For mac users, think of it this way: you've just upgraded your title from USER to ADMINISTRATOR.
Next: Download Titanium Backup from Google Play. Install it. Back up your phone.
Now you have a working backup in case you bork your phone as you try to zap bloatware and freeze apps you don't like (like the built-in Mail app, since the GMail app is way better).
From Titanium, you now have the power to uninstall all the crap apps that came built into your phone, hogging memory and bloat hogging your CPU.
You know, things like:
AT&T Drive Mode
A basic google search can give you some advice on what stuff you can kill without nuking your phone. It's all a matter of personal preference. Maybe you like having an app designed to send text messages to people when you're in your car so that AT&T can look like good guys in the eyes of the world for doing their darnedest to stop texting while driving. Or maybe you see through that horsepucky and want that crap off your phone forever. Your call. Zap what you don't need, and feel a wave of relief pour over you as you stick it to the CORPOS.
NOTE* You might need to freeze seandroid.apk from titanium as well, to get rid of an annoying popup message telling you your phone is doing bad things. (ignore it)
From here, the sky's the limit. There are plenty of apps in the Google Play store (the Android version of App Store/iTunes) designed for rooted phones, so go nuts.
I'm still figuring it all out, and since I've had an Android phone for all of a week, I am not the best resource when it comes to rooting your phone. In fact, I'm about the last person you want to listen to on pretty much anything.
However, this is the main info I was looking for when I first got my phone, so I thought I'd share it here.
Maybe some Android gurus can guide us with more accuracy and efficiency in the comments below. I welcome scorn, scoffing, and any other advice that will make my phone do cool shit.