Cyanogenmod 13: It’s here! (OnePlus One)

cyanogenmodopo

 

Oh, that sweet tasting Marshmallow. Please note that all the experiences in this article are based on usage from a OnePlus One, and I can’t comment on the support and experience of other devices. Cyanogenmod 13 is still in its nightly stage, and is not suitable for daily use (even though we all do it anyway).

 

The level of progress between major updates on Android has been slowing, as it has been slowing on iOS and as one might expect it to slow as an OS progresses through time. Initially I didn’t even notice the Marshmallow (Cyanogenmod 13) update. Maybe that was because I was wondering why Google Play Services crashed literally every two seconds and meant it was impossible to do anything (more on that later). But there are certainly subtle differences that, in my opinion, make the experience of Android better than it already was.

Features

Although one of the quirks of updating an entire version of an OS with a custom ROM is that you’re not sure what’s part of the ROM and what’s AOSP, I’m going to list some of the new features in the Cyanogenmod 13 update, or any changes that have occurred to the ROM. I won’t go over official AOSP changes.

  1. Quick Settings Tiles
    Instead of having to go through the settings app to change the tiles in the quick settings menu, it is now possible to use the “Edit Tiles” tile to add, move about or remove tiles as you please. Annoyingly, this has resulted in a reduction in custom tiles (for example there isn’t a separate tile controlling LiveDisplay anymore, as there was in Cyanogenmod 12.1).

    Quick settings menu, with option to edit tiles.

    Quick settings menu, with option to edit tiles.

  2. Double Tap for Camera
    There is now an extra option in settings allowing you to open the camera wherever you are in the phone, and whether it is locked or not with a simple double tap of the power button. Unless the camera is already open in the background, it will take quite a while the launch the camera app, so I recommend you don’t clear the camera app from the background, if you’re the type of person that habitually clears their recent apps tab.
  3. Clear all
    The clear all recent apps button has been moved to the bottom of all the open apps. Previously, it had been stickied to the top right, while now it appears after scrolling to the bottom. It also appears to have reduced in size, meaning that it is slightly harder to hit than it previously was, although this is a minor inconvenience. Personally I preferred the old positioning, but I do think this is a much cleaner implementation.

    Clear all button has been repositioned to the bottom

    Clear all button has been repositioned to the bottom

  4. Smart Lock
    There have been a couple of minor changes. If your screen is on, but your phone locked, you can unlock it by saying Ok Google. Annoyingly, they removed the function that would automatically unlock your phone if the pin entered was correct, removing the step of pressing the arrow to unlock your phone. Extremely trivial, but still annoying.

Bugs

Ah, the fun bit. There are quite a few important bus that need to be mentioned. Especially when flashing the ROM for the first time, one might encounter some pretty phone breaking bugs. I’ll go through what I experienced, and what helped fix it.

  1. Bootloop
    The classic. This happened to me on my first attempt at flashing. The phone finished optimising apps and then redid the whole process again. Reflashing Cyanogenmod 12.1, then Cyanogenmod 13 again was the only thing that fixed it. Luckily the OnePlus One is a pretty resilient phone.
  2. Google Play Services has stopped working
    No amount of reports will fix this one quickly. Although I ended up downloading various Gapps packages and flashing those, I ended up figuring out the solution was in a way more simple, but also quite unexpected. All you had to do was navigate to settings, the apps, then select Google Play Services, Permissions and then make sure everything is selected. This is a lot harder when the bloody notification pops up every one and a half seconds, so it might take a couple of minutes to actually navigate to wherever you need to be.
  3. [x] has stopped working
    You might/will encounter this issue with other apps. If any apps randomly keep crashing, make sure all their permissions are enabled in settings. The only exception that I have currently found is the default Clock app. That refuses to start at all or play any of your alarms, so bear in mind before updating, the stock clock app will not work. If you need to use an alarm there are many third party apps which should work, but please remember to download these and set them up. You’re responsible for being late to work, not Cyanogenmod for not telling you your alarm has been turned off. It’s all part of the daily grind of using nightlies.
  4. Verifying app purchases.
    This one is extremely annoying. For some reason, the mechanism behind verifying app purchases is extremely buggy/broken. Specifically, Poweramp for me has been a pain to use the past couple of days. When I don’t have a reliable data or WiFi connection, the app is unable to connect to Google to verify that I’ve purchased the app (I have) and therefore automatically closes. I’ve had to use the Google Play Music app a couple of times when that has happened. There doesn’t seem to be much consistency to when it does it (normally it “resets” after a while, or after a nightly), and I have yet to figure out how to stop this completely. This has only happened with one other app, and to be fair both seem to be working fine after updating to the latest nightly, then getting a reliable internet connection and making sure both apps have been verifies. Although no tell on what happens after the next update, or when there is no internet connection.

Almost there

Considering this is quite literally some of the first builds of Cyanogenmod 13 on the OnePlus One, it’s doing quite well. It could have done better by automatically enabling permissions to those apps that needed it at the start, or at the very least warned people. All things considering, in my opinion its worth the jump, and if you can handle the initial setup and the odd bug the new battery optimisations and performance improvements feel very nice. The new set of animations are my favourite, as well as Google Now On Tap. It still needs improvement, but can be very useful from drawing information from a page.

Praise Duarte!

 

More stylish clock, with bolder text

More stylish clock, with bolder text

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