The OnePlus 3 runs OxygenOS, a custom version of Android that is similar-to-but-not-quite what you get on a Nexus. You get a few more options, but you're still ultimately dependent on a company for updates.
Phone tweakers and open source types like having more freedom, and that can come from flashing a custom ROM. OnePlus 3 owners now have the option to install the most popular community-supported ROM, CyanogenMod.
We're hearing from multiple sources that Cyanogen Inc. is in the midst of laying off a significant portion of its workforce around the world today. The layoffs most heavily impact the open source arm of the Android ROM-gone-startup, which may be eliminated entirely (not CyanogenMod itself, just the people at Cyanogen Inc.
Last year Cyanogen (the company) announced plans to release flashable bundles of its internally-developed, proprietary Android apps for CyanogenMod (the original community ROMs). It's taken a while, but now those apps are available for CyanogenMod 13 (that's the version based on Android 6.0). Users can download the package at cyngn.com/c-apps, and for the moment they include the custom theme chooser and theme store, Cyanogen's Truecaller-equipped dialer, the new Gallery app, the Cyanogen Account manager, and the AudioFX equalizer.
Wileyfox and Cyanogen formed a partnership last summer to deliver smartphones running Cyanogen OS to Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. The Wileyfox Swift was the second phone to get version 13 of the operating system. Now the Wileyfox Storm is getting that same update.
The march of CyanogenMod continues as nightlies hit two Samsung devices. The Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 and the Galaxy Note 8 are receiving CM13 nightlies, with both the WiFi and the LTE variants of the Tab S2 9.7 included.
The Galaxy Note 8 was released in April 2013 with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, while the Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 hit the market less than a year ago, in September 2015, running Android 5.0 Lollipop. The Galaxy Note 8 is only upgradeable officially to 4.4 KitKat, so getting 6.0 Marshmallow support, albeit through CyanogenMod, will be a big boon to owners of that device.
Back in February, Cyanogen Inc. announced the MOD platform, a way for developers to customise the Cyanogen OS experience with deeper-level integration into the framework of the operating system. The update to Cyanogen OS 13.1 - with MOD support included - is now rolling out to the OnePlus One.
Currently, Twitter, Skype, OneNote, Cortana, and Microsoft Hyperlapse hook into the platform and provide features integrated into Cyanogen. Twitter shows trending tweets on your lockscreen; Skype integrates VOIP into the dialer app, along with Skype contacts clearly marked in the phone's contacts app; OneNote integrates with the email and phone apps to enable you to take notes anywhere in the OS; the already-existing Cortana mod takes things further, allowing users to 'take a selfie' hands-free, while also expanding to the lockscreen; and Microsoft Hyperlapse means time lapse videos can be created easily in the camera app, or videos edited in the Gallery app.
Fans of the community-created CyanogenMod ROM, your cup runneth over with new gadgets to try out on CM 13 (based on Android 6.0 code). Five new phones and a tablet have been given the nightly treatment in the last week or so, to wit: the OnePlus 2, the Moto X Pure (the US multi-carrier variant of the Moto X Style), Yu's low-priced Yureka, the Oppo R5 and R5s, and the original version of Sony's Xperia Tablet Z. They're all available at their respective download locations under CM's somewhat nebulous device codenames.
Waiting on a carrier is not the only way to get the most recent version of Android onto your device. There's the option to flash a custom ROM instead.
You can't go that route unless your device is supported, so technically, you may still find yourself waiting. Fortunately CyanogenMod 13 nightlies with Android 6.0 have now arrived for the Galaxy S5 on Sprint, US Cellular, and Vodafone.
Remember Gello, that neat Android browser based on Chromium code that was teased by the CyanogenMod developer team a little less than a year ago? It looks like the app is finally finished, or at least ready to make a version 1.0 debut. Joey Rizzoli, the CM developer who teased Gello last July, says that it's ready to go and that managers can begin to incorporate Gello into nightly builds. The browser will be added by the individuals or teams of developers responsible for upkeep on each CyanogenMod device build, so Gello may or may not be immediately on your device's nightly release.
Slowly but surely, Android offshoot-slash-alternative Cyanogen OS is gaining ground. The incorporated and semi-proprietary version of the CyanogenMod ROM now powers a handful of retail-available phones from companies like YU, Zuk, and Smartfen, though larger manufacturers like OnePlus and Oppo have seemingly cooled on Cyanogen software. Speaking of OnePlus, its One hardware was the first to get access to Cyanogen OS version 13, based on Android 6.0.1 code. Today the Swift from Wileyfox becomes the second.