Much of Android is open to tinkerers, but Google has gradually closed off more and more of the default functionality. The most awesome aspects of the KitKat dialer - its ability to search for businesses and contacts from within the app - were not included in the open source version. So what's a ROM developer to do? Why, create their own alternative. The OmniROM folks have previously shown off their work, and now the CyanogenMod team has packed similar functionality, albeit seemingly more powerful, into the latest nightlies.
The marketing campaign for OnePlus's CyanogenMod-powered One phone has been maddeningly piecemeal, so we've been hesitant to post their tiny updates. But the latest one is notable: according to this forum post, the OnePlus One will feature always-on voice commands, in the same manner as the Moto X and 2013 Motorola DROIDs. The administrator says that it's enabled by a combination of Qualcomm technology and custom software from the CyanogenMod team.
We're getting closer and closer to a stable KitKat release of the popular aftermarket Android ROM, CyanogenMod. The "M" snapshot releases are more stable than a nightly, but not quite as final as a release candidate. The fourth M build for CyanogenMod 11 (Android 4.4) includes a wide range of updates that hadn't yet made it to the KitKat builds, according to the official CyanogenMod blog.
Most of these revolve around the custom applications that the CyanogenMod team adds to Android, though a few are more essential.
Fans of Motorola and ROM flashing will be excited to learn CyanogenMod is giving them what they want. NewCM11 nightly builds of the popular ROM now support a ton of Motorola devices with unified builds. You just have to figure out which phones are which – it's a little tricky.
There is a single ROM for the Falcon, which would be a cool name for a phone. It's actually the Moto G, and it looks like this ROM should work for all variants.
If your phone was already one of the very first devices to get the latest version of Android, do you really need a custom ROM like CyanogenMod? If you're shouting "YES" at the screen right now, you'll want to know about the first nightly builds available for the Moto X. The CM team has published CM11 nightlies for the Moto X on T-Mobile (XT1053, which is also the standard unlocked GSM edition) and for Verizon (XT1060), though the later needs to be a Developer Edition.
There are so many regional and carrier variants of Samsung's Galaxy S4 flagship that even we can hardly keep them straight, but apparently CyanogenMod hasn't released an official ROM for the white bread, vanilla, Exynos-powered original GS4 before now. But lo and behold, a new build for the GT-I9500 GSM model has appeared on the CM download page. It's a test version of CyanogenMod 11 (Android 4.4) if you're interested.
As you may recall, support for Exynos-based hardware has been something of a sticking point for CyanogenMod and other ROM teams.
Sony hardware fans, you've now got at least two more options when it comes to Android-based software. The current Sony flagship, the Xperia Z1, is now officially supported by the CyanogenMod ROM. The first CM 11 (Android 4.4) nightly build was posted to the CyanogenMod download page last night. There's also a new version of CM 11 built specifically for the Xperia Z Ultra Google Play Edition, the AOSP version of Sony's monster phablet on sale in the Play Store.
Update: The Oppo N1 isn't alone. CyanogenMod 11 nightlies are available for the Find 5 as well.
You can get your hands on an Oppo N1 with CyanogenMod pre-installed. Really, it's the first phone to have this as an option, and there's a good chance that's the only reason you even know which phone I'm referring to. Yet as cool as that is, for Android tinkerers, there's just one problem - it's too outdated.
The Android custom ROM community is a relatively small one, but it's about to be shaken up in a big way. Roman Birg, founder and leader of the Android Open Kang Project (better known as AOKP), has been hired by Cyanogen Inc., the company that's now formally developing and promoting the CyanogenMod ROM. The move has been confirmed on AOKP's homepage.
AOKP founder Roman Birg, via Google+
Birg hasn't said what he'll be doing for Cyanogen Inc., though the company has been advertising job openings for software engineers.