An OS might be considered the most important aspect of a smartphone – something which can make or break the reputation of the device. The reason behind this is simple – the OS is that part of a device which actually communicates with the user. It is essentially responsible for managing all hardware resources, and the absence of a good OS will make devices with even the best of hardwares fail.
Recently, we have talked about rooting and the benefits it brings to an Android Device. Once a user has rooted his smartphone device, the next logical step in the path to bring out the best in his device is flashing/installing a Custom ROM or customised OS into his device. A custom ROM is ROM developed by a user/developer which has modified software features, and thus can improve the device’s performance drastically. Flashing a custom ROM has numerous benefits, and let us discuss some of them.
Most manufacturers are slow with Android updates. Other than Google, which releases the new Android OS versions for its flagship devices on the same day that the OS has been released, no other manufacturer can claim to provide same-day or even same-week updates when there are major changes in the OS. Moreover, updates also depend on the region – a manufacturer might provide a software update in parts of Asia but may not make them available in Europe.
However, as soon as a new, updated version of the stock Google ROM is released, developers modify it to create Custom ROMs with the stock ROM as the base. By flashing these custom ROMs, users can enjoy the benefit of the new upgraded Android OS without waiting for the manufacturer to release the updates.
Modify the Look
Custom ROMs can have a distinctive and appealing look, and those who are fed up by the looks of their boring manufacturer’s stock ROM can flash custom ROMs to change the look of their UI. Most custom ROMs have a distinguishing look, and developers believe in providing a clean interface to users. Moreover, users of popular Android devices can select from amongst a number of Custom ROMs the ROM whose looks attracts them the most, and flash them on their device.
Removal of Bloatware
While rooting itself provides users with features to remove bloatware and pre-loaded apps from the manufacturer’s stock ROM, users still have to choose which apps to remove and which apps are useful enough to keep. Custom ROMs provide an easy solution to this time-taking problem – developers already select and remove bloatware apps from the custom ROMs, keeping merely those apps which are useful. As a result all the user has to do is flash the new Custom ROM and enjoy a ROM minus the annoying bloatware. Some ROMs even provide the users with the option of selecting which apps to install while flashing the ROM.
With the removal of annoying bloatware, users receive a stripped down, light Custom ROM. This will help free up the RAM and provide more internal memory for important applications to run, resulting in enhanced performance.
Moreover, custom ROMs come with custom Kernels – and users will have the ability to overclock their device. Overclocking will result in an increase in processing power, again aiding to the performance.
Battery Life Enhancement
Again, as Bloatware has been removed, there would be no battery leeching unwanted sorftware running in the background of the device when using Custom ROMs. As a result, users will witness an increase in Battery life. Underclocking the device can also help in saving battery as it will result in the processor functioning at lower processing power and therefore taking up less battery to function.
The speciality of Custom ROMs lies in what they offer to the user in terms of features. Custom ROMs bring to the user unique features in the shape of pre-applied custom mods. These modifications may range from the very simple, such as the ability to increase speaker sound beyond the manufacturer provided limit, to the complex,like the ability to open apps in multiwindows using the HALO mod.
Mods and features attract users to these ROMs, and developers are continuously engrossed in providing updated mods and features in their custom ROMs.
With Android devices and hardware being updated on a regular basis, users change their device much frequently. When shifting from one manufacturer to another, users will have to change the stock interface of their device too. Those of us who want to have some kind of consistency in the UI, can opt for custom ROMs, as the same Custom ROM might be ported for different devices, bringing a familiar environment to users.
Popular ROMs like ParanoidAndroid or CyanogenMod which are available for a large number of devices have many loyalist fans who only use them on their devices, enjoying the hardware of their new smartphones with the comforting and familiar software features of their old custom ROMs.
There are particular apps which are manufacturer provided and are only available with devices from a particular manufacturer. Some of these apps turn out to be very useful, and users with devices from other manufacturer might like to use these apps. Developers can port any such apps on a custom ROM and make them available for those devices which otherwise wouldn’t have been able to use such apps.
Developers sometimes even manage to port complete ROMs for other devices. This allows user the feature of using a ROM from a different manufacturer on their devices. For example, HTC Sense 6, which is HTC’s stock ROM, has been ported for Google’s Nexus 5 and other Google devices. Users can thus undertake the HTC experience on their Google smartphone, without buying a HTC device.
Each custom ROM brings a unique, distinctive experience with itself. Popular ROMs have trademark features which attracts users to them, and which makes them popular.
For example, ParanoidAndroid (PA) is credited for its beautiful display features, with per-app selections and modifications available, AOKP ROMs are known for the software mods they provide, PACman ROM will bring to the user a mixture of popular features from PA, AOKP and CyanogenMod etc. Depending upon individual preferences, users can choose the ROM which seems like the best option to them.
Testing and Updating
Users are not only the end-users of these ROMs, they also serve as testers for these ROMs. While this might imply that for not-so popular ROMs users might have to deal with software issues, for Popular ROMs which have experienced developers working on them, users can actually test and suggest more features for the ROM.
Developers on Android forums incorporate those features on their ROMs which are the most demanded by users, and good developers always listen to users. Therefore, even an individual user has the power to communicate with the developer and suggest to him new features and enhancements. Moreover, developers keep posting regular updates to their ROMs at a very high frequency.
Custom ROMs enhance the Android experience tenfold. One can even go ahead to say that the Android OS is built for Custom ROMs – Google itself realizes this, and financially supports the Android Open Source project. These ROMs exemplify the essence of Google’s Android OS – the ability to be an open, ever-developing, free-for-all interface which provides users freedom in a world where smartphone/tablet manufacturers work hard to restrict a user’s access on his own device. They are all about getting more out of your device, and using custom ROMs, users can be assured of getting their money’s worth.