Approximate time to read: 7 minutes
I’ll admit, I’ve not had CM12S installed on my OnePlus One very long, and even then I forced the update, but I thought there’d be a benefit to an early review, based on my first thoughts. As the days go past, I’ll return here to add anything else I think is relevant.
First impressions? It looks nice. It’s bright and, most of the time, smooth (the exception appears to be the app drawer which can be a little sluggish at time, for some reason). The new design of the pull down notification bar confused me at first until I worked it all out. But, I have to say, my overwhelming emotion is of disappointment. Disappointment, not so much at Lollipop, but because of the lack of CM changes – a lot of the changes that 11S gave us have simply gone, leaving us with something not much different to a default Android set up.
To give you an idea, here are some of the issues I’ve initially encountered…
- Google Now has now gone. Switchable within 11S, it’s now been removed from the launcher. Admittedly it wasn’t the best implementation – it was neither smooth nor bug free, but to simply remove it appears crazy. You can get it back by installing the Google Now Launcher, but this replaces the CM12 default Launcher 3. I use Google Now enough that this is exactly what I’ve done, but it does mean I’ve now lost the CM additions to the launcher and app drawer.
- There’s now no automatic brightness setting. Instead you manually adjust to what you’d like the brightness to be and then use an “adaptive brightness” setting, which will adjust it either way, depending on current lighting conditions. Unlike the automatic brightness, which does its own thing, this one only varies from your own starting point.
- I’d read that Chromecast functionality is built into Lollipop and was pleased to see it appearing in the notification drawer. Sadly, it failed to recognise any of my devices, which the standalone Chromecast app did.
- Audio mute options have disappeared from the power menu and from the notification drawer and it’s actually quite difficult to mute your phone now quickly. Many people are recommending use of an app named SoundHUD instead, although it isn’t free.
- Smart Lock is great – your phone will only lock if it doesn’t recognise one of a number of trusted items. You can set up face recognition, Bluetooth devices or even locations. In my case, I’ve set the car Bluetooth, my Android Smartwatch and my home location. Travelling from work to home, it didn’t lock, neither did it all night, showing (at one point) that it wasn’t locking because of my watch. This morning, however, it had locked, even though I’m at the home location and my watch is still near and switched on. So, a great idea but, right now, appears to have some issues.
- With CM11 you had an option called “Quiet Hours” when you could specify a start and end time each night for when the phone would go quiet. It was simple and just worked. In CM12 it’s now known as “Interruptions” when you can mute sounds – it’s more powerful as you can specify different days of the week and which sounds to allow through. However, it’s switched off by default (even though I had Quiet Hours switched on before the update) and doesn’t mute ALL sounds, no matter which options you tick – certain system sounds still play.
With some of these we had this functionality before, in the KitKat version of CM. Yes, many of the changes are down to Android but the whole point of CM is that they can improve upon the bass Android build, yet with 12S it appears more and more like the basic Android version. Why would CM remove all the mute options in the power menu, for instance?
So, today I went out – I visited the National Video Game Arcade in Nottingham. Not sure where to go, I turned to Google Maps. It showed me where I was and the arrow changed direction as I moved but didn’t advance up the road as I walked. Meanwhile, my Google Wear watch stated that there was no GPS signal, although my phone said nothing about this. After a few minutes, Google Play Services crashed. A few minutes later, it all started working again. Basically, there are some bugs – this isn’t the first Google Play Services crash I’ve had since upgrading, in particular. At one point, too, my watch disconnected – checking my phone one of the Android services had hung and a message had popped up. Clicking on a button, the phone continued normally and my watch reconnected.
That’s not to say all is doom and gloom. Here are a couple of my favourite new features…
- The new power screen not only shows how the battery has been performing but gives a prediction for how long it will last – this is much better!
- You can now prioritise your apps, deciding which ones can disturb you and which can’t. This links back the inability now to mute everything, as priority apps can still communicate with you. This is why the mute has gone – Android believe you should have the option to still hear from anything that is a priority. I don’t agree
but the upside of this prioritising is that you can also use this to determine which apps will give status updates on your lock screen.
And even some of the negatives are also positives – the Smart Lock (when it works) is excellent, for instance.
But even after this, there’s still an elephant in the room. Battery life. After fully charging the phone this morning, it was already down to 89% capacity just 2 hours later. I’m told the phone needs to re-calibrate after the upgrade, so it may be a few charges until it’s known exactly what’s happening – I’ll definitely be reporting back on how that goes. And, I don’t know if it’s just me, but when it shows what percentage each app has used of the battery, they no longer add anywhere close to the full amount – whether 100% or the amount used. This is making recognising any issues hard work.
Day 3 – Battery life update
After the sudden plunge initially it appeared to even off and I still had plenty the next day.
Unfortunately as soon as I went out for a short time, battery life plummeted even quicker than before – in fact, the phone got very hot. As I’d been out in my car it had connected to my Bluetooth – to prevent music automatically playing (as it does) I use an app to prompt for connection – this was running but I certainly can’t think why this would cause such a massive drain (particularly as is it didn’t with 11S).
The battery graph is to the right. Click on it for a larger version. Meantime, investigations continue.
Well, today didn’t go well. I’d left the phone charging overnight so took it off as I left the house at a good 100% capacity. By the time I reached work it was down by 6% – the new battery screen helpfully showed no apps. Now, I do play music through Bluetooth, but this would normally account for 3%, not double that amount.
One thing that could have had an effect was the fact that when I got about two thirds to work I realised I had no network connection. At all. A reboot of the phone corrected this. Of all the issues, randomly having no network is the most important one for me, as it’s why I carry a phone with me.
Oh, and Google Play Services crashed. Again.
A couple of of other niggles that I’ve forgotten to mention up to this point…
- The new messaging app can’t tell the difference between phone numbers with and without the international dialling code at the front of them, causing half my messages to now appear without the person’s name.
- Often when my phone comes in it does so with extremely low brightness – normally a stab of the screen with my finger brings the brightness back up (although I am prodding an unknown part of the screen, which has often lead me to press something I didn’t intend to)
What I have done, now, is to boot into the recovery and clear the cache – I’ll see if that makes a difference. I’m tempted to do a factory reset too, but we’ll see how it goes.
All this and it’s only 9:30am.
Yesterday turned out to be a lot better – since wiping the cache, the phone appears a lot more stable. I’ve therefore updated my manual update instructions to include this cache wipe as an extra step.
I’ve also ensured all the issues I’ve seen are reported on the Cyanogen bug tracker, although I need to add one more – the issues I’ve seen with Smart Lock appear to be with the location part of it. The phone should remain unlocked when at home, but it’s not.
Still relatively stable, although Contacts crashed on me this morning. The battery lasted 2 days, which is a lot better than it was.
Smart Lock, however, is consistently worse, however, since a recent Google Play Services update – in particular it keeps locking whilst I’m in the car, even though both my car’s Bluetooth and my Google Wear watch are listed as trusted devices. I have opened up a ticket on the CM website for this to be looked into – the issue with Smart Lock not working with trusted locations has already been reported.
Over the last couple of days I’ve only had a couple of Google Play Services crashes and not much else. Battery is lasting 2 days, but only if I don’t use the phone a huge amount. Before I was getting into the 3rd day when used this way.
However, last night I was sent a link that shows that on the 20th April, the OTA update was halted due to the various issues, particularly one called “Wakelock” which has contributed to excessive battery drain ((nice of OnePlus to not inform users of this, unless you’re watching the forums with an eagle eye)). As a result a new version of 12S is now being distributed OTA – as before, I’ve installed it manually. All worked fine, except for a crash of the default Mail app which cycled through an error message that couldn’t be cleared – I rebooted the phone and (so far) it’s not repeated itself.
Just when I thought everything was settling down. Headed out in the car today and went to use my TomTom Go app to navigate my way – as happened with Google Navigation the week before, although moving, it didn’t show this on the screen. Eventually, Google Play Services crashed and movement started again. Sadly, Google Play Services kept crashing throughout the journey (which has, thankfully, short), causing me to have to click the error message away each time. Frustrating.
I’ve now, many weeks later, managed to fix the issue with Google Play Services crashing – read the details here!
Above I’d detailed a number of issues, so I thought it would be worth detailing the specific ones below, where there is an open bug report with Cyanogen.