What is new in CyanogenMod 9: Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” for your phone or tablet

If you have an Android phone, you’ve probably heard of CyanogenMod. It’s the aftermarket firmware for dozens of phones that is constantly being tweaked and improved to run faster, better, and more up to date.

(As a bonus you’ll never get carrier bloat like CarrierIQ.)

However, until Friday, CyanogenMod has been stuck at version 7.2, which was based off of Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread. This meant that it had no tablet-specific apps and other Ice Cream Sandwich features like a thumbnail-based app switcher, quick folders, the beautiful Holo theme, and a new look and feel. Now, however, CyanogenMod 9 has been released and not only does it have all what was just mentioned but it also includes a new app launcher, as well as an omnipresent search box and many other small changes meant to make Android more beautiful. (Oh, and YouTube finally doesn’t look bad.)

Here’s what’s new in CyanogenMod 9:

Ice Cream Sandwich, baby!

Of course, a lot of the devices supported by CyanogenMod 9, such as the Motorola Atrix, are stuck forever on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, or even Android 2.2 Froyo. Since CyanogenMod doesn’t care about when manufacturers stop updating their devices, even devices as old as the original Galaxy S are getting fast, stable Ice Cream Sandwich releases.

What’s so cool about Ice Cream Sandwich, though? It’s beautiful, fast, and easier to use than any other previous version of Android. You can have your phone automatically disable data usage after you use up a certain amount–great for making you don’t go over your data plan. It also features a  more useful notification shade, in which you can just swipe away notifications you don’t want.

You can read all about what’s new in Ice Cream Sandwich right here.

A better lockscreen

Of course, CyanogenMod 9 isn’t all about looks. It’s also about functionality. That’s why they’ve developed a much-improved lockscreen.

With this improved lockscreen, you can do tons of things. As you can see here, I’ve got a calendar event for today plopped elegantly right below the clock:

I’ve also got today’s weather on the screen, showing an icon of the weather, the current temperature, the high, and the low. If I were to tap on the lock icon, I’d get quick access to my four top apps such as Camera, Twitter, Google Reader, and Gmail, as you can also set quick shortcuts to apps, bookmarks, and more.

Less bloat than original and CM7 ROMs

Any phone can start to feel slow after a while. However, on a lot of phones it’s because the manufacturer added badly optimized, poorly written skins in an attempt to be competitive. If you open your launcher and see Amazon MP3, ESPN, and a whole bunch of other apps you never wanted and have to use, then you’re going to love CyanogenMod.

If you’re coming from CyanogenMod 7, on the other hand, you’re still getting a leaner machine. CyanogenMod 9 is not only about bringing Ice Cream Sandwich to the masses, it’s about simplifying and putting “more emphasis on the User Experience (UX)“. Take a look at the less bloat-y main menu on Alpha 0 for HP Touchpad:

This is the tablet version of Settings, and the experience carries over just as well to the phone version. Everything is laid out intelligently, with easy access to launcher and device settings.

A new launcher, Trebuchet

Trebuchet is the new homescreen in CyanogenMod 9. It’s based off of the stock ICS launcher, which means that it supports the new features like the widgets in the app launcher, the better animations, and the omnipresent search bar. It looks something like this:

While not a huge difference from Android 2.3 and its older friends, it’s a thousand times more usable. You can create folders by simply dragging one app onto another app, à la iOS:

You also have the new tabs in the launcher part where you can swipe left and right between Apps and Widgets:

Another much-heralded feature is the ability to change widgets, which was actually already present in ADW Launcher, the launcher used by CyanogenMod 7:

Lots of other things

Of course, there are tons of other little tweaks included in CyanogenMod. It has notification toggles built-in, and its famous theme engine. This theme engine allows you to download themes to customize your entire OS, allowing you to have some weird Holo-Sense mashup.

Installing CyanogenMod

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and install CyanogenMod on your device? Head over to dotTech’s Installing CyanogenMod. Depending on your skill level, this could take as little as 20 minutes.

Are you looking forward to getting Ice Cream Sandwich on your device, or are you already anxiously flashing Jelly Bean ROMs? Discuss what ROM you currently run in the comments below!

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11 comments

  1. mattern adjei

    thank for this reach info about cyanogenmod. i am highly interested in running cyanogenmod 9 or 10 on my dual sim, gionee gn700w but my question is, is it possible? can i run it on my dual sim ice cream sandwich phone, gionee gn700w considering it dual sim functionalities. your help will be much appreciated. thanks in advance

  2. Locutus
    Author/

    @Ed: Android 4.0 includes hardware acceleration, bringing the speed of pretty much everything graphical. As to why your phone would slow to a crawl… who knows :P

    In truth, I’ve been running CM10 previews on my phone since they became available. Not the most stable, and there are weird jerks and freezes, but it’s awesome! …I should’ve probably waited a while before installing.

  3. Ed

    @Ashraf:
    Well CM7 wasn’t so buttery smooth. At least not on my phone. It started getting slow very quickly. I had to restart it at least once a day if not twice so it wouldn’t be too slow to use. (Though stock did that too so I didnt care much)

  4. Prema

    @Locutus
    can you explain the following steps:

    Untar koush’s ClockworkMod Recovery into the Heimdall directory.
    On the computer, open terminal and run the following command from the Heimdall directory:
    heimdall flash –recovery recovery.img

    thanks, don’t want to do anything stupid :D

  5. Ed

    I am loving CM9 on my Galaxy S Captivate!
    I installed it as soon as I found out. I don’t know about battery life yet (It seems about the same so far) but it no longer lags! My phone used to get really slow over use and it would almost become unusable until I restarted it, but now it runs super smooth and fast regardless!

  6. Locutus
    Author/

    @Prema: CyanogenMod is perfectly stable for use on over 60 devices… and guess what? The T-Mobile Galaxy S II is one of them :D

    What you may be remembering is that CyanogenMod releases “nightly”, “alpha”, and “rc” builds as well. These builds are only for previewing purposes, but many people (including me) use them anyway. They’re for people who are a) app developers, b) ROM developers, or c) bent on getting all the cool new features at the expense of device stability.

    You can find installation instructions for your device here: http://wiki.cyanogenmod.com/wiki/Samsung_Galaxy_S_II_(T-Mobile):_Full_Update_Guide

    The instructions are a bit weird, as Samsung doesn’t like it when people who don’t know what they’re doing try to do things like this, but if you just read it through you’ll be fine.

  7. Prema

    this is a silly question, but i just got myself a Galaxy S 2 (Tmobile), and i was initially thinking about install CyanogenMod, but what scares me (so i have read) is that cynogenmod should be used just for experimental/testing purposes. It shouldn’t be installed for people who use the phones normally…

    It’s my first android phone so I’m not full on Android (yet), and i did put apex launcher right now… but is the above statement true??
    (I know flashing the rmo may or may not work as expected, there certainly are risks… but just beyond that)

    Hmm i’m not sure if my GS2 will be able to get cynogenmod since it is a “tmobile” version and different from the international version