One of the best things about Android is its customisation – if you don’t like an app that comes on the phone, you can quickly and easily rip it out and replace it with something you like better. You can even do this on the OS level, taking out the particular flavour of Android OS your phone came with and replacing it with stock Android or a customised version developed by the Android community. These new versions, called ROMs, often include new features and allow further customisation beyond what normally ships on a retail phone.
One of the most popular ROMs is CyanogenMod, which offers the stock Android user interface with a few added features and additional options. The project has just reached an important milestone – the first stable release of its Jelly Bean-based OS, called CyanogenMod 10.
If you want to go for a stock Android experience instead of Samsung’s TouchWiz or HTC’s Sense, really customise your phone’s look and feel, or bring the latest version of Android to a handset forgotten by its manufacturers, then CyanogenMod 10 could well be worth a look. For example, CyanogenMod 10 could be a brilliant HTC One S accessory, freeing the phone from the dubiously designed Sense 4 and updating the phone to Jelly Bean before HTC does.
To get started you’ll need a little working knowledge of Android and a cautious demeanour Before you begin, you’ll need to have unlocked the bootloader of your phone, installed ClockworkMod recovery and rooted as well – tasks best explained by the XDA Developers forum relevant to your phone.
You can download CyanogenMod 10 for your device from the official download page. Press Ctrl+F to search for your device on the page. It helps to know its codename, which helps differentiate different hardware models of the same phone, e.g. the GSM Galaxy Nexus is ‘maguro’ and the Verizon version is ‘toro’.
Good luck with it, and let me know how you get on! Just don’t blame me if you turn your phone into a paperweight – it’s rare, but it can happen if you’re not careful.