The makers of one of the most popular custom ROMs for Android phones and tablets are doing away “stable” releases, instead promising to offer new builds every 2-4 weeks as CyanogenMod “M” releases.
What does this mean for users? Not much really. It’s really more of a name change than anything: but names can be important. In this case, the word “stable” might have led people to assume that they could download a build of CyanogenMod and expect few-to-no bugs and a complete, unchanging set of features.
That was never really true for a community-built operating system designed to run across a wide range of hardware that the developers had no control over.
Instead, the CyanogenMod team explains stable releases were used as a marker during the development process that helped keep track of bugs, among other things.
Now the team is offering CyanogenMod M releases every 4 weeks, which means that folks who don’t want to download “nightly” builds which have a habit of introducing bugs from time to time as well as patching them, you can wait for a monthly build that will have a batch of updates including bug fixes and new features.
Eventually the CyanogenMod team plans to move to a 2-week release for its “M” builds, which means that every 2 weeks you’ll be able to install a new version of the software that’s about as “stable” as any earlier version that wore that label would have been.
The latest version of CyanogenMod is CM 11 M6, and it includes an updated Theme Engine, support for hidden apps and labels in the app launcher, options for smaller tiles in the Quick Settings panel, and a number of other updates and bug fixes.
But a new version will be along in about a month… and much like the rapid release schedules for the Firefox and Chrome web browsers, that means not every new version of CyanogenMod will be particularly notable to folks who aren’t die-hard followers of the team’s every move.
But it also means that folks looking for relatively stable releases won’t have to wait long for new builds… and shouldn’t ever expect the software to be absolutely stable.
It’s not clear that any of this holds true for CyanogenMod 11S builds which are commercial software developed for CyanogenMod, Inc for phones like the upcoming OnePlus One.