OmniROM

17 May 2014

Like many other tech-competetent/masochistic Android users I enjoy using custom Android ROMs on my devices. Although my Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 10 were, and would have continued to be, perfectly fine running stock Android I always found it to be a bit lacking in a few areas, mainly in the customization department.

On my phone, I've always used CyanogenMod due to the (percieved) stability and fact that they still actively support the Sprint version of the Galaxy Nexus, but I've become warry of their direction after they went commercial. Unlike my phone, my Nexus 10 doesn't have any sort of critical functionality that could potentially be botched by bleeding edge ROMs. I've tried the other two big players in the ROM market, but still didn't stick with them. While both are great choices in their own right, I found Paranoid Android and AOKP to have too many features for my liking...

I like to have something closer to Stock, but without a huge amount of features I never use. I also tried the many offshoots of these three that frankenstein a bunch of features from all three, but encountered too many stability issues, or just too many unused features and component. Then while browsing the XDA Developers forums, I heard about a new player: OmniROM.

OmniROM is developed by some of the bigger players in the Android development community and in many ways it is has set out to accomplish what CyanogenMod is/used to be. Their goals include developing new open source software and enhancements for the wider Android community to benefit from, while providing a simple, close to stock experience. The current nightlies are based on Android 4.4.2, and support a healthy and growing number of devices.

Thus far some of the more interesting features to the ROM include:

  • Multiwindow (Still in development)
  • OpenDelta: Over the air delta updates
  • OmniSwitch: A replacement for the standard Android App Switcher, with more features, and a favorites list for Apps.
  • Active Display: Displays notifications on the screen, when it is off.

omniswitch

There's many smaller features such as being able to change the placement of the clock, or being able to adjust the size of the soft buttons, and a home-grown file manager. However, one of the aspects I value most of this ROM is their stance on Nightly Releases.

"We also recognise how people use Custom ROMs – we’re all custom ROM users and developers ourselves – the argument that 'nightlies are not for end users' is over-used, and no longer valid. We’ve found that the vast majority of users want to get nightly updates to their ROM. For that reason, nightlies aren’t a playground – nightlies are for new features that are finished. You should be able to expect the same stability and reliability from a nightly as you would from a 'release' ROM, and can report any bugs that prevent this from happening."

-(About Omni)

And in the six or so months that I have been using Omni I have found this to be incredibly true. I've yet to encounter any serious crash or instability while on any of the nightlies, which were all installed with OpenDelta. While I quite often have issues with OpenDelta stopping in the middle of downloading updates, It's always produced working updates, despite somewhat enlongated waiting. A word of warning however is that OpenDelta currently only supports TWRP recovery at this moment, since cwm doesn't officially support the scripting that OpenDelta requires.

opendelta

That said, OmniROM is still very much a work in progress and currently does not have a "stable" release. Despite the relative stability of the nightlies, some users may not be comfortable using it until a stable release has been made. But for those who are feeling slightly adventurous, I would wholeheartedly recommend giving OmniROM a shot, especially to those who are not completely happy with their current ROM. If nothing else, OmniROM has a ton of potential that is very quickly being recognized with their fast and stable releases.

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