Amid the mad rush to buy new iPhones this week, Android was still in the headlines. Perhaps the biggest news was in regards to CyanogenMod (CM): The group behind the custom Android software is now an official company and may have its first hardware partner.
Not familiar with CM? Most mainstream Android device owners probably aren’t and they’re missing out. CM has long been a great software option for those that want what may be an even better version of Android than Android itself. The small group of developers behind CM have made their custom software available for at least four years. So why isn’t CM software on mainstream phones? Users need to have root access to their handset; something that most people have no idea how to gain, or even know about.
Still, in the overall market — particularly with Android enthusiasts — CM has a solid base: It’s estimated that more than 7.5 million Android phones run the software with its custom improvements over native Android. And why not when CM offers features such as performance boosts due to CPU overclocking, better custom theme options and support for FLAC audio files, to name a few.
CM raised $7 million in venture capital this week and one of the easiest ways it can boost usage of its software is to make it easier to install. That’s exactly what the new company plans to do. Instead of a multi-step process that requires a computer to install CM, the company is working on an app for the Google Play store that will do all of the hard work.
It would also help CM if phones were launched with its software and it appears that may happen next week. Oppo’s N1 could be the first handset partner for the young company. An announcement is planned for September 23 and based on a teaser video, it appears a version of the N1 will ship with CM pre-installed.
CM won’t be on any HP’s four new Android slates out of the box. The company launched a line of tablets that look far better than the Slate 7 it brought to market in April. Here’s a run-down of the new devices, two of which are based on Nvidia’s reference design:
- HP Slate 7 Extreme. This looks like an upgrade of the original model and should pack more punch with an Nvidia Tegra 4 chip. The device will use Nvidia’s PureAudio technology with front-facing speakers and a rear bass-reflex speaker. A stylus is included but there’s no digitizer in the 1280 x 800 tablet so this sounds like a capacitive pen.
- HP Slate Pro. At 7.98-inches, this Android tablet is a step up from the Slate 7. It keeps the Tegra 4 chip but ups the resolution to 1600 x 1200 in a 4:3 aspect ratio. Engadget says a pair of cameras are integrated: 8 megapixels on the back and 2 megapixels on the front.
- HP Slate 7 HD and Slate 10 HD. These are 1280 x 800 tablets in 7- and 10-inch sizes. Both will come in an LTE option with up to 200 MB of free service per month through T-Mobile and the option to add more broadband capacity as needed. Beats Audio is included. HP hasn’t specified the chipmaker in these, so I suspect it’s not Nvidia.
None of the tablets have pricing yet; HP will announce that closer to the November launch.