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CyanogenMod 7 brings Gingerbread to 28 phones, two tablets

Apr 11, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Doing its part to fight Android fragmentation, Cyanogen and his band of mobile hackers have released a modified version of Android 2.3.3 optimized for some 30 devices still awaiting carrier updates. CyanogenMod 7 (CM7) adds to Gingerbread with power-user features found in the previous Froyo version (CM6), and supports its first two tablets: the ViewSonic G-Tablet and Barnes & Noble Nook Color.

CyanogenMod 7 is designed to "increase performance and reliability over Android-based ROMs released by vendors and carriers," according to Cyanogen (Steve Kondik), known for his many modding experiments with Android. These include adding multitouch to the Nexus One phone before the feature was formally introduced by Google.

Last year, Kondik's open source project released a CyanogenMod 6 that updated earlier Android phones to the major Android 2.2 ("Froyo") release. The group is now doing the same for the somewhat more modest Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread"), offering the latest Android 2.3.3 update.

The modified ROM offers Android 2.2 ("Froyo") users early access to Gingerbread features. In fact, for most it will be the only look at Android 2.3, as the majority of devices appear to be skipping over Android 2.3 to Android 2.4. Also rumored to be called "Gingerbread," Android 2.4 is expected to add multi-core support, among other features.

Android 2.3 introduced users of the Samsung-built, Google branded Nexus S phone (pictured) to a new user interface, support for front-facing cameras, and enhanced gaming performance. "Gingerbread" also added SIP/VOIP features, as well as the VP8 and WebM video formats. One feature that CyanogenMod 7 users probably won't be able to tap is the new Near Field Communication (NFC) support, since so far the Nexus S remains the only shipping Android phone equipped with an NFC chip.

CyanogenMod 7 adds "most of the great features from CM6 you know and love, and many new ones including support for several tablets," writes Kondik. He notes, however, that a few CyanogenMod 6 features won't arrive for the Gingerbread version until a 7.1 release.

The release is free, but requires rooting one's device, which typically voids the warranty. In addition, Cyanogen warns that while the release has been optimized for 30 devices, it is also "capable of pushing your phone much harder" than it is accustomed to, which can result in some instability. Backups — and donations — are heavily recommended by the project. 

The two supported tablets are the ViewSonic G-Tablet (pictured at right), available with an Nvidia Tegra 2 processor in both seven- and 10.1-inch versions, as well as the Barnes & Noble seven-inch Nook Color e-reader (below, left). B&N just announced it was offering some Android developer tools for the Nook Color. 

CyanogenMod 7.0 ships with the ADW Launcher instead of the stock launcher — the only change disliked by PC Magazine's PJ Jacobwitz in this hands-on overview. Jacobwitz did praise, however, the faster speed (presumably compared to Froyo), improved battery life, and enhanced multitouch keyboard. He also liked the use of stock Android apps for most functions instead of the "optimized" versions in UI layers such as HTC Sense.

Other nice touches are said to include an option to change the lockscreen, a new reflow text option, a Wi-Fi hotspot option, and more power widget shortcuts.

According to this Wired report, CyanogenMod 7 offers major Gingerbread updates to the keyboard and texting tools that reduce reported Froyo problems with selecting text for copying and pasting. In addition it provides a vastly improved battery usage app, and an update to the camera app that makes it easy to switch between front and back facing cameras, says the story.

CyanogenMod 7 add-ons not found in Gingerbread are said to include built-in CPU clocking (over or under), and the ability to install more apps to an SD card. Other value-added features include custom wallpapers and themes, and some tweaks to the music player that allows for pausing via the camera button, says Wired.


CyanogenMod 7 is available now for free download. The project recommends using ROM Manager, available on Android Market, to install the update. More information may be found at the CyanogenMod site. Supported devices are found on this CyanogenMod 7 device support page.

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