Cyanogenmod 11S Review (OnePlus One Software)
Cyanogenmod 11S is the ROM that comes with the OnePlus One. And because the phone’s advertising (what little of it that they do) focuses a lot on the user experience and on the software, I thought it would be worth it doing a review of the software, since software is what makes and breaks the phone and is what the user interacts with every time they pick and use the phone. It’s an especially important factor considering the fact that most high end phones have similar specifications, and there isn’t much difference in that respect. So, without any further ado, let’s get to it…
The lockscreen is clean and simple, and one of the only things that differs greatly from the stock Android experience. Pulling down anywhere fro the middle will unlock the screen. It shows you the time and the date, as well as the weather and battery life and any emails you might have. However, in the lockscreen settings within the settings menu, it gives you the option to disable the custom lockscreen and return it to the stock lockscreen, with Cyanogenmod touches, for example slider shortcuts or a battery status ring around the lockscreen target. In addition to that, you get the option of enabling custom widgets, as with vanilla Android.
CM (Cyanogenmod) used their own homescreen, called Trebuchet, which is essentially the stock Android lockscreen (which has now changed to the Google Experience Launcher) but with more options within the settings. It does not, however, have the Google Now page to one side of it, meaning you have to set an action with the onscreen/offscreen buttons (more on that later).
Status bar/Notification drawer/Quick Settings menu/Power Menu
This is what I think most manufacturers mess up big time. They try to put everything everywhere, meaning you get some quick settings option in the notification drawer and even more in the quick settings menu. Now although CM adds a “quick access ribbon”, they give you the option to remove it easily and thankfully don’t overload it with settings. To help you get to the quick settings menu quicker they give you the option of having a quick pulldown from either the left side or the ride side (if you pulldown the notification drawer from whichever side you have chosen in the settings, it will bring down the quick start menu instead, letting you access the tiles easier). In terms of the actual tiles in the quick settings menu, as usual with Cyanogenmod it lets you customise and choose what tiles you want. For example, you can add an orientation locker or remove the user profile, and change the position of any of the tiles. There is a whole list of things that can be added to the quick settings menu. The power menu is also customisable, but less so than the quick settings menu. In addition to the default reboot menu, aeroplane mode and sound panel, you can also add a screenshot taker, profile switcher (more on that later as well) and an expanded desktop button.
CM 11S also comes with a couple apps already included within the phone (with the exception of the standard Google Apps). They are screencast (which uses the native KitKat api to record to screen and microphone. I used it for the gifs (you can’t create gifs with it, I used separate software for that) and it has an extremely simple interface. It has a start screenccast button and a stop button, which can be used if you open up the app again after you’ve started recording), sounds recorder (which is a simple app for recording the sounds picked up by your microphone), audio fx (which is an excellent audio equaliser with tons of included presets for all types of music and reverb options. It also comes with a dedicated surround sound slider and bass boost slider for all you bass lovers out there), file manager (which is CM’s simple, but very limited file manager. This means although it’s fine for viewing and moving around some files, getting third party apps from the Google PlayStore is a much better solution to the need of having a file manager. One example of it’s limited function is the inability to view and extract, a feature I use almost every day), and a simple torch app with a button in the middle for enabling and disabling the torch. All in all CM doesn’t include any bloatware, since it doesn’t really offer any services that manufacturers such as Samsung and HTC would have, but that’s a good thing since it means we don’t have any software that we don’t want or need to use. The apps they do include are useful and have a very real use.
11S comes pre-installed with CM’s new theme engine, which you can install on any rooted phone from the PlayStore. Click here to see a review of it, and any details you want to know.
11S comes with a special gestures feature, which lets you trace shapes on the screen of the phone when it is in standby. The options are drawing a circle to activate the camera, drawing a V shape the toggle the camera LED to act as a flashlight, and music controls (two fingers vertically to play/pause a track, left arrow for previous track and right arrow for next track).
One of the unique features is the ability to turn on an on-screen navbar or the capacitive touch buttons off screen. So if you want you can use the Google-preferred method of an on-screen navigation bar or do the classic thing of using the capactive touch buttons off screen. You can customise these as well, which means change the actions of any of the capacitive buttons (can’t change what they look like) and change what each one does on long press or what the home button does on double tap. You can also change the position of the on-screen navbars, but since they are on screen you can also change what they look like and what position each of the buttons is in.
It is also possible to change the screen calibration settings. Within the Display and Lights settings menu there is a screen colour menu, which comes with two preset modes and the third one lets you customise the screen calibration however you want. I would leave it at standard, because the screen is calibrated well enough.
All in all,
This is a pretty standard version of Cyanogenmod, with a few extra and unique features that you will only find with 11S and therefore this phone. It’s well optimised and everything runs smoothly, and the features that it does include are useful ones and not gimmicky ones, and thankfully it doesn’t do a Samsung where it includes a bunch of completely useless features that have no use in daily life.