It’s been almost a year since the developers behind the popular CyanogenMod version of Android began working on CyanogenMod 9. After months of release candidates and nightly builds, the team has released the first stable version of CM9 for the GSM Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone.
Update: It looks like the Galaxy Nexus release was a little premature. The CyanogenMod team plans to start rolling out CM9 stable for a larger number of devices tonight.
CyanogenMod 9 is based on Google Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. It includes a number of software tweaks, performance optimizations, and customization options, as well as custom artwork.
While the Galaxy Nexus is the first device to get official support for CM9, there are nightly releases available for dozens of additional phones and tablets. Many of these will likely be updated to CM9 soon.
One of the key advantages to CyanogenMod is that the custom Android firmware lets users update phones and tablets to the latest versions of Android even if the phone manufacturer doesn’t offer an official upgrade path. If you’ve been stuck on Android 2.3 indefinitely, CM9 (or other custom ROMs) provide an unofficial way to run more recent software.
But it took a long time for the CyanogenMod team to make the transition to Android 4.0 since the code is so dramatically different than that for Android 2.3. The move from Android 4.0 to Android 4.1 is expected to happen much more quickly, and CyanogenMod 10 is already under development, and nightly builds of CM10 are coming soon.