Android 6 Custom ROMs: CyanogenMod 13

CM13 Home Screen

Here’s my Nexus 6P running a recent nightly release of CyanogenMod 13 with the Flux Theme. In case you were wondering about that SMS icon second from the right along the bottom row, it’s the AOSP Messaging app. Yes, CM is a CAF-based custom ROM, but the AOSP Android apps—Calendar, Keyboard, Messaging, etc.—are generally better supported by CyanogenMod Themes.

Theming has been a defining feature of CyanogenMod since at least CM11, and despite the very early state of development for CM13 I had no problems theming my phone. That’s not to say that this ROM is ready for use as a daily driver, however. There are still some fairly major issues to be sorted out, at least for my device.

CM13 Google Camera

For example, here’s what I see when I launch Google’s Camera app. The camera is able to capture video but stills are, for some inexplicable reason, not available. The AOSP Camera app seems to work fine, but who wants to use that?

Another potential problem is CM’s Privacy Guard, which gives the user control over those pesky app permissions. It’s still present in CM13, despite being made completely redundant by the native app permission control in Android Marshmallow. The ROM seemed to run okay with Privacy Guard turned off, but why it’s there in the first place is perplexing to say the very least.

Anyone interested in CyanogenMod should also know that it requires full-disk encryption, or FDE. If you want to circumvent this—to get better performance, for example—you’ll have to flash a custom kernel that supports CAF and doesn’t force FDE. I chose the ElementalX kernel by Canadian developer Aaron Segaert (woot!). It worked great right up until I installed the OTA update for the next nightly version of CM. Then I suddenly had a soft-bricked phone which, if you think about it, only makes sense.

If you’re asking, my advice would be to hold off on CyanogenMod until their first stable M release. If you’ve had a different experience running CM13 on your device, I’d love to hear about it!

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