An Introduction to OmniROM

OmniROM Logo

In documenting the trials and tribulations of rooting and modding my Nexus 5 I had noted that I chose OmniROM as my custom firmware of choice. Part of this is pragmatic— Omni is one of the very few ROMs available for the Nexus 5. And part of this is political, which we’ll get to in a bit.

Had I stuck with stock firmware I could already be enjoying a better camera experience via Android 4.4.1 — instead I have to wait, so why bother with a custom ROM in the first place?

My goal for today is to answer that question, with a closer look at OmniROM.

Features

From its outset, Omni has done away with the traditional notions of “nightly” vs. “stable” release. In their own words:

The argument that “nightlies are not for end users” is over-used, and no longer valid. We’ve found that the vast majority of users want to get nightly updates to their ROM. For that reason, nightlies aren’t a playground – nightlies are for new features that are finished.

Even at this early stage in development, the nightlies already offer a number of improvements over stock Android. The biggest one for me is per-app permissions control; why this isn’t a standard feature for all Android users is beyond me.

OmniROM Call

I’m not your buddy, guy…

An Omni-specific innovation is this non-intrusive calling window. Instead of an incoming call hijacking your entire display, you’ll see something very much like the screen grab above. Image courtesy of Android Police.

Over on reddit, user “wamen_noodles” posted an entire gallery of infographic-type gifs to r/Android. Some notable examples:

OmniROM Multi-Window

Soon Omni users will no longer be the envy of Galaxy owners and the multi-window functionality on their devices. I say “soon” because this feature hasn’t yet been implemented — at least in my hammerhead 12/04 nightly.

OmniROM Active Display

The Moto X-style active notifications look to be working, though. I haven’t actually seen any yet, but this feature is at least selectable in the settings.

OmniROM Powerrrrrr

Lots of performance tweaks are available to interested parties. And Android modders tend to be interested parties.

You can view the rest of wamen-noodle’s gallery here on Imgur.

Politics

OmniROM was announced at the Big Android BBQ on October 12th, 2013 — not even a month after another ROM crew, the Cyanogen team, announced that they were incorporating. In wake of Cyanogen’s news there was a lot of bad blood, with at least one notable developer leaving the team over licensing issues. That particular dev ended up at Omni.

As a Linux user Omni is a particularly good fit for me. From the official press release:

Omni is what custom ROMs used to be about: innovation, new features, transparency, community, and freedom.

Obviously they are not the only ROM team with this sentiment, but Omni brings some considerable pedigree with it…

Pedigree

In case you do not know these peeps:

  • Chainfire is the guy behind SuperSU & rooting a heck (of a) lot of Samsung phones. The latest feather in his cap is RegionLockAway, an app to remove Region Lock on European Galaxy Note 3.
  • Xplodwild is the guy behind Focal camera app and an ex-CyanogenMod team member.
  • Dees_Troy is the lead developer of TWRP recovery which a lot of you custom rom users must be running on your Android devices.

Android Fan Network

That’s a lot of star power right there.

Works For Me

The only fault I can find with OmniROM so far is that it’s not pre-rooted; you’ll have to flash a SuperSu zip along with the gapps and ROM to get up and running. Despite this minor inconvenience, I’m really enjoying it — so much so that I also installed Omni on my girlfriend’s new Nexus 4!

If there’s anything else I can answer about this new player in the custom firmware game, ask away…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *