Motorola Droid

The CyanogenMod team is working on the next version of its popular Android software for dozens of smartphones and tablets. CyanogenMod 9 will be the first version based on Google Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich which the developers say offers improved speed and performance.

It also makes some of the tweaks that earlier versions of CyanogenMod had used unnecessary or impractical — and breaks graphics and camera drivers used in CyanogenMod 7 and earlier versions. So CM9 is still a work in progress.

There’s already a usable build for the Samsung Nexus S smartphone, and according to a progress update on the CyanogenMod blog, the next devices to get support will likely be those with TI OMAP4, Samsung Exynos, and Qualcomm MSM8660/7X30 chips. In other words, it might take a little while before older devices such as the Google Nexus One get support — but the plan is still to release CM9 for the Nexus One.

That’s good news, since Google has said it won’t release an official Android 4.0 update for the first Google-branded phone.

Unfortunately, another older flagship Android phone is getting left behind in the new update. There won’t be an official CyanogenMod version for the original Motorola Droid.

The system requirements for Android 4.0 are much higher than for older versions of the operating system, so it’s not surprising to see official support dropped for older devices. You can’t exactly install OS X 10.7 on an Apple IIe. But CyanogenMod and other independent developers have done some amazing work over the past few years by porting stripped down versions of newer software to run on older devices.

I suspect someone will still release an Android 4.0 custom ROM for the original Droid, but odds are that the operating system won’t run as well on that phone as on newer devices.

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...