One of the most unique and refreshing benefits of Android is the extremely active development community. In most cases, if you own a phone that has fell victim to Android's fragmentation woes, if your phone is officially one or two versions behind the most recent Android version, there is almost always a way around it. Of course, it requires you to roll up your sleeves and void a warranty in the process. But hey, sometimes that's the price you pay for staying up to date.
The individual's answer to fragmentation is custom ROMs. Developers across the web are perpetually creating their own, tweaked version of Google's software for your flashing pleasure. Of the thousands of ROMs out there, the CyanogenMod team have made quite a name for themselves, officially supporting over 68 Android devices – unofficially supporting many more – and counting.
These very ROMs are an Android user's saving grace. They are what gives hope to the millions of Android users who don't buy a new phone every six months, to those users that will never officially see an Ice Cream Sandwich update for their phone. What do I mean? Take the EVO 4G, for example. It is one of the most popular Android phones to date – arguably the phone that poster child for Android in 2010. Packing only a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 512MB RAM and approaching its 18-month mark, it isn't likely that HTC will deem the EVO 4G worthy of the Ice Cream Sandwich update. In fact, it isn't likely that many of their single-core phones of 2010 will see the update, for that matter. Possible, but unlikely.
That's where custom ROMs come in. Teams and individual devs like the CM team will undoubtedly be working diligently to bring Ice Cream Sandwich to a plethora of devices that would never see the update otherwise.
Yesterday was a fairly significant day for us Android fans. For the first time in nearly a year (11 months, to be exact), Google rang the dinner bell for starving devs. The source to Ice Cream Sandwich was pushed to Android Open Source Project yesterday evening, and developers started ripping into it as soon as they got the green light.
CyanogenMod godfather, Steve Kondik, and his team are no exception. Late last night before I went to bed, Kondik tweeted the very words I've been waiting to hear for months. The CyanogenMod 9 project is now in the works and can be expected to arrive within the next few months – likely long before any carriers push official updates. And if you're the type that just can't wait, I'm sure Alpha, Beta and Nightly releases will keep you occupied until then.
Quite honestly, I've been dying to get my hands on Ice Cream Sandwich (an AOSP build, not SDK). Whether I get it through the Galaxy Nexus first or some other device via CM9 doesn't matter. And what I'm really interested in is the other ROMs that will follow the CM9 project like MIUI. I'll be waiting to see what kind of mind-blowing stuff Ice Cream Sandwich will unofficially bring to our favorite little green robot.
What about you, Androidians? Are you excited for all of the Ice Cream Sandwich ROMs ahead? If your phone is not updated to 4.0, will you take to flashing ROMs?