Today, I installed the first beta of CyanogenMod 9 (based on ICS) on my phone, beating the official distribution channels for an unknown but long and possibly infinite amount of time.
The coolness factor, of course. I’m quite sure I’m the first of all my friends to have ICS. Also, it looks very slick. It is also heavily hyped, so I had to try it out.
CM9 welcome screen, still fresh and empty
The user interface is about as responsive as with 2.3, which is not perfect, but good enough. It’s actually quite fast, but the animations are not smooth, damaging the polished feel of the UX.
There is also the fact that the app development API has got many additions since Android 3.0, so it’s easier and more portable to write apps for ICS than for 2.3 that was installed by default.
CM9 app drawer.
There is a thread on the XDA-developers forum with news and releases. I downloaded the zip and installed it from ClockWorkMod recovery. A complete data wipe is needed, so make sure that your Google account is fully integrated and synced before trying the installation, or backup everything.
As the first post warns, if you don’t know how to install it, you probably shouldn’t. So I won’t post complete instructions here, but feel free to ask in the comments.
The camera still doesn’t work. If this is something important to you, don’t use CM9 on your phone. For me, it’s an inconvenience, but the development possibilities are more important for me.
What you may or may not notice on the previous picture is that the icons are quite small on SGA’s 3.5-inch screen. The same is true for text in menus, fortunately there is an option to enlarge it in Settings > Accessibility.
ICS accessibility config, with the Large Text option checked
In general, it shows in a couple of places that my phone is somewhat too small and the screen resolution too low. Icons are too small, while text in some applications is too large. Other than that, web browsing and email is usable, and I don’t really need anything else from a phone. It also makes calls and messages, I tested it myself.