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10 October 2011, 12:10

CyanogenMod 7.1 custom Android firmware released - Update

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CyanogenMod logo The CyanogenMod project developers have announced the release of version 7.1 of their modified Android firmware. According to Android programmer and project founder Steve Kondik (AKA "Cyanogen"), the major update follows a long delay due to a number of issues, including problems with the automated build system. However, Kondik says that he hopes to "speed up our release process in the future".

Like the 7.0.x branch, CyanogenMod 7.1 is based on the source code for Android 2.3 "Gingerbread", specifically 2.3.7, and now includes support for building on 68 devices. Enhancements in the new version include brightness control settings from the status bar, the addition of a "copy all" option in the context menu and a "Mark all read" MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) option. Users can launch apps using gestures and optionally hide the hold button during a call.

For devices with built-in FM tuners, FM status can be shown on the lock screen and FM seeks support has been added. Other changes include Bluetooth mouse and tethering support, profile and lock screen improvements, a wake on volume key option and a mute camera shutter option, as well as a camera timer and a touch-to-focus feature. Support for revoking application permissions has also been added.

Kondik notes that the project has continued to grow and improve thanks to support from the mobile industry. For example, Sony Ericsson recently helped the team by providing more than 20 devices for development use, along with technical assistance and hardware drivers. Several other vendors have also reached out to the project in recent months. Kondik added that a porting guide and information on how vendors can get involved with the project will be provided soon.

The CyanogenMod project offers free community-built custom ROMs that don't include Google's custom closed-source applications, such as GMail, Google Maps and YouTube. The custom ROMs are popular as they are often more up-to-date than the official model-specific Android releases and will typically extend a phones capabilities. To date, nearly 700,000 devices have been registered running the custom firmware.

More details about the release, including a list of new devices since 7.0 and a full list of changes, can be found in a post on the CyanogenMod blog and in the change log. The developers advise users to install CyanogenMod 7.1 via ROM Mananger; installation instructions and details of how to "root" various devices can be found on the project's wiki. Alternatively, users can manually download the custom ROM from the project's mirror network. Upgrading from any previous 7.0.x release or nightly build "should be smooth" and no restore should be required.

The H reminds users that, as with all custom firmware, inexperienced users are not advised to flash their devices as they could unintentionally "brick" them, resulting in a complete loss of functionality.

Update: The developers note that a number of devices are still "in beta status". These include the HTC Sensation (Pyramid), LG Optimus 3D and HP's TouchPad tablet, which ships with the WebOS mobile operating system. The developers say that they are currently working on an installer for the TouchPad that will allow users to load their Android ROM alongside WebOS, providing a dual-boot option. A demonstration video of the "ACME Installer" is available on YouTube.

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