Custom ROMs are the best examples in favour of ANDROID being an open source software. The android software which comes in your device when you purchase it is known as the STOCK ROM.
Now as android is an open source software, the developers have the freedom to take stock android or the stock ROM and make changes to it. They can tweak the ROMs for better performance or can simply remove the garbage like useless applications or unnecessary ringtone and notification tones or preloaded wallpapers, etc to make a lighter ROM and these modified or enhanced stock ROMs are called as CUSTOM ROMs.
Well have you ever wondered why the devices of different companies like HTC, Samsung or Sony or the Google's flagship devices like Nexus looks so different and gives completely different feel in usage though having the same operating system ANDROID in it?
Google has provided with the very basic version of ANDROID i.e. the stock android which comes in Google's flagship devices like Nexus or the MOTO series by Motorola. But companies like Samsung, HTC, etc put one extra layer over the stock android to give different and unique experience to their customers. This layer comprises of some applications, ringtones, wallpapers and the user interface which is unique to the company. For example HTC's user interface is called as HTC SENSE and Samsung's user interface is called as TOUCHWIZ. These are similar to the custom ROMs if you compare it to the stock android provided by the Google.
Custom ROM's performance and availability vary from device to device. Some very common devices like the MOTO series by MOTOROLA or the CANVAS series by MICROMAX have a number of CUSTOM ROMs available out there over the internet, whereas custom ROMs for devices of SONY are less likely to be found because, the developers of custom ROMs usually develop the ROMs for the devices being used widely. So the famous your device is, more are the custom ROMs available for it.
Custom ROMs can have a variety of tweaks ranging from changes in only the icons to having upgraded Bluetooth and network drivers depending upon the developer.
Now the question you should ask is Why to go for a CUSTOM ROM?
Well the main answer to that will be to have better performance on your device.
Following are the basic tweaks you can expect in any of the custom ROMs out there:
Modified user interface including the icons and the launcher and the colour scheme, sometimes even the notification bar and the notification panel are also modified.
No useless preloaded applications and wallpapers and ringtones. Lots of free space.
RAM tweaks for better performance.
New boot animation. (The animation which plays whenever you switch on/off your device).
Some of the other high end features of CUSTOM ROMs which are a bit uncommon:
Upgraded Bluetooth and network drivers for better and fast connection.
Upgraded camera rendering software.
Completely changed user interface, in some ROMs your device will not look similar to any ANDROID device, modifications do take up such an extent.
But it is important to find a stable and useful custom ROM. Some ROMs might have a lot of bugs and glitches such as connection problems regarding Wi-Fi or Bluetooth or SIM card detection issues, etc. So it is important to first go through the ROMs details properly and the reviews of the users using that very ROM before flashing it to your device.
FACT: Installing a custom ROM is referred to as FLASHING a custom ROM in android community.
You might go through very bad custom ROMs too but if you are able to find a custom ROM which is stable and suits your needs, experience of using your android device then will be totally different and worth it.
My experience with custom ROMs:
I am using Canvas A116/Canvas HD by Micromax from the past 2 years and I have tried more than 20 different unique custom ROMs developed for my device. Some were full of bugs that I had to uninstall them the very moment I installed it but most of them were good each having their own USPs.
I have tried heavily tweaked ROMs full of applications and features but they were a bit laggy as my device's RAM is only 1GB.
Currently I am using a very light ROM, with no extra features and applications. It has the Google's stock android and hence no unnecessary Micromax's apps and wallpapers and ringtones. It is a very clean and stable ROM.
Custom ROM on Canvas
If you have any thoughts or suggestions or any type of queries regarding custom ROMs for android feel free to email me.
If you are having a trouble finding a stable custom ROM for your device let me know, I would love to help you to find a good custom ROM.
Stay tuned for more articles on android and app reviews.
Meantime keep exploring your ANDROID!