Android 4.4.4-based CyanogenMod M8 released with lock protected apps

Android 4.4.4-based CyanogenMod M8 released with lock protected apps

Summary: The latest snapshot release of custom Android ROM CyanogenMod brings a slew of new features, including the hidden Heads Up notifications feature and more controls to lockdown private apps.

TOPICS: Mobility, Android

CynaogenMod's latest snapshot update for its KitKat-based ROM has rolled out, bringing a host of security features to its most stable version of CM 11.0 to M8.

Smartphone owners who've ditched their OEM builds of Android can begin flashing the latest version of CyanogenMod's popular alternative to some of the 50-odd devices supported by the CM 11 M8 build. New among the list of supported devices in this version are the Sony Xperia Z2, Xioami Mi2, Oppo Find, and OnePlus One.

The update contains a number of bug and security fixes as well as a few new features recently flagged by CyanogenMod developers.

Heads up. Image: CyanogenMod

CM 11.0 M8 carries forward some features from the less stable nightlies, including the new 'Heads Up' notification mode that's buried in the Android Open Source Project code but never showed up on Nexus devices. The feature enables notifications that hover over an active application, allowing the user to respond to them without leaving the app. Since it can also interrupt gaming or watching a video, CM 11.0 M8 adds a 'do not disturb’ filter to prevent the feature interrupting games or other apps.

Another useful privacy and security feature — beyond CM's Privacy Guard to control app permissions and encrypted messaging — is a new way to lock down apps that users would prefer remain hidden on the launcher display. Individual apps can be hidden as usual but with the additional protection of a pattern unlock to prevent access. It also introduced protected folders to lock down multiple apps — for example banking-related apps.

 The update also makes a number of changes to settings, replacing the old generic "interface" category with more specific items such as "status bar", "notification drawer", and "gestures". It also moved expanded desktop to the 'display' setting and grouped all 'lock screen' settings under the this header.

Security issues and bugs that are fixed include the VPN issues that emerged for some users after Android 4.4.2. It also contains a fix for the Towelroot exploit, which gave root access to nearly every Android device on the market.

Protected apps. Image: CyanogenMod

The exploit, which took advantage of a Linux kernel bug (assigned the CVE-2014-3153 identifier), was developed by well-known modder, GeoHot.

While it was designed to liberate Android devices from OEM lockdowns, it also posed a threat, as outlined by Lacoon Security, since it could allow an attacker to run malware with administrative privileges, install a backdoor, and bypass enterprise data protection features such as secure containers, wrappers, and hardened apps.    

CyanogenMod's M release builds are the most stable it offers following its decision earlier this year to drop 'stable' builds. Downloads for each supported device are listed under its "snapshot" builds.   

The full change log includes

  • Common: Android 4.4.4 (Google)
  • New Devices: Sony Xperia Z2 (sirius); Xiaomi Mi2 (aries); Oppo Find 7a/s (find7); OnePlus One (bacon)
  • Common: Fix VPN issues related to 4.4.3 merge
  • Common: Enable 'Heads Up' notification mode (Settings > Notifications)
  • Settings: 'Interface' replaced by 'Status Bar', 'Notification Drawer', and 'Gestures'
  • Settings: Moved 'Expanded Desktop' to 'Display'
  • Settings: Moved all lock screen related items to 'Lock Screen' and removed duplicates from 'Security'
  • Settings: Moved 'Navigation Bar' layout control to 'Buttons'
  • Trebuchet: Custom Homescreen grid size
  • Trebuchet: Add Protected Apps feature
  • Trebuchet: Add Search Panel (Google Now) option
  • WhisperPush: No longer ignores 'Blacklist'
  • Futex: Protect against Towelroot
  • Various small bugfixes, global and device-specific

Topics: Mobility, Android

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • I miss CM11

    Had to go back to Moto Blur because AOSP Exchange services are unstable and stop syncing randomly when pushed hard with thousand of contacts and multiple accounts.

    At least Xposed framework can bring back some of the cool stuff like appops.
  • Likin' my CMod 11

    Got my TF300T (Not G or L) rooted (for 2 years now), and on CMod KK (since M7) 4.4.4. No problems noted. Also got it running Go Laucher EX Cyanogen Mod Theme (Blue). Those Guys, and Gals, and really know their stuff. I like my ASUS Tablet, but I think I Love CMod. As far as those extras....I have to check those goodies out. Just spendin' my time enjoying the fact that my "Ole Faithful" is still alive and kickin', Thanks to those CMod Guys and Gals. Now, I just have to find a CMOD for my rooted 7" Eviant MT7001 on 4.1.1, and then root / CMod my 7" ASUS Me172v on 4.1.1 (the latter is real problematic). ......Anyway, again Thanks, CMod. No Problems Here. "I got nuthin' but love far ya".
  • Interestingly Android 4.4.4 Has been around for most of the past month

    Since the release of Android 4.4.2, Team EOS has been working to get a stable version of Android 4.4.4 released. for the venerable Xoom tablet. As of July 1st there are 3 different versions of Android 4.4.4 available for rooted Xoom tablets. Team EOS, Omnirom, and CM11 have all released versions of the OS. In fact, all of these are available OTA to those who have been using earlier versions.

    There are still issues to be resolved, but it's nice to know that we're still running with the wolves at the bleeding edge of the technology. By the way, thanks for the description of the new capabilities of the OS, saves us the time we would need to write this, and now we can spend the time we would need to write this to give detailed instructions on their user, and fix the problems we still have.

    Thank You.
    Robert Christopulos
  • Unshackled!....

    Free!....from Ghoul-gel!.!....Can't wait to try this out!'s to hoping!...
  • CM-11 (4.4.4 is found to be Stable but Mobile-Net or Wifi ! with Galaxy S2)

    I have already tried and used, "".

    Is Stable and Good. You need to install minimal version of "Gapps for 4.4.4" and should install remaining Apps from Play Store ! for proper functionality !

    I have only one feature got toggled off, after I had come from "Gummy", is...

    Either Mobile-Net or Wifi gets turned off automatically while other one is activated, which was not the case previously.

    May be it requires some additional work around or patch !

    Thanks ... Giridhar
  • Social Notification Bar on Your site.

    ZDNet, please get rid of that social bar that blocks my reading of your articles when I pinch and zoom even a little bit. I like your articles. I can't read that small though. Even with glasses. What is pinch and zoom good for when your bars block the view? Thanks so much.
    Linda Goodman