Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Preview of CyanogenMod 6

I was preparing to write a preview of CyanogenMod 6 (CM6) before it became officially released. But alas, by the time I got around to it, CM6 is now officially released. The pre-release alphas, release candidates and nightly builds have been circulated around for quite some time now. I’ve been following the development and for the last several days, noted that activity, in terms of updates, had been slowing down. Seemed like things were winding down for the final release. Well, CM6 is now ready.

CM6 is build on Android 2.2 Froyo. Froyo itself became available in late May. It didn’t take too long before CyanogenMod picked up Froyo to work on. My Nexus One with CM5 has already been a great phone, but CM6 takes the Android experience to a new level. I can quite safely say that I’ve never been so pleased with what I’ve been able to do with my phone.

There are just so many new things with CM6 that it just doesn’t make sense for me to list them. But some of the chief features that matter to me are:

  • The camera department is a big hit: touch-to-focus (so you can select the spot to focus on, much like how the iPhone lets you do that), 720p video recording, and significant improvements in the user interface so that settings are so much easier to change now.
  • New home launcher using ADWLauncher 1.0.1. The smoothness of window effect transitions and expose effects are just lovely. I must admit that when ADWLauncher was first added (and after the kinks were ironed out), it was chiefly responsible for a drop in my phone’s battery life… because I kept messing around with the phone to experience the launcher’s smoothness!
  • Using trackball to wake and unlock the phone, instead of using the not-so-accessible power button.
  • Apps can now be installed/moved to SD. It’s not the Apps2SD of CM5 style, but just as useful nonetheless.
  • Properly integrated customizable trackball colour notifications.
  • Music player controls on lock screen.
  • Torchlight application.
  • Better Exchange integration (but alas, I decided for various reasons to stop syncing with Exchange…).

There are actually so many other nitty gritty details like the tons of customization settings, new Dalvik JIT, various types of hardware acceleration on ARMv7, etc… but I shan’t just go on and on about them. You can find them in the CM6 changelog yourself.

Oh yes, naturally not all of these are CM6-specific. They could be features that came as part of the stock Froyo.

One of the chief reasons why I came to Android is the same as why I started using Linux on PCs: Access to source and ability to build thing on my own. I’ve been building CM6 from the git repositories and I’m quite pleased with it. Particularly when I can make changes to changes from others that I don’t want. That’s the beauty of open source.

If  you’re still using the stock ROM on your Nexus One, HTC Magic, or any one of the many phones now supported by CM6, I’d encourage you to flash CM6. Your phone is probably already great as it is, but you can still go so much further!

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