One of the best things about the Android operating system is that it’s largely open-source, meaning that if you have the technical know-how you can tweak it to look and act the way you want it to. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should — there are plenty of great custom ROMs out there.
First, an explanation of what a ROM is. ROM basically stands for read-only memory, and is most often used to describe the amount of storage a device has. That applies to Android because of the fact that a ROM replaces your Android operating system, which is normally stored in the ROM of your device. The most popular ROM is actually just the most recent version of Android — users generally want to install the latest versions of the operating system, however it may not have been pushed out as an update by the device’s manufacturer yet. Another reason, however, is to tweak and change how Android operates or looks. Here are some of the best custom Android ROMs out there.
Perhaps the most popular ROMs out there for Android — and also one of the most well-supported — is CyanogenMod. The ROM is complete with frequent updates and full support, and it even managed to find its way officially onto a phone, the OnePlus One, a few years back.
CyanogenMod is built around being being customizable, and features include an app launcher called Trebuchet, video screenshots through the Screencast feature, and even a mode built for landscape viewing. CyanogenMod now supports over 50 devices, and a new version is released shortly after each version of Android.
Get CyanogenMod for yourself at cyanogenmod.org.
Paranoid Android, at first glance, looks a lot like Android, however it has a few key tweaks aimed at improving things like notifications and navigation. Not only that but it has features like Immersive mode, which lets you view information on the screen while hiding the status bar and navigation bar. Most of the tweaks are purely aesthetic, but they’re interesting nonetheless.
Paranoid Android is available on a range of devices, including the latest Nexus and OnePlus devices. Get Paranoid Android for yourself at paranoidandroid.co.
OmniROM was actually built by former CyanogenMod developers at the end of 2013, and basically gives you the stock Android experience along with a few extra tidbits. For example, it allows you to launch apps simply by tapping on the time, and it adds a notification counter in the status bar to show you how many new notifications you’ve received. The real advantage to OmniROM, however, it OmniSwitch, which is basically a quick-menu that you can edit with shortcuts to jump to any part of your phone. Thankfully, that feature is totally customizable. Get OmniROM for yourself at omnirom.org.
PAC-ROM is aimed at being all you need in an Android ROM, and basically takes great features from other ROMs and includes them. It’s pretty shameless, but the result is a great operating system. The OS may seem like a little much at times, but it’s well supported and gets regular updates. You can get it for yourself at PAC-ROM.com.
As you can see there are a ton of great ROMs for Android out there. Have you had experience with any of these or any others? Let us know in the comments section below!