New features will make their way to other CM phones and the open-source project once work is complete
CyanogenMod and OnePlus took the stage today at an event in San Francisco to announce that the OnePlus One (be sure to check out our initial thoughts and gallery) will be the launch device for the latest version of CyanogenMod, dubbed "CM 11S." A slight departure from the quick iteration of CyanogenMod releases in the past, CM 11S is a brand new release that's being timed to head out on the OnePlus One hardware, showing off the latest CM has to offer. CM 11S isn't a radical departure in terms of design, but there's a lot going on here under the hood.
The three main pillars that users can see with the release of CM 11S are a redesigned camera app, a new theme engine and the release of the new Gallery app from beta to a complete version. Under the hood, five months of design work alone went into completely rewriting CyanogenMod's theme engine to make it easier for users and designers alike to make their phone completely unique.
This is still CyanogenMod through and through — let's take a look at a few of the details.
The new camera interface in CM 11S is the first great example of the extra design time and attention that has been spent on the latest release of CyanogenMod. The interface no longer looks like something that was potentially tacked together from other pieces, and instead looks like it was designed with usability and functionality in mind. The camera steps away from radial menus entirely, surfacing manual controls and settings to easily switch around. You can easily move between different live camera effects by swiping up and down on the viewfinder, and can even customize which effects are available to cycle through.
After taking pictures you'll be shuttled off into the new Gallery experience, which has changed (but not radically so) since it entered beta a year ago. The final stable release coming in CM 11S has a basic color palette and uses transparency to integrate different colors throughout. Making use of and a relative lack of interface chrome, it puts your photos front and center. The Gallery app automatically groups photos by location and time into albums that show events all together, and integration with social media accounts and dropbox make sure sharing is a breeze.
The changes to the new theme engine are far more than skin deep, although the interface for changing and managing themes has definitely changed. Several months of work from some very talented developers and designers went into a complete reworking of the theme engine, and the end result is a svelte customization suite that makes it easier than ever to change the look and feel of your CM device. Third-party developers and enthusiasts alike can get in on the theme action with an easy-to-use system, and end-users can selectively choose what parts of each theme they want to apply.
These big changes and another handful of small tweaks are making their way into CM 11S to launch on the OnePlus One, but that doesn't mean the software won't also make its way to other devices and the open source project as well. After the OnePlus One is completely tested and the final software is made, it will then move along to other CyanogenMod devices. For those who choose to go the custom ROM route, the open source CyanogenMod project will integrate whatever features are applicable to these other devices — the theme engine, for example, is already completely open sourced.