CyanogenMod was formerly the most popular custom ROM for Android devices. Unfortunately, a short-lived effort at making the ROM the basis of a business-to-business software company sank the entire CyanogenMod team and its former assets, including the name and community servers. But all isn’t lost: many of the original developers have jumped into the new LineageOS project—a direct follow-up to CyanogenMod. While the extensive device support isn’t quite what it used to be, Lineage is still the first stop for up-to-date community ROMs for many users.
Up-to-Date, Stock Android
LineageOS provides you with an up-to-date version of Android. It’s also a pure, stock Android experience. Yes, the Lineage developers add lots of their own tweaks and a handful of apps. However, they respect Google’s interface. The tweaks the operating system adds don’t feel out of place—many of them are just added to the Settings screen as new options. Because it dispenses with the additional bloat a lot of manufacturers and carriers add, LineageOS is also very fast.
This is the biggest reason to install a custom ROM. If it supports your device, it will provide you with a pure, up-to-date Android experience. It’s a way to revitalize old Android devices that manufacturers are no longer updating.
Privacy Guard lets you control which permissions installed apps can use, and which permissions new apps get by default. This gives you an iOS-style permission experience on Android, so you can decide whether that app should be allowed to access your location, contacts, and other private data while still using the app. This is based on an Android feature named App Ops to which Google removed access.
Privacy Guard also displays a notification when you’re using an app with blocked permissions. If an app isn’t working properly, this notification reminds you that you may want to re-enable some permissions. You can enable Privacy Guard and control notifications by heading to Settings > Privacy > Privacy Guard.
The “Superuser” screen integrates root permissions into Android’s Settings screen. This interface functions as a traditional way to allow and disallow superuser requests from apps, but it also allows you to enable or disable root for your entire device. You don’t have to connect your phone or tablet to your computer and run any commands, and you won’t lose root when upgrading. LineageOS is compatible with root access if you want it, and allows you to disable root access if you don’t need it.
The “Interface” settings screen is packed with options. You can tweak the Status Bar, Quick Settings panel, Notification Drawer, and Navigation Bar. For example, you could reorder the buttons on the Navigation Bar at the bottom of your screen, or rearrange the order of the tiles in the Quick Settings panel.
The Status Bar pane has a Brightness control toggle, which allows you to adjust your device’s screen brightness just by sliding your finger back and forth on the notification panel at the top of your screen. It’s a great way to increase screen brightness if you can’t see your screen in direct sunlight, for example.
The AudioFX app provides system-wide equalizer controls you can use to adjust the sound coming from your device, enabling bass boost, activating an equalizer, and selecting presets that match the music you listen to.
Use the “Buttons” screen to control what your device’s buttons do. For example, you could long-press the volume buttons to switch music tracks. This is a great solution for skipping between songs without pulling your phone out of your pocket, if you don’t have a headphone cable with an integrated remote.
LineageOS even includes the ability to enable keyboard cursor control, so that your volume keys move the text cursor when your software keyboard is open. This could make typing more efficient, allowing you to adjust the cursor without having to move your finger a pixel to the left or right on the touchscreen.
LineageOS includes profiles, which you can find under Settings > Users or by long-pressing the power button, and then tapping the “Profile” option. Profiles are groups of settings. For example, say you always set your phone to vibrate mode and disable mobile data when you’re at work. You could group those settings into a “Work” profile and just switch to the profile instead of changing each individual setting. You can also activate profiles using Tasker.
LineageOS also includes a handful of its own apps, like the Trebuchet home screen launcher, the clock home screen widget, a File Manager with root file access, a custom music player, and a terminal emulator. You can also install many of these apps on other Android devices, and you can all be replace them with other apps you may like better.