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CyanogenMod: Updates and New Features

CyanogenMod is the most popular alternative firmware for Android smartphones. Stable builds of the Marshmallow-based version 13 are now available. Update: Nightlies are - finally! - available for CM14.1, based on Android 7.1 Nougat. Below you can all about CyanogenMod functions and where the firmware can be downloaded.

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CyanogenMod 14.1: Nougat-based Nightlies for download

The CyanogenMod 14.1, which is based on Android 7.1 Nougat, has been available for download since 8 November 2016. At the moment it is highly unstable and doesn't yet fully-integrate the nightly builds, so you should avoid using this for your everyday needs. When we ran the first build on our editorial Nexus 5X there were error messages in TWRP, Google apps could not be played, and Cyanogen services crashed.

Nexus 5X CyanogenMod 14 screenshot 2
CM14.1 can be used on the Nexus 5X easily, but with faults. / © AndroidPIT

The official release report from Steve Kondik is taciturn and gives little information about the next steps, let alone an actual schedule. As usual, the initially short list of supported devices will at some stage become longer. In parallel, you will eliminate childhood diseases and work towards stable snapshots, which are updated monthly and are better suited for daily use.

Updates for CyanogenMod 13

Release ZNH5Y, August 2016

The changelog for the major feature updates on the Marshmallow-based CM13 was published after the DEF CON event. While the basic framework was already completed in August, the timeline for providing customized updates will depend on those responsible for the devices. The basic features of the update as follows:

  • WiFi Tethering – automatically turn off hotspot after X minutes of inactivity
  • Profiles – add notification light controls
  • Do Not Disturb/Priority mode – add notification light controls
  • Privacy Guard/App data usage – Restrict apps to WiFi or Cellular data only, or block all internet access, per app
  • Bluetooth device battery support – For compatible devices, a new battery icon will appear in the status bar to show the paired devices’ battery level
  • Lock screen wallpaper picker makes its return
  • Lock screen weather and new weather plug in support – see weather blog post
  • Lock screen Blur support (on a per device basis) and the ability to disable the effect
  • Live lock screen support
  • New LiveDisplay hardware enhancements and API
  • Snap Camera (per device basis)
  • Gello Browser (per device basis)
  • Lots of translations – shout out to the CM translations team on Crowdin
  • Cyanogen apps support (see blog post, x86 is not supported yet)
  • Additional CM SDK APIs
  • Security fixes galore

CyanogenMod 13 Release 1

CyanogenMod 13 has been available as a stable release since March. The development lasted over three months after December 2015, which was when Android 6.0 Marshmallow-based nightly builds became available. The good news is that this release guarantees a stable system and is recommended for everyday use.

AndroidPIT rom cyanogenmod 1318
CyanogenMod 13 is especially easy to install on Nexus and OnePlus devices. / © ANDROIDPIT

Update for CyanogenMod 13 vs. CM12: the changelog

The new features available for the release of the final version are now available. Here you can see the list with the new and improved functions:

  • Whisperpush capability (encrypted SMS) – removed
  • Removed from CM software globally, no replacement
  • Settings > About phone > Advanced mode – removed
  • New behavior is to show all settings at all times
  • Settings > Notification drawer > Quick settings – removed
  • New behavior is to control layout and options directly via QS panel via ‘edit’ tile or long-press of settings gear in the pull down area.
  • QS panel configuration items such as ‘enlarge first row’ and ‘show weather’ are now present on the leftmost QS pane while in edit mode
  • ‘Advanced location settings’ renamed to ‘Tri-state location’
  • Settings > Status bar
  • New controls for ‘Status bar icons’ (repurposing of SystemUI tuner from AOSP)
  • Settings > Lock screen > Quick unlock – removed
  • No replacement; security constraint due to Android Gatekeeper
  • Settings > SIM cards > manual provisioning switch (Multisim) – removed
  • Reliant on Qualcomm extphone. Currently no replacement
  • Settings > About phone > Build date
  • Triple tap to access demo mode (developer/marketing feature to standardize renders)
  • Settings > Lock screen > Owner info – replaced
  • Replaced with ‘Lock screen message’ (AOSP change)
  • Settings > Memory
  • New screen (AOSP) to show memory usage over a selected period of time
  • Device specific implementations of double-tap-to-wake replaced by AOSP implementation
  • No major user impact
  • CM implementation of silent mode replaced by AOSP implementation
  • CM protected apps
  • New folder UX for viewing protected content
  • Fingerprint support for accessing protected content
  • Enhanced ability to prevent access while retaining usability
  • A protected app can no longer be launched via Play Store
  • App notifications and services are not hampered by protection status
  • Power menu ability to swap System Profiles – removed
  • Engineering constraint – QS panel tile for System Profiles as functional replacement
  • New SMS/MMS application
  • We have switched off of the Qualcomm based messaging application (Mms-caf) to the AOSP one (Messaging). Notable features such as ‘Quick reply’ are available, but there may be slight variations in UI/UX.
  • Permissions
  • Due to new permission model API in M, Privacy Guard has been re-engineered to be compliant with this new environment. Primary permission request for ‘Normal’ security level permissions will be handled by our package manager for non-Google users, or Google’s manager for those that opt for Googley bits.
  • Users retain ability to control fine-grained permissions via Settings > Privacy > Privacy Guard
  • Snap Camera
  • Some devices now ship with an enhanced camera app based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon camera. For devices that do not support the Snap app, you will retain the Camera2 app as in 12.1
  • Cyanogen apps pack
  • A CM13.0 compliant C-Apps is not yet available, but should be coming in a week or so. Keep your eyes out if this is something you rely on

CyanogenMod Changelog for your device

Each device will receive separate patches for specific errors or functions. In order to monitor the appropriate improvements for your device take a look at the specific change report, or changelog. For an easier way to view these changes there are apps you can use. The best tone we came across was the CyanogenMod Changelog, developed by Vasudev B.

LineageOS Changelog Install on Google Play
CyanogenMod Changelog vasudev b
Find your device by its retail name and track its changes. / © Vasudev B, AndroidPIT

CyanogenMod: download and installation

There are four ways to install CyanogenMod, and all four have their peculiarities. For all these installations you will first need to ensure your custom recovery up to date. Look for your device on, download the .img file and flash it either through InstallZIP using your previous TWRP or with fastboot from your computer.

System images are provided for a variety of devices and are listed on CyanogenMod.

If you're using Google Apps, you'll need to download this application for Marshmallow (or your desired Android version). If your CyanogenMod has been installed as a new system, you'll be able to customize and download a new package with the Open GApps Project.

  • Scenario 1 – new installation with Google Apps: update your recovery, download the ZIP files for CM13 and GApps, and flash the files directly behind each other.
  • Scenario 2 – new installation without Google Apps: update your recovery, download the ZIP file for CM13 and flash it.
  • Scenario 3 – installation for users of the CM13 nightlies: make a wipe of your system and data partition so that the installation does not fail. The current nightlies are newer than the release, so you would effectively be downgrading. There are always errors. Release manager ciwrl assures me that, in this case, you can wait for Release 2 and then update without loss, if you have not updated your nightly in the meantime. 
  • Scenario 4 – installation on Nexus 6P, 5X or 9: in addition to Scenario 1 or 2, you must extract and install the vendor .img from the Factory Image. If you don't, you will get the message "Your system is potentially corrupted."

CyanogenMod: features

Trebuchet launcher with improved app overview

The Trebuchet launcher from CyanogenMod improves its app drawer. With its new, vertical layout, including ABC tabs at the bottom, apps can be found even faster than before.

cyanogenmod 12 1 trebuchet launcher
Trebuchet's new app drawer is excellent. / © ANDROIDPIT

More detailed settings

CyanogenMod provides a wealth of options and settings. Over the years, Android settings have become rather confusing. Cyanogen now cleans this up and has covered some things that were missed, like WiFi and Bluetooth and a more practical on/off switch.

Additionally, the main menu of the settings has been simplified and tidied up a bit. Additional options are now found in fairly straightforward sub-menus, and the settings for certain elements (e.g. lock screen links) have been simplified and are now clearly displayed, but without neglecting any of their usual functionality.

LiveDisplay spares the eyes

Anyone who has ever heard of the Twilight app will love this feature of CyanogenMod. If you check Facebook in the middle of the night to respond to your last message for the day, your smartphone display doesn't have to light up as much as it does during daylight hours.

Since the minimum brightness appears uncomfortably bright even in dark rooms, it will be necessary for you to adjust the color temperature. Here LiveDisplay comes to the rescue, adjusting automatically for warm colors in the evening hours.

Improved equalizer

Sound quality on a smartphone is usually quite modest. If you want to make the sound a bit more bearable, you need to improve it with an equalizer. AudioFX is the equalizer for CyanogenMod and we're happy to report it's one of the best ones you can get for Android devices.

It stores profiles for different output devices, which are automatically activated when connected.

cyanogenmod equalizer audiofx
The equalizer can be configured for multiple devices.  / © ANDROIDPIT

Other features

  • Theme Engine
  • Privacy Guard
  • System profile
  • Root access for apps and adb
  • Advanced customization options for the user interface
  • New boot animation
  • Battery display percentage option
  • Notification counter
  • Quick settings by swiping from the top right
  • Profiles with triggers (e.g., silent mode when connecting to the office WiFi)
  • Block incoming calls

This article has been updated and revised with new information about CyanogenMod 14.1. References in the old comments are therefore not always clear.


Write new comment:
  • Jonny T 5 months ago Link to comment

    I have a Asus ZenPad Z500M tablet. Anyone know if I can use 14.1?

  • gigilica 6 months ago Link to comment

    And for Galaxy S4 I9500 when we have CM 14???

  • mike 6 months ago Link to comment

    nougat on cm14 you can size the two windows in multi window mode.

  • Reg Joo 6 months ago Link to comment

    If I wasn't waiting for Huawei to release nougat for honor 5x(official,it's coming), I would have twrp'd it and rooted for cyanogenmod right now. Is it really that hard to get real multiwindow on marshmallow, though? I was hoping cyanogenmod would have figured out a way to do this for 13. No matter, it's still not the same as a desktop. When someone makes tiltable/resize-able multiwindow that would be a feat. Movies, that could be run in a tiltable window, and stacked like cards, in a multitasking environment, is a holy grail for mobile. Limited screen sized mobile could use that.

  • mike 6 months ago Link to comment

    I'm using a cm 14.1 alpha build that is very stable as a daily driver on an HTC device. everything works and its super smooth. all nougat features function flawless


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