Android M Makes Custom ROMs Obsolete (not really)

Android M Logo

The developer preview of Android M is already out, with tech bloggers and other rabid fandroid in a mad rush to install it on their old Nexus devices and report their findings. Me? I’m just getting acquainted with Android L, so I’m good.

A quick glance through the bullet list of Android M’s standout features might make you think that Google is gunning for CyanogenMod, BlissPop and the like. Today I’ll take you through those new features, and hopefully demonstrate that there remains at least one good reason to consider a community build of Android over stock.

App Permissions are getting a massive overhaul in Android M (via Android Central)

This is the number one reason why I run custom ROMs, and a feature that should have been in stock Android a long time ago. Granular control of egregious app permissions will finally bring Android’s respect for the user to parity with (and it kills me to write this) iOS.

From yesterday’s keynote photos it seems like Google is opting for a Cyanogen/MIUI-style permissions manager. If you’ve not yet had the pleasure you can read more about Cyanogen’s Privacy Guard right here.

Android M has a dark theme option (via Ars Technica)

My favourite feature from SlimKat is coming to stock Android? Neat.

Unfortunately I highly doubt that stock M will support further customization like Cyanogen’s Theme Engine does, although some of that customization would still be available via a third-party launcher.

Google May Have Left The Best Android “M” Feature Out Of The Keynote: Automatic App Data Backup And Restore (via Android Police)

So apparently this new version of Android will automatically back up your app data to your Google Drive account, to a maximum of 25 MB per app. Mmkay…

I’m more than a bit skeptical; Android has had an app backup and restore feature for some time now and it’s never worked reliably for me. I prefer to control app data myself with Titanium Backup—that way I’ll always have my own copy of the data generated by my apps.

Stick it to Google with AdAway (via Howard Forums)

One feature you won’t see in stock Android anytime soon is the ability to block Google’s primary source of income from your phone or tablet. They banned AdAway from Google Play so you can only get it from F-Droid, and only with a rooted device. It’s worth it.

Don’t get me wrong, “M” is a massive improvement for Android—the permissions manager alone will make it a no-brainer upgrade. If anything, these new features will nudge ROM developers to push their custom firmware even further. In other words, everybody wins!

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