Want to add new features to your Android phone? Here's how to root your handset, install a custom ROM, enable complete backups, and more.
Step 2: Replacing the ROM
After you have updated your device to a rooted version of Android 2.1, you'll most likely want to upgrade again to a more up-to-date third-party ROM. One of the most popular options is CyanogenMod.
CyanogenMod has ROMs available for many phones, and typically includes features left out of the stock ROMs that Google distributes. For example, CyanogenMod adds tethering via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, so you can share your phone's internet connection with other devices. Also, CyanogenMod lets you use ROMs of newer Android OS releases on older or unsupported devices, such as Froyo on the G1.
CyanogenMod isn't the only aftermarket Android ROM option. Other alternatives offer different combinations of features, including additional home screens and widgets, more connectivity choices, and the ability to get the most out of the multitude of apps on the Android Market that require root access to your device.
Additionally, you can find ROM options for boosting performance on specific devices at the expense of extra features - but be sure to double-check compatibility with your device before installing a performance ROM.
After rooting your device, the easiest method to replace your ROM is to use the ROM Manager app available in the Android Market (in both free and paid versions) to install ClockworkMod Recovery. Download, install, and open the ROM Manager app, select Flash ClockworkMod Recovery, choose your device, and grant root privileges when asked.
Reopen ROM Manager, select Download ROM from the main menu, and pick the ROM you'd like to install. In our example, we're installing the most recent version of CyanogenMod, but always be sure to check the Google Apps box; otherwise you'll be left without apps such as GMail.
Once the ROM finishes downloading, grant root privileges if asked again, and select both Backup Existing ROM and Wipe Data and Cache. The Milestone will install the CyanogenMod ROM and reboot.
Step 3: Tweak the interface
As much as I like the stock Android OS interface, it still has room for improvement - especially in the on-screen keyboard. Jealous of HTC's Sense UI keyboard? Don't have a device that supports multitouch or pinch-to-zoom in the web browser? Just use a ROM replacement that includes the interface elements you want. You can pick and choose custom interface additions and replacements from several creators via CyanogenMod.
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