Recently the last great frustration of my Galaxy S5 was removed. Although I’d rooted the original Samsung Touchwizz OS, then stripped most of the bloatware out, it was still suffering from the suffocation of that octopus-like interface laid over a decent OS. Having to fight Samsung to get my contacts off their server (because there’s no good reason for them to have that information) is not my idea of fun.
S5 – Great Hardware, Stink Software.
And the ridiculous Samsung App Store with its minimal selection of apps that all exist at the a Google Play Store is proof positive that not everyone in management at Samsung is intelligent. Actually, there must be a layer of very slow-reacting & low IQ middle managers who can somehow defend the costs – financial & reputation – imposed by the stupid Samsung App Store.
The list of frustrations caused by the massive Touchwizz monster continues, ad nauseum. Almost everywhere you turn, there’s a stupid, unnecessary Samsung alternative option that you’re required to deselect or opt out of. When I say Touchwizz monster, I mean it. A non-branded standard Samsung ROM weighs in at a hefty 1.4GB. For a phone, people, a phone.
I’ve run my Galaxy S2, S3 & S4 handsets on Cyanogenmod since I discovered the project. This, however, was one bit of homework I didn’t do before purchasing my S5, I simply assumed that the CM ROM would be available. Heh, nah. Samsung were holding out on some vital camera driver information, forcing the CM volunteer developers to discover the path themselves.
Being stuck with great hardware running piss-poor software was a daily disappointment. Considering I’d come from a Cyanogenmod Galaxy S4 which I’d installed CM on from day one, the 8-month wait was endlessly frustrating.
Cyanogenmod, for those who aren’t experienced in Android mods, is an optimized replacement version of the factory Android install. Free of manufacturer’s data-gathering “services” and apps, Cyanogenmod is designed improve your handset’s performance while allowing the user to add whichever apps they want. It’s an open-source project, powered by volunteer coders. CM supports well over 50 devices, both phones & tablets. CM installs sans Google apps, allowing users to specify which of the Google products they want installed post-Cyanogenmod.
Compare the gigantic download required for an OEM Samsung S5 ROM (1.4GB) to the latest Cyanogenmod S5 ROM which weighs in at under 230MB. (Plus your selection of Google apps, which you install separately. A basic install is another 140MB.) Cyanogenmod with basic G-Apps provides a fully-functional Android OS for a full GB less than Samsung. Or just 29% of the OEM release. That’s a substantial amount of fat being sliced away, none of it essential apps that you can’t live without. Most of it, in fact, is data-hogging, bandwidth-gobbling shitware that you’ll be glad to be rid of.
Samsung isn’t the only culprit here, LG, HTC & Sony are equally guilty of providing over-customized interfaces laden with useless programs whose main function is to gather user data and send it home.
Security and privacy has always been a foremost concern with Cyanogenmod, considering the lengthy delay between OEM updates, this is a really good thing. CM updates can come as often as monthly, OEM updates are often annually or even less frequently. Since ‘droid is by far the most popular mobile OS, it is going to be the pre-eminent target for malware scripters. A year between updates? Nowhere near sufficient.
Recently Cyanogenmod teamed up with WhisperPush, installing their powerful TextSecure app as the standard text messaging app on all CM-powered handsets. TextSecure is a rock-solid privacy solution that I’ve written about before.
What this means is that text communication between 2 CM handsets (there’s over 12,000,000 current installs) or CM & another phone running TextSecure will be encrypted over the journey. In this way, Cyanogenmod users get to reclaim their right to privacy, without any special effort or tricky implementation.
Other CM benefits include longer battery life (\0/), improved Wifi reception, shorter boot time, native SD card access & the availability of far deeper configuration control for personalizing functions and interface.
Are you ready to dump your OEM Android install yet? It’s so easy – on your device, go to http://get.cm, download the Cyanogenmod installomatic app then follow the instructions. You’ll be given an option to backup your current install & data, then after a quick, smooth & simple operation, your new, improved device will arrive.
If your device isn’t yet supported by the get.cm solution, don’t give up. Either investigate a little more yourself, or talk to Megabyte.
When it comes to technology, I’m always open to change. Show me a better product/method/solution & I’ll adopt it. I’m sold on Cyanogenmod & have been for years. If you’re an Android user then I highly recommend Cyanogenmod to optimize your experience.
EDIT: Just 2 days after I posted this article, my S5 alerted me to an update being available. The new Android v5, code name Lollipop, which I duly installed (280MB). Lots of changes, no Dalvik cache any more, Lollipop seems all good so far. I can always restore to v4.4.4 KitKat if anything goes wrong anyway. I doubt it will though, this is Cyanogenmod we’re talking about!
It’ll be interesting to see how long the delay is until Samsung announce their own bloated Touchwizz version for S5. 3months? More? Heh.