Dec 31, 2013 02:11 PM EST
CyanogenMod is exactly what you'd expect from a close-to-stock Kitkat ROM. I've been using it for about a month as a replacement for the buggy Shiny Kitkat ROM I was using previously on my Verizon Galaxy Nexus. Basically this ROM is what I'd call stock+. You get all of the features, look, and feel of Android 4.4, plus some extra customization that CyanogenMod always uses. All things considered, this is a great ROM -- and here's why.
I loaded Shiny Kitkat onto my GNex as soon as it was released (big mistake). As soon as I rebooted my device I instantly fell in love with Kitkat. Improved, always listening Google now, more efficient RAM usage, and the Google Experience home screen had me hungry for more. The more I delved into the OS update, the more I enjoyed it. However, the ROM was buggy and force closed my apps, shutdown my device, and blacked out certain apps. (This was about a month and a half ago, so some of these bugs may be fixed.) So I went back to stock for a bit. However, I couldn't be satisfied with Android 4.2 after I had tasted Kitkat, so I put CyanogenMod on my phone, because I had heard great things about it. After using the ROM for a month, I can say that I am very pleased. All of the great Kitkat features like the improved Google Now were included, but so were some of CyanogenMod's best.
Features: Some of my favorite features from CM are quick settings, theme changing, and color saturation. While I naturally love the super-saturated look of a Super AMOLED screen, it's always fun to mess around with the colors' hues and depth. However, were in to own a device with a screen I didn't care for as much, this feature would definitely come in handy. A friend of mine did some tweaking to a drab 720p LCD display and turned it into a brilliant screen. However, I would suggest you only try this if you have a basic idea of what you’re doing. As mentioned in my Paranoid Android review, I love changing themes, and my previously downloaded themes worked great with CM. I recommend CM’s theme changer as the easy alternative to zipping themes onto your device, since you can download new ones from the Google Play store using the theme changer. I also definitely recommend this route if you love your stock Android, but are hungry for some new temporary style changes. Lastly, the staple of any alternate ROM, and in my opinion the most-needed addition to the Android OS: customizable quick settings. Android 4.2 brought us quick settings, yet two updates later, we still have no way to customize which buttons we want on our quick settings menu. With PA, CM, AOKP, and most other popular ROMs, this problem is fixed. Some of my personal favorites to put on the quick-toggle list are torch, Wi-Fi hotspot, and rotation lock. A few other neat features I liked were shortcuts from swiping up from the bottom, lock screen shortcuts, and performance tweaking (not for beginers!)
All of Google’s latest greats are included in this ROM. Google now is as immersive as ever, and is always one swipe to the left of your homescreen, a swipe from the bottom of any screen, or an “Okay, Google” away. The convenience included in this update had me talking to Google for no reason whatsoever besides showing off to my iOS-using friends. I also enjoyed the “immersion mode,” which reminded me of PA’s full-screen mode. ART is also a great addition to Android this time around, albeit a little underappreciated. Android RunTime (ART) is Google’s plan as successor to the currently used Dalvik runtime, which should improve app opening time and multi-tasking. I saw a huge improvement with my GNex over an acquaintance’s, although that may also be the better, more efficient RAM usage, which is hovering around 512 MB for me.
Stability: Now, many of you are probably worrying about the stability of this build. Well, needless to say, it is not perfect. We are only two months out from the official release of Kitkat, and while things are getting better, most Android 4.4 builds are still occasionally buggy. However, I have found that my phone rarely crashes or restarts, (about 1-2 times a week) and it shows a marked improvement over the Shiny build I used previously (at least 2-3 times per day).
After using Kitkat by CyanogenMod for a while, I can confidently say that I truly enjoy using this ROM and highly recommend you give it a try, especially if Google gave you the boot with the Kitkat update.
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