It seems Lollipop is on every enthusiast’s mind these days, as OEMs have started a steady stream of OTAs. With this multipart update, we’ll look at the most common questions (minus, “what about my device?”), Android 5.1, and what’s new and improved in CyanogenMod.
Let’s start with the latest and greatest Lollipop release, Android 5.1. Released in the second week of March, 5.1 has actually seen two releases – 5.1_r1 earlier in the month and 5.1_r3 just this week. The team has been plugging away at these releases, rebasing and merging like fiends. We’re not quite at the point where nightlies will cross over to being officially branded CM12.1, but as always, you are welcome to track our progress.
The CyanogenMod 12.1 (Android 5.1) source is available to sync, and up and running with few issues on various devices – including the latest developer device the Nexus 6. When you repo init the source, just point the branch to ‘staging/cm-12.1’. The staging branch is where we are making things ‘just work’ (you’ll see many patches simply labelled “Fix build”). These patches will be cleaned up prior to moving the source code over to our active mainline branches.
We’d expect another week of this cleanup before CM 12.1 nightlies start flying out the gates.
So just what can you expect in CyanogenMod 12/12.1? Let’s take a brief look now, and even more in part 2!
One of the first items you’ll notice is the Material theme, meant to invoke a sense of ‘living document’ while you interact with your device and apps. All the sweeping animations, bold and heavy on graphic design are present, and we’ve spent some time working on revisiting core CM apps to reflect the new design guidelines.
The CM Messaging app is now sporting a floating action button (FAB) and circular avatars for your contacts, embracing the most common indicators of Material. The app is now Android Wear compliant, thanks to contributor Anthony Williams (dexlab) – allowing it to gel nicely with the latest hot Android accessory.
Browser, abandoned for the most part in AOSP, got a facelift as well, sporting a new icon and making use of Lollipop’s vector support.
The same story applies to other apps, including the FM radio app seen on some of our Qualcomm based devices. Contributor Joey Rizzoli has led the UI revamp of a lot of apps to a large degree – with icons being provided by Jovie Brett Bardoles.
But we’re not through yet!
CyanogenMod File Manager
This venerable app has been a CM staple for quite a few years now. While it too has seen the Material UI overhaul and even learned a new trick or two with zip/rar and secure storage support, its user experience (UX) isn’t the most ideal or easy to navigate. To that end, it’s the next app on our todo list, and we’d love to have your input!
So we pose to you a simple question: How would you improve the File Manager? Let us know in the comments or this linked form.
Of course, the work done on the apps side doesn’t preclude all the device support as our team is all about division of tasks. CyanogenMod’s L flavor sees us bringing support for a fair number of devices, and plenty of new ones as well (107 devices currently receive CM12 nightlies). We’ll take this moment to discuss some of the newest additions to the CM family and the devices they brought to the party!
New friends and devices
– SkrilaxCZ – bringing you the Moto Maxx (quark)
– Luk1337 – bringing you the Moto G 2014 (titan)
– Percy-g2 & Scritch007 – bringing you the Moto E 2014 (condor)
– Eousphoros – bringing you the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (klimtwifi)
– Invisiblek & maniac103 – bringing you the Oppo N3 (n3)
– Gekkehenkie11 & Slayher – bringing you the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Intl (trltexx)
– Crpalmer – bringing you the Moto X 2014 (victara)
– Varunchitre & FXP – bringing you the Sony Xperia L (taoshan)
– Woundtight – bringing you the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 US Cellular (trlteusc)
– Drcrimzon & Slayher – bringing you the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Sprint and T-Mobile (trltespr,trltetmo)
– Slayher – bringing you the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 T-Mobile (hltetmo)
– Savoca, Invisiblek – bringing you the LG G3 (d850,d851,d852,d855)
– Cdesai & FXP – bringing you the Sony Z3 and Compact (z3,z3c)
– Cdesai & FXP – bringing you the Sony Z3 tablet (scorpion,scorpion_windy)
– SkrilaxCZ – bringing you the Droid Maxx (obake)
– Dhacker29 – bringing you the Nexus 6 (shamu)
– Simonsickle – bringing you the Nexus 9 (flounder)
This list is ever expanding, and we already have more maintainers coming on board to assist with additional devices – they just aren’t nightly ready yet. If your device is listed above, you now know who to thank for bringing the Lollipop experience to your device – you can find most of these folks on the usual social media networks, or stop by #cyanogenmod on Freenode IRC to say “hi”.
This is also a good point to mention that we are always on the lookout for regressions in behavior, even on nightlies. If you flash between nightlies and see something broken that was working properly before, please report it to our JIRA project category “NIGHTLIES”.
Goodbye unified, we hardly knew you
Observant readers will notice that the device variants, particularly for Samsung and Moto devices have once again been broken out into individual builds, counter to our announcement for CM11.
We are officially reverting the decision of using unified builds, as mentioned in that post, with CM12 and beyond.
We’re always conscious of build times, maintenance overhead and other common issues plaguing our contributors. The unified builds, at the time, proved to be an answer for a lot of those headaches – instead of pushing a change to 3-4 device repositories, we could make just one change. Instead of building 3-4 times, our maintainers could use one build to test across all variants. It sounded ideal, and was worth the effort.
So why the retraction? As you are all likely aware of, different carriers and regions receive updates to stock firmware at (putting it nicely) odd intervals. That means even if the device shared 95% of the same guts, the firmware wouldn’t necessarily be compliant across all the device variants. This was particularly prone to failures when looking at items like sensors and NFC. The effect snowballed, d2 and jf users will no doubt chime in here, and the overall quality of release for these unified devices fell.
We’re not ones to hold onto failed ideas, more about iteration and learning, and so we’ve reversed that prior decision. You’ll still be able to update from your CM11 unified to CM12 device variant release, but we will be abandoning the unified builds, and instead focusing on project structures that allow us to make use of ‘–common’ projects (ex. Jf-common). So, look out for jflteatt, spr, tmo and the other variants as their own builds moving forward. Motorola devices like the xt907, xt925, and xt926 share the same story and are likewise de-unified in CM12.
Next time, on All About L
This seems to be a sensible stopping point for this part of the update. Stay tuned next week as we take a feature dive into CyanogenMod 12 – including new soon-to-be favorites like Ambient Display and LiveDisplay (think f.lux like capability).
Until then, Happy Flashing!