Want to get KitKat early? Dodge the Android bloatware? Here are four ROMs to try

Want to get KitKat early? Dodge the Android bloatware? Here are four ROMs to try

Summary: Most consumers just live with the version of Android that manufacturers ship with their device — and the updates they choose to deliver — but that doesn't need to be so. Here's a look at several alternative versions out there to pick from.

TOPICS: Android

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  • Paranoid Android

    The developers behind Paranoid Android have impressed the ROM's large fan base with the launch of HALO multitasking bubble last year.

    The developers took a leaf from Facebook's Chat Heads for the concept, which handles and displays messages from different social media and messaging accounts.

    Another feature it's known for is PIE controls, which fan out Android's bottom three buttons with a swipe. It was popular enough for CyanogenMod to later include the feature in its builds. 

    Image: Paranoid Android


  • OmniROM

    OmniROM is a newcomer that's quickly gaining in popularity and supports around 30 devices, including popular Nexus, Oppo, Sony, Samsung, HTC, Asus, and LG models.

    Announced in October last year, some of the features the developers behind OmniROM have built into their nightlies include richer audio controls, per-app permissions, and a unique incoming call notifier that slides up unobtrusively from the display.

    OmniROM is also working on "integrated phone number search", which offers OpenStreetMap or Google Places based number searchers. The user would type keywords or a place's name into the Dialer search bar and would be returned a list of relevant numbers.

    The developers are focussed on delivering new features to its Android 4.4-based builds, though it does have 4.3 builds available too. It's also working on expanding its list of supported devices, with the addition being the Galaxy Nexus GSM model (which missed out on getting KitKat from Google). 

    One of OmniROM's chief developers who goes by the name 'xplodwild' is currently figuring out the best way to implement multiple-window capabilities on smaller screen devices, for example whether they should be split, stacked or floating windows.

    Image: OmniROM

Topic: 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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  • Idiot Slide Shows

    PLEASE get rid of thsee stupid slide shows and fix it so we can scroll down the screen to read your stuff!

    These slide shows are clunky and a holdover from slide projectors of the 1960s!
  • OmniRom

    Moved to this rom since CM went commercial (they are not far to slow for a number of devices - ie. Samsung will probably beat them to the Note 2).
    Fast, stable, good battery, and some cool new features.
    Just tried omni switch for the first time in the Tab yesterday.
    Great multi-tasking feature....
  • sorry

    *they are far to slow.........
    • re sorry

      Don't you mean ... they are far too slow ... ?
  • Install KitKat at your peril

    A bunch of stuff stopped working properly when I upgraded to KitKat in my Nexus 4, spell checker, activity notifier, network certificates, and on. Most worrying is battery lifetime, that is now under half of what it was with Jelly Bean.

    There is deluge of messages at the Google support website from folk asking how to revert from KitKat back to Jelly Bean.
    Luís de Sousa
    • Thanks for that info - from a Jelly Bean user

      I don't understand the almost universal demand for the latest OS versions. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" has been my view for many years. If the phone does what you want, why bother with the uncertainty of an upgrade? I recently had an upgrade which happened automatically and the predictive texting no longer learns frequently used words, like my name. I haven't looked into it yet so I can probably fix it, but it's irritating when useful features disappear and no obvious benefits are gained. I shall only experiment with alternatives when I have a spare smartphone or tablet to experiment on. But it's good to know what's out there - thanks Liam.
  • ROMs for Tablets?

    Are there any ROMs out there for Tablets, in particular Tablets which are not significantly skinned or customised?

    I would like to install Kit Kat but the manufactiurer does not provide updates, as is the case with many many Tablets.
    The Former Moley
    • Of course there are

      Go to Cyanogenmod and/or XDA Developers and search for your device. There are even ROMs for some of the generic/noname Android tablets that can be purchased for $50 or so. But you need to do some homework to make sure you choose a ROM that's compatible with your device (which you didn't mention in you post). You probably need to learn how to root it and install a Recovery app as well.
  • Except that Verizon ~ Samsung blocked bootloader

    My S3 was out of warranty so I went ahead and rooted it last November and tried out a few 4.2 and 4.3 JellyBeans. Not particularly happy with the ROMs I tried I restored my 4.1.2 backup and was back to using stock when I got wind of the fact that Verizon had released a 4.3 OTA update.

    Problem was they didn't include the information that accepting the OTA update removed root and worse yet locked down the bootloader which so far makes it impossible to replace stock ROM with a custom ROM. It is possible to get root back and use a hack called safestrap to load other ROMs but stock ROM must be maintained or the phone will be bricked. I lost the use of my phone for two or three days until I found a debrick method that brought me back to the stock ROM. For now I've just rooted the ROM and used Titanium Backup to "freeze" bloatware which leaves them on my phone but keeps them hidden from my sight and prevents Play Store from notifying me about "important updates" to my programs. If the folks at XDA Developers figure out a way to completely unlock the bootloader on the Verizon S3 I'll be all over it. Until then I await my contract expiration so I can say goodbye to Verizon and hello to a pay as I go plan.