CyanogenMod 13 first impressions: bringing Marshmallow to the masses

Now that Android Marshmallow is out in the wild, Android enthusiasts everywhere, at least those without Nexus devices, will be waiting to see when it’s their turn to upgrade from Lollipop.

Numerous manufacturers have already released their lists of which devices will see the upgrade as well as those that are scheduled to be left behind. This is normal and should come as no surprise, however, for those not wanting to wait, (for instance, me), Cyanogenmod has delivered.

Named CyanogenMod 13, the custom OS had been updated to Android 6.0 Marshmallow and nightlies for a few devices, including my Moto G 2nd Generation, have started rolling out.

The following devices support the jump to CyanogenMod 13, as well as some Motorola products listed further down this piece:

Please note the model number of your LG device should you want to make the jump, flashing wrong firmware on your device could result in endless headaches.

Motorola’s budget devices have surprisingly active developers looking after their CyanogenMod builds. If you have a Moto G, Moto G 4G, Moto G 2014, Moto G 2014 4G or last year’s Moto X, you’re in luck as nightlies have also started. I’ve only just flashed this to my device so will need some more time with it to get a real feel for the new features and functionality before I give it the thumbs up or down.

My initial impressions are pretty good though. My Moto G seems reasonably snappy, and memory management seems significantly better. Remember that the Moto G only has 1GB of RAM, making memory management paramount to a good experience. Sadly this was a huge issue on Android 5.0.2, where the 2nd Gen Moto G was left stranded as Motorola decided to skip updating to 5.1 entirely and to focus on upgrading straight to Marshmallow. I have no idea how the stock firmware will run, but if this is any indication, then Moto G owners are in for a treat.

I remember writing that custom ROMs will eventually become obsolete in the Android world, but I’ve had to rethink that stance since I replaced my flagship Moto X from last year, with the 4G version of the Moto G when the X’s screen met a concrete floor. Custom ROMs very much still have a place, particularly when it comes to staying on the latest, and most secure, Android versions for budget device owners.

Since Google’s sale of Motorola to Lenovo, forums, message boards, and Reddit threads, have been crammed full of unhappy customers that bought into Google and Motorola’s vision for the company. The vision was one of fast updates, transparency and innovation.

When Lenovo took over the update schedule slowed down significantly, and let’s not even discuss the promised and then reneged upgrade for the Moto E to Marshmallow. For all these reasons, and some of my own, I decided that CyanogenMod would be the OS my Moto G. It has been pretty much since I got the device and realised that Android 5.0.2 just should be avoided at all costs. I’m very happy that I did, more so now that I’m running Android Marshmallow on my device.

Some first thoughts about the ROM are:

  • The animations are really nice, and consistent
  • Multitasking seems much better
  • The new font suits smaller screens
  • Why “Charging only” is the default setting when you connect your device to your computer via USB boggles my mind. If you plug your phone in, and your computer doesn’t recognise the device immediately, this is most likely why. Simply select the option in your notification dropdown and select “File transfer” to fix it, just remember, you will have to do this every single time
  • Double tap the power button to open the camera is a nice addition
  • The new “Do Not Disturb” settings are great, a good step up from Lollipop
  • Sound modes seem to be normal again, as opposed to the mega­confusing system used in Lollipop

Those are my first impressions, and I’ll be back next week with some more in­-depth thoughts on Android Marshmallow, and CyanogenMod 13’s additional features.

Feature image: opopododo via Flickr



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