Google may be preparing to introduce Android 4.1 in a few days, but fans of custom versions of Android have something else to look forward to even sooner: CyanogenMod 9 RC1 could be available as soon as tonight.
CyanogenMod is a custom version of Android which can be installed on dozens of phones and tablets. CM9 is based on Android 4.0 and it’s been in testing for months. The latest stable version of CyanogenMod is technically CM7.2 based on Android 2.3.
But CyanogenMod founder Steve Kondik has approved the bump from “nightly” to “release candidate” in the code repository, which means tonight instead of a nightly build we could get CyanogenMod 9 RC1.
Update: It’s official. On 6/26/2012, the developers released CyanogenMod 9 RC1 for the first 37 devices.
The move would be largely symbolic. The only difference between a nightly release and a release candidate is that the developers think the software is almost ready to call stable. The next build won’t include any major features that weren’t in last night’s release.
Unless any major bugs are found in the release candidate phase, we could see CyanogenMod 9 stable within the next few weeks.
Not only is CyanogenMod 9 based on the Android Open Source Project (which means it doesn’t include any of the custom skins you get from most HTC, Samsung, or Motorola devices), but it also includes a number of tweaks to improve performance and offer more customization options.
For instance CM9 includes a custom launcher, a new music player, support for themes, and widgets for the lock screen.
It will probably take the developers less time to move from Android 4.0 to Android 4.1 than it took to update from Android 2.3 to Android 4.0 since the upcoming changes in Google’s operating system aren’t expected to be as dramatic.
You can always download the latest stable, release candidate, and nightly builds of CyanogenMod from the CM website.