Android 6.0 Marshmallow gives users more control over permissions used by apps, the ability to treat microSD cards like internal storage, support for Google Now on Tap, and much more. But only a handful of smartphones and tablets currently ship with Android 6.0 and if you don’t have a Nexus device you might have to wait a little while for an update.
Or you could unlock your bootloader and install a custom ROM. Developers have been offering unofficial builds of Android 6.0 for many devices for months. Now the developers of one of the most popular custom builds of Android is releasing its version of Android 6.0 for a handful of devices.
CyanogenMod 13 nightlies are now available for 7 phones and tablets. Support for additional devices is on the way.
At launch, here’s the list of supported hardware:
- Google Nexus 7 (2013 WiFi and LTE models)
- LG G3 Verizon (vs985) smartphone
- LG G4 (815) smartphone
- LG G Pad 7 (v400 and v410) tablets
- Motorola Moto X 2014 smartphone
- OnePlus One
CyanogenMod 13 is based on the open source Android 6.0 code released by Google, but it’s been modified to support the hardware in these specific devices. The developers also include some custom apps and features, including a file manager and starting with CM13, support for a Live Lockscreen which allows animated wallpapers to be displayed when the device is locked.
CyanogenMod is open source software, but it’s related to the commercial Cyanogen OS firmware which smartphone makers can opt to install on devices before they’re shipped to customers.
Recently the folks at Cyanogen Inc created a bit of a bridge between the open source operating system and the company’s closed-source apps and tools by offering the Cyanogen Apps Package, which gives users an option of installing additional tools including custom email and dialer apps and a theme store.
Note that the nightly releases CyanogenMod is now offering are still rather experimental. They’re called nightlies because new builds are released every night, with potential bug fixes and feature addition. But those builds can also introduce new bugs, and that means that your phone may run perfectly with one build, but have problems with the next nightly release.
So if you care about reliability and you’re currently using CyanogenMod 12.x or the software that came with your phone, you may want to wait for CM13 to be labeled “stable” before you install it. Or if you’re a flashaholic, you could always backup your device, flash CM13, and then flash back if you run into any problems.