28
Sep
cm

Since CyanogenMod became Cyanogen Inc., we've been anticipating a quick and easy CM Installer that would make flashing to the "CyanogenMod experience" fast, simple, and less "hideous" than the current process.

The CM team is currently canvassing G+ for usability testers, with the stated goal of taking the process of installing third-party ROMs (specifically CyanogenMod) and streamlining it, making it less intimidating and more accessible to more users.

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After running through the installation process for myself, I can confirm that it does just that. The process is exceedingly straightforward, requiring just a few interactions along the way. Let's take a closer look.

The Android App

The CyanogenMod Installer app is dead simple, and looks great to boot. Weighing just 105KB in its current form, the app will guide you through switching on PTP mode, then referring you to beta.get.cm (which is currently password-protected for testing).

Screenshot_2013-09-28-11-06-28 Screenshot_2013-09-28-11-06-34 Screenshot_2013-09-28-11-06-41

Once you're there, you'll download the PC installer package.

The Windows App

So far, the PC side of the installer is only available for Windows. The CM team has indicated that a Mac version will follow, with a Linux version planned if there's enough demand. Like its Android counterpart, the Windows app is super simple to use. Basically, you just need to download the installer package, let it download recovery files, the appropriate CM ROM, and system applications, and plug in your device.

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The app will do the rest, rebooting, loading, and flashing everything you'll need. Most of your time during this process will be spent watching various progress bars come and go.

The Overall Process

Interaction across the Windows and Android apps is at an absolute minimum (click a few buttons, let your phone know you do in fact want to unlock the bootloader) and that's a good thing.

Currently, going from stock to flashing a custom ROM is easy enough for those willing to spend some time learning about it, but the process leaves a lot to be desired in terms of user experience. CyanogenMod's goal here was to keep things simple, and so far they've succeeded brilliantly with the CM Installer.

I shot a quick video of the process (editing down to exclude download time). Check it out below (I apologize in advance for my Vaio sounding as if it's going to blast off into space).

Final Thoughts

It's worth keeping in mind that the installer is still in beta. As super simple as it was for me, some members of the testing group are reporting a few issues, mostly with drivers – but that's good. Cyanogen Inc. obviously wants to get this installer right before it's released. If its current state is anything to judge by, it's going to sparkle when it's finally made more widely available.

Right now, the list of devices allowed to use the app is fairly short, constrained to those devices CM has in-house, though testers with different devices are encouraged to speak up, as the team "can likely enable [other devices] pretty easily."

If you're itching to try the installer yourself, indicate your interest on Koushik Dutta's G+ post linked below.

Koushik Dutta on Google+

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • http://www.suburbankid.tk Terence Wang

    This is actually pretty amazing.

  • GutterIsATool

    One thing CM needs to do if they want to be more general consumer friendly is start using the commercial phone names instead of the development codenames/model numbers.

    • Anthony Restaino

      It may be difficult since there are so many versions of each device and saying "Galaxy S4" technically refers to at least a couple different models that require different software, but yeah, I agree.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        Their wiki already uses commercial phone names, so it's definitely possible. For example, http://wiki.cyanogenmod.org/w/Serranoltexx_Info says Galaxy S4 Mini (International LTE).

      • vs8

        Simple :

        Galaxy S4:
        AT&T
        Sprint
        Verizon
        International
        Etc

        LG G2
        AT&T
        Sprint
        Verizon
        International

        So on, so on

        • thebrit

          But there's a problem. What about the T-Mobile galaxy s3. There's 2 versions LTE and hspa

          • vs8

            Carries, complicating things just for their amusement. :P

          • Jonathan Ray Pereira

            Simple : i9505 i9500 ... Those model no. never change ... if they use that and indeed they do, in some places ...

        • My name is….

          And international users?

      • Ark

        What's funny is that they already name them as that. Hover your mouse over the codes on get.cm.

        • palf91

          Should be the other way around.

          • someone755

            Not. I know my device codename, but I don't know which of the gazillion GS3 models it is. AT&T? Oh no wait, it's international. Now just gotta pick one from the hundreds available...

          • BrokenPencil

            Could be. Maybe you come out with your own rom and do this for us :) We'd appreciate it very much...

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I've been saying that for years.

    • eduardomori

      Have they created new ringtones? Last time I used CyanogenMod, the default ringtone was terrible. And the default wallpaper gallery was bad. They need to make it look more professional.

      • vs8

        Yes. I agree with you.
        They are great developers and all, but they are no designers. They need designers on their team.

        The CM accounts setup process looks hideous too.

    • thtechnologist

      I believe that they can poll the hardware for the exact model number, simple to translate to a device name after that.

    • Ixil

      I bet that will happen soon.

  • EH101

    While something I'd never personally use, this would be great to point my less tech savvy friends and colleagues to at least get them on the custom side of things. Walking them through flashing a different rom through recovery would be dead simple.

    As a side note: I though Cid would eventually grow on me, but that thing is still hideous. Can't wait until they finally change their mascot again. (wishful thinking, probably)

    • Pyrotek85

      Agreed, he still looks like an alien or something to me.

  • Doug

    Cool! Does the app root your phone for you too? I know I was nervous about bricking the first time I rooted an Android phone. I feel like that's the part which scares people the most. If this app roots and flashes, running CM shouldn't take more than a few minutes!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Root is not needed for this to work on the existing ROM.

      As for the outcome, right now CM comes pre-rooted, but in the future it'll have two variants: pre-rooted and unrooted.

      • Carlos Rodríguez

        That's what I was about to ask.

        AFAIK, the rooted version doesn't have the Google apps installed and it never will.

        Cheers!

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Correct. Even the unrooted one won't, because gapps are licensed to OEMs, not software developers, so the only way we'll see bundled gapps is for things like Oppo N1 CM edition.

      • Ark

        Doesn't it still have the "give root access to apps" option somewhere in the settings?

  • Martim

    What really needs to be added to the installer is the ability to restore your apps and settings. As far as I could tell, the installer only installs a fresh version of CM, forcing the user to lose everthing on their phone.

    If this is going to work for the average user, it needs to be a seemless and carefree experience, and losing all your data is anything but carefree. And that includes things like automatically starting up all the apps on first boot so that they can continue to receive notifications. (An app can only start running in the background after it's run for the first time.

    • Kcls

      Oops, I just commented the same thing below. Yeah, a lot of my friends are against romming their phones because they think they'll lose their data. CM needs to implement a good system for this if they want it to become mainstream.

      • Layman76

        Really, all they need is Titanium Backup.

        • http://mobers.org/ psydex

          It's not the same. They still need to setup system settings as prefered.

        • Ali Kazmi

          -_- titanium backup left my cm11 in an inconsistent state after i restored my apps and data from the previous (almost stock) touchwiz i had running on my s4-i9505 -_-...had to wipe the data partition from the boot loader and ended up installing all my apps from the play store...obviously, the data is gone because of which i had half a mind to re-flash touchwiz from the nandroid backup...luckily i decided against it ;-)

    • Peacen1k

      I confirm that it is the pain and time required for restoration of my data and setup that keeps me from trying out other roms from the one I had originally installed to get my i777 to work right.

      • Kcls

        Heck I'm still on 4.2 on my N4 because I dread having to back everything up and wipe and restore everything to get to 4.3.

        • disqus_bJs1wcxaNy

          why do you need to wipe to install 4.3?

          • Kcls

            I'm on a custom ROM.

          • That Android Guy

            Exactly. You should be able to get the zip that is specific for your ROM and phone and install it. My ROM (CM 10.1) gives me OTA updates like a normal phone.

          • Ali Kazmi

            try using one of the unofficial cm ports from xda, some of them don't have such a clear update path and tell you to wipe data and clear dalvik and cache before installing the update :-)

    • Ark

      That's not as simple as it sounds. If you're changing android versions, you can't just import data+app, you'll get a million force closes.

      • David Li

        simply clear cache, you don't get a million force closes from ota updates
        and koush had already mastered adb backup with helium

      • Darrien Glasser

        Hmm, Koush just so happens to have made Helium...

    • Jenniffer Smith

      Totally agree. I've been pulling my hair out today. Got the bootloader unlocked. Lost all data and the root went wrong.
      Spent all day putting stuff back. I'm used to rooting but I'm sick of the current situation, esp wiping the device

  • Ivan

    So you don't need to download rom on your phone, and you don,t need SD card? Am i right? I never flashed rom before.. Please someone to explain, maybe this will be my first custom rom :-) Do I need to root before I flash it now? :-) Thanks

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Correct. It does it all for you. You don't need an SD card now either if you use adb sideload.

      • Ivan

        Tkank you for the reply :-)) Then I will try it on my Note 2 :-)))) Let's hope everything will be Ok :-)))

        • Mark

          Don't forget to back up everything though! This installs a clean version of CM, so you'll want to back up any apps and settings.

          • ivan

            Thank you man, it's nice to see there are still good people who want to help you! ill back up everything :-)

        • Adrian Zugaj

          You'll be fine! Once you're on AOSP though, you'll find that you might be missing some Samsung features so I'm gonna help you out real quick.

          Papyrus - SNote replacement app
          GMD SPen Control - Brings back Spen gestures (configurable, and better than CM's implementation)
          SPen Board Switcher - Changes your keyboard depending on whether or not your Spen is in it's holder (get it from XDA, it's not on the Play Store. A quick google search will find it). You also need root, which apparently this installer does NOT grant you.

          • Ivan

            Thank you man, it's nice to see there are still good people who want to help you! :-)

  • Kcls

    I think before they make this available to all is have a way for users to backup their apps, or recommend a way to do so, like helium. A lot of users will be weary of the "Factory Reset" aspect and won't want to use this.

    • Grimmjow

      They need Google certification to be able to do that - Play Store.

    • Royal2000H

      wary*

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Good point. Right now the app makes it very clear that everything will be deleted, but doesn't really offer any advice on backing up.

  • Matt Sokolinski

    what about gapps ?? I know google will charge for having Playstore and other Gservices preinstalled on the device.... (for that reason gapps are separate) are they available to download via the installer ??

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Surprisingly, gapps were actually present. I'm not sure right now how this works, but I'm guessing the installer flashes them as part of the process.

      • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

        Wouldn't those be the System apps as mentioned in the article?

  • John Lopez

    I've seen this process been done on nexus devices and it does seem pretty simple, But that's on nexus devices. I want to see if they're able to make it this simple on samsung or HTC phones, that would be awesome.

    • richardarkless

      If I remember correctly they stated that as long as a compatible device has an official unlock process and not a hack/workaround then it will be compatible with the installer

  • hyperbolic

    It seems that he closed the option to participate (Can't comment in Google+ post).
    too bad.

  • Ixil

    It looks great, and I am extremely interested in where CM is going to go. I don't want it to turn into "That OS that 'dumb' people use", heck, I've been looking into other ROMs after the whole incorporating thing happened. But I still love Cyanogenmod, so we will see what happens.

    • Cuvis

      Don't worry about the approval of anybody who'd judge you by what OS you use.

  • HolyFreakingCrap

    People are still installing the SellOutOS ?

    • Ark

      You're so enlightened and principled.

    • Bleakvision

      I applaud them for taking a risk.

  • Ark

    Kickass. I'm running it on my s4 as soon as it's out.

    On a side note, was someone vacuuming close to you or does your cooler actually sound like that?

    • Dennis Faucher

      That was the laptop fan turning on and the S4 boot loader is locked.

      • Roh_Mish

        International is unlocked

  • Cory Wilson

    Do you still have to root and install a custom recovery or is that all included?

    • Android Developer

      i think you don't have to do it, but that's a good question.

  • Android Developer

    How can I try the installer too?

  • GuilhermeMendes

    they need a better mascot, this one sucks

    • http://saifhassan.info/ Saif Hassan

      How about using the default android one. But in BLUE :D

  • Rob Cook

    That is really cool but the video would be even more amazing if you didn't use an N4 but rather something a bit more pedestrian like an S3. It's almost like cheating using the N4 so what I'd like to see is the whole process on a phone that isn't blessed by Google to be so dev friendly. I know it will work but a video is worth a million words or something like that.

  • Stacey Liu

    This would more useful if the windows app also unlocked the bootloader and rooted any popular device (current Nexus and Samsung + HTC flagship devices). Otherwise, this doesn't really fix anything. The people who are smart enough to root and unlock their bootloaders are usually smart enough to know how to flash ROMs.

    Someone should be able to plug in their stock Sense HTC One, let some magic happen, and have a CM HTC One at the end of the process. This would make the process much more palatable to a lot of people. I have a bunch of friends with Nexus 4s who like the features they see on my Nexus 4 with CM/PA, but think the process is too scary.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      I probably should have been more clear about this in the post, but the app did unlock my bootloader and root. My Nexus 4 was totally stock before this.

      • Stacey Liu

        Oh really? That's sounds great. Props to the CM team. Does that feature only work with Nexus devices?

        • Di Lu

          Nexus devices are the easiest to root & unlock, the rootin & unlocking for other devices are harder and/or nearly impossible.

          • Roh_Mish

            Samsungs one are more easier one actually. (I used many samsung before coming to nexus 4 and there your data was safe.)

          • Arthur Dent

            Tell that to Galaxy S4 users on AT&T and VZW

          • Roh_Mish

            We dont have crap carriers in my country.

  • Bleakvision

    I'm impressed. I had no intention until now to root my Nexus 4, but now I just have to try it out of curiosity. I loved CM on my Galaxy S1, it was my savior from TouchWiz.

  • scuttlefield

    I like how easy that made this for the general user, but has there been any word of an easy uninstall? I'd be reluctant to recommend this to a n00b, if there wasn't an uninstall process that was just as easy, in case they didn't like CM.

  • Cuvis

    Damn, man, and I thought my computer was loud...

  • charliehustle84

    Do you have to be rooted before using the installer?

  • prashant

    comments are disabled :(

  • alamarco

    I didn't notice any sort of backup from the CM Installer. Did I miss this?

    I've always been under the impression that getting a backup via ADB was almost essential before installing custom recovery and custom ROM's. If this doesn't make an ADB backup, isn't this setting up a world of hurt for a lot of users who don't have the expertise to deal with these issues?

    If something happens, there's no fallback. I hope I'm wrong and I really did miss it.

  • Yasir Haque

    I would love to try this on my Note 2 N7100.

  • Roh_Mish

    Your laptop makes too much of noise. What's in there?

  • danger89

    Nice vid :)

  • Zyre

    Does it also have a UN-install option? or will I have to manually get Stock Android again on my Nexus 4?

  • Chuck MC

    Can some help me as im a complete noob at this,

    What steps will i need to take to insure i can reset my S4 back to factory settings if need
    send in to get fixed?

  • aadish

    does that reqiure root access???