Everyone has taken their phone out of the box and after a few hours of playing around inevitably there are a few apps that you’d like to uninstall. After a bit of playing around you discover that you can’t uninstall them, if you do a little more research you’ll discover that carriers and even the handset manufactures have changed Android with their own special customizations. For me, I can’t stand Samsung’s Touch wiz, it just doesn’t meld with how I intuitively navigate through my phone. And in truth you could just get a launcher like Halo or Go EX, but what UI skins don’t do is get rid of them, it’s a band-aid.
The big question for most users is whether it is worth the hassle of installing a custom ROM, and if so, what is the best way to do it safely.
ROM or Read-Only Memories, are the low level programming (also often called firmware) that contain the operating system and basic applications to make your phone work.
What about Apple products? Can I get a custom ROM for my iPhone or iPad? The answer is yes, but the ROMs actually only come from Apple and can typically only be updated when Apple issues updates. Advantage Android, there are literally hundreds of developers working on custom ROMs for most common models of phones and tablets and they are happy to share with the community.
Custom ROMs aren’t all rainbows and buttery smooth UIs. Messing with your phone’s firmware can be risky. You can potentially “brick” your phone so that it won’t be usable without some major low-level hacking. So, at least until you are comfortable with installing ROMs, it’s best to use an older phone or tablet to work with — proceed at your own risk.
So what do you get for taking the risk?
Most of the time people look to ‘flash’ their device when the carrier or manufacturer is slow to release the latest version of Android. Or if you’ve got an older device and you want to over clock it so it’s speedier.
The most basic benefit of custom ROMs is getting rid of “bloatware” the unwanted software or handset manufactures pre-load on the handset. Apart from being annoying these apps take up precious room on your device. When ROM “cooks” (ROM terminology often uses a kitchen metaphor, with cooking being a common name for the process of building a custom ROM) create a ROM, the first thing they leave out is the space-consuming trial software. They also strip out vendor- or carrier-specific versions of the launcher, replacing them with Google’s original versions or a version they prefer.