It's been a while since we've heard anything from the Paranoid Android ROM team. Perhaps that's because ROM flashing has fallen by the wayside a bit as stock and skinned Android has made serious improvements, perhaps it's because a lot of the original team was hired by OnePlus to work on its Oxygen OS builds. Whatever the reason, they're back now. While PA is definitely late to the Marshmallow party (the last time they issued a major release was almost a year ago), the team has been revitalized with new developers and support for new devices.
Before anyone gets their hopes up, OnePlus hasn't provided a launch date just yet. There is a stable build that's still in the testing phase, but various certifications stand between it and release.
OnePlus has brought in a number of people from Paranoid Android to steer its development team, including the custom ROM's co-founders Aaron Gascoigne and Jesús David Gulfo Agudelo. Arz Bhatia, Paranoid Android's lead designer and the creator of many popular themes, will lead the design efforts for OxygenOS.
The nice thing about owning a Nexus device is that it's the first thing to get all the fancy new custom ROMs. Various indie developers have been tweaking AOSP for Nexus phones and tablets (and other devices) since Lollipop launched, and CyanogenMod started publishing nightlies just a few weeks ago. Now there's another option among the high-profile Android ROM teams: Paranoid Android. Alpha builds of the Lollipop version were just published to the download site.
If you're new to the ROM scene, Paranoid Android is probably a distant second to CyanogenMod in terms of total current installs. Its developers are known for pushing the envelope a little more in terms of building out from Android's open-source code, especially when it comes to a user-customizable interface.
The first beta of Paranoid Android 4.6 has been made available for download and it includes a feature the team has been working on for some time. Dynamic System Bars (DSB) allows the status and navigation bars to match the action bar color in apps. If you've ever used the Tinted Status bar mod for Xposed, this is a similar idea.
The CyanDelta Updater app now has support for Paranoid Android, so users of that ROM can join the likes of their CyanogenMod or OmniROM running peers in avoiding that beefy ROM update each night. Keeping up with the nightly Joneses typically requires downloading a sizable update daily, but CyanDelta addresses this situation by only pulling down delta files, which contain just the part of each update that has actually changed. The premise is simple: why download an entire ROM each day if you can simply get what's new?
To dive in, you must first download the .zip file for whichever ROM you want to run (as long as it's CyanogenMod, OmniRom, or Paranoid Android).
Well folks, this is it: the final build of Paranoid Android is ready, just in time for Google I/O to show us a new version of the OS. Turn out the lights, the party's over. The fat lady is singing. We'll go quietly into that... what? This is isn't the last Paranoid Android build? It's just feature-complete and stable, and development on the custom ROM will continue? Ah. Well, carry on then.
Android 4.4.3 hit Nexus devices last week, and now the Paranoid Android folks are hard at work packing the latest version of KitKat into their custom ROM. Today they're ready to show off the fruits of their labor in the form of the first release candidate for Paranoid Android 4.4.
This release includes not only the goodies found in 4.4.3 but a few other niceties as well. Users will get to experience changes made to Hover. For those who don't remember this impressive notification enhancement, here's a video from the feature's earlier days.
In addition, the developers will maintain compatibility with the upstream CyanogenMod Theme Engine.
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.