Google's own launcher lacks many customization features you'd get with third-party options, but it has that cool Google Now panel that makes it that much easier to see your cards. Because that's part of the closed-source Google Search app, other launchers have thus far been unable to implement it. However, the newest 0613 nightlies of CyanogenMod 11 include this feature in the default Trebuchet launcher. Well, mostly.
We always talk about the customizability of Android, but most of us never really put it to the test. Sure, we might change the theme on our keyboards or replace some homescreen icons, but when is the last time you changed your system font? If you're running CyanogenMod and feel like trying something a little different, treat your eyes to any of the six brand new fonts that have been packaged up for use in the CM Theme Engine.
The Sony Xperia Z2 is a great device out of the box, but let's not kid around, a certain number of people are going to want to root and flash it if for no reason other than spite. The task requires a good custom ROM to turn to in place of whatever unbearable software the phone shipped with, and fortunately the latest version of CyanogenMod, complete with Android 4.4, is now one such option available to Xperia Z2 owners who just can't bear to let things be.
When you go around flashing ROMs, you have to expect that things might occasionally go wrong. The previous milestone build of CyanogenMod 11 seemed fine at first, but then Google released the 4.4.3 update. Devices that were eligible (Nexus phones, for example) started producing update notifications, which shouldn't happen on a custom ROM. This was more troublesome than a notification that wouldn't go away, though.
If you used to play around with CyanogenMod Nightlies, but switched to the more stable M-series releases, it has probably felt like forever since M6 hit the scene. Well, M7 is hot off the compilers, just in time to fill that insatiable need to flash your phone or tablet. Don't forget, the M-series has officially taken the place of Release Candidates and Stable builds, so this is considered the most reliable version of CyanogenMod available.
Android 4.4.3 isn't a huge bump up from the previous incremental release - the biggest change is a new dialer, though there are thousands of adjustments behind the scenes. Even so, the most popular families of custom Android ROMs are quickly adopting the open source code into their bleeding-edge releases. CyanogenMod has already begun the transfer to 4.4.3 with its latest nightly builds.
One of the nicest things about CyanogenMod (from a cosmetic perspective, anyway) is support for hundreds and hundreds of community-baked themes on the Play Store and elsewhere. As opposed to a launcher theme or icon set, these themes are system-wide, and they can completely change the look of your phone or tablet in a few seconds. Custom ROMs often bake in a compatible theme system (see AOKP), and now the popular Paranoid Android family has done so as well.
Some of you may have thought CyanogenMod had made it back when it spawned a company, but a project isn't really legit until it gets its first shirt. That makes today the day that CyanogenMod gets its priorities straight, as the project has just made its first official t-shirt available for purchase directly from the CyanogenMod shop. The offering stars our favorite blue Android mascot for a custom ROM, Cid, in a superhero form.
Last year, Samsung got into some hot water for including an automatic "high power mode" for certain apps, dialing up the processor and GPU scaling. There's nothing wrong with that in theory, but these changes were enabled specifically for benchmark apps, giving the benchmarks results that, while not technically incorrect, were artificially inflated and unlikely to be indicative of everyday performance.
Can you make a smartphone without compromise? Is it possible to cram top-of-the-line hardware into a slim phone body, then fit it with well-regarded software, then sell it for about half the price of competing devices, and call the resulting product a "flagship killer?" Can you, as the ceaseless OnePlus promotion machine so succinctly puts it, "never settle?"
In a word, no. The OnePlus One, the maiden Android phone from a boutique manufacturer, is not completely without its shortcomings (or indeed, its compromises).