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.
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.
Just yesterday the Nexus 4, 5, 7, and 10 all received their first nightlies for CyanogenMod 11. Now KitKat-flavored builds are rolling out for a slew of additional devices. The team has shared a list of devices with incoming nightlies, and while it isn't yet an exhaustive list, it does include multiple variants of the HTC One (m7att, m7spr, m7tmo, m7ul) and LG G2 (d800, d801, d802), as well as the international Galaxy SIII (i9300).
When a new version of Android drops, it's Nexus this and Google Play that. But for a lot of advanced users (especially those who don't have the choice to go Nexus), custom ROMs are their first taste of the latest and greatest. In the tradition of independent developers and tinkerers delivering the goods, the relatively new OmniROM team has released nightly KitKat builds for no less than fifteen devices.
Here's the full list of phones and tablets:
- Galaxy S II (i9100G)
- Galaxy S II AT&T (SGH-i777)
- Galaxy S III (i9300)
- Galaxy S III LTE (i9305)
- Galaxy Note (N7000)
- Galaxy Note II (N7100)
- Galaxy Note II LTE (t0lte)
- Galaxy Note II LTE AT&T (t0lteatt)
- Galaxy Note II LTE T-Mobile (t0ltetmo)
- Nexus 4
- Nexus 5
- Nexus 7 2012 3G
- Nexus 7 2012 WiFi
- Nexus 7 2013 WiFi
- Oppo Find 5
If you haven't heard of OmniROM, it's a new family of custom ROMs that's quickly gaining steam among Android power users and enthusiasts.
The Galaxy Note 8.0 is a pretty capable tablet, though it does have several drawbacks. While the painfully low 1280 by 800 display can't be helped, its default software configuration is far less immutable. If TouchWiz just grinds your gears, you will be happy to know that CyanogenMod nightlies are now available for both the 3G (GT-N5100) and WiFi-only (GT-N5110) versions of the tablet. Sure, anyone who installs them now may be sacrificing stability and other functionality, but that's the price some are willing to pay for stock Android and quicker access to updates.
Whenever there's a new version of Android on the block, you can bet that custom ROM makers will be some of the first to push it out - for example, the Paranoid Android team had an AOSP build of KitKat available the day after the code was published. This weekend the makers of four of the most prolific custom ROM families out there, CyanogenMod, Android Open Kang Project (AOKP), Paranoid Android, and Omni ROM, have shared their plans for Android 4.4.
When it comes to hardware aesthetics, Sony has some of the best industrial design around. The 6.4-inch Xperia Z Ultra is undeniably attractive in its glass and metal casing. The software isn't so appealing, and not just because it's Android 4.2 - Sony's custom interface leaves a lot to be desired. If you'd like to run something closer to AOSP, not to mention a latter version of Android, the indefatigable CyanogenMod team is now offering nightly builds of CM 10.2.
For many of us, it's not enough just to get our hands on a new handset. We love Android, but we're just not big fans of the changes that manufacturers make to distinguish their phones from one another. Some manufacturer customizations, like Sense 5, are arguably more attractive than Google's own efforts.