LineageOS is the most popular Custom ROM for Android devices. It is an open-source operating system based on the android platform and is built for smartphones and tablets. It is the successor of CyanogenMod, which is a successor of Cyanogen. Cyanogen was first created to offer a modified version of Android, that would provide additional or improved features and better privacy compared to stock Android releases.
History & Background
LineageOS got its start when Cyanogen was released in 2009 for the HTC smartphones “Dream” and “Magic”. In the early days of Cyanogen, it was mainly developed by a developer with the pseudonym of JesusFreke. The development work was eventually taken over by Steve Kondik, who was primarily responsible for the transition from Cyanogen to CyanogenMod. December 2016 saw the launch of LineageOS, which is the latest iteration of the ROM. This has been followed by 6 new versions, accompanying official Android OS updates
LineageOSoffers many additional features that are not provided by the official Android releases. Some of the biggest improvements offered by LineageOS are:
Privacy Guard: This allows users to control permissions for apps they have installed. It lets you decide whether an app can access certain data on your device.
Interface Personalization: LineageOS provides users with the ability to highly customize the interface of their device such as the navigation bar, notification drawer, status bar, etc.
Customizable Button Actions: You can control what the buttons on your devices do. It can be extremely useful if you want to map specific functions to any buttons.
Profiles: You can save multiple profiles with different groups of settings to easily switch between different modes. For example, if you want to turn off all your notification except for calls and turn off your data while you work. You can save these settings in a profile and switch to that profile rather than changing every single setting.
Is Lineage-OS Google Free?
Google owns Android and all Android devices come with pre-installed Google apps. This has helped Google harvest huge amounts of data from android users and grow at an incredible pace. LineageOS devices do not come with Google Apps, which prevents the flow of your data to Google. This google-free environment provides users with more control over their data and enhances the security the devices can offer.
Supported LineageOS Devices
As your device gets old, the original manufacturers have fewer incentives to push updates on those devices. One of the reasons custom ROMs like LineageOS are popular is the limited support for older devices. LineageOS can be run on almost 200 devices, which include many older models. Most major manufacturers are on the list of supported devices. You can find this list here.
Should you install LineageOS?
As your device gets old, the original manufacturers have fewer incentives to push updates on those devices. One of the If you are looking for a way to extend your smartphone’s life, installing LineageOS can ensure that you have access to the latest version of Android and continue to receive good support. Additionally, it also offers improvements on privacy, customizability and performance of stock Android. Finally, if you do decide to install a custom ROM, it would be extremely difficult to find one with better device support and a stronger community than LineageOS.
LineageOS got its start when Cyanogen was released in 2009 for the HTC smartphones “Dream” and “Magic”. In the
Google has been known for its dynamic approach towards technology and therefore along with their search engine they have managed to introduce other extremely powerful tools. These tools are aimed at enhancing the user experience and allowing them to get more out of their devices. These tools come pre-installed on most Android devices and include Gmail, Play Store, Google Chrome, Google Calendar, and much more. Gapps or Google Applications refer to such apps offered by Google.
G-apps packages are an integral part of the Android custom ROM landscape since many custom ROMs do not support official google applications. There are several Gapps packages available for people to download and install on their unlocked Android device.
Google Apps and LineageOS
One of the major reasons for the emergence of custom ROMs is the tracking and security issues that have plagued the official Android OS. Custom ROMs such as LineageOS, have been built with the user’s security as a priority and hence do not include G-apps by default. However, G-apps offer a ton of utility and the lack of these applications can sour a user’s experience.
Lineage OS does not ship with Google Applications to ensure better security. However, you can easily install Google Apps on your LineageOS device to extract similar productivity as a normal Android device. Nevertheless, LineageOS allows users to use their devices completely Google-free.
Why should you use Gapps?
Gapps allow users to carry out technologically complicated tasks with extreme ease and enhance their productivity. Some of the biggest advantages of G-apps are:
Access to other apps: With Gapps, users have access to the Google Play Store and can easily download third-party apps as it offers one of the largest libraries of mobile applications. Without Google Play it can be quite difficult to download the applications you need.
Better coordination between Users: Google Apps makes collaborating with others super simple. It allows users to create and modify documents in real-time, conduct video calls, share work, access apps developed by different developers, among other things.
Reliable Google Apps are an extremely reliable set of tools and have proven to be able to handle strenuous tasks.
Convenient: The data is often stored online with Google Apps and therefore the files are easy to store and are readily available for use on multiple devices.
Internet Connection is mandatory: It is significant to note that while a user operates Gapps everything is hosted on the cloud. This means, to access such services the user will require an internet connection.
Security: Whenever data is stored online the security associated with it can be questioned as it is tough to rival the security of a physical locker. Historically, cloud storage has been a subject of unsolicited attacks by third parties, as well as data breaches by the host.
As discussed earlier, most of the stock ROMs have Google Apps pre-installed. However, if your device does not have these you can easily download them through the Google Play Store.
On the hand, AOSP (Android Open Source Project) based custom ROMs do not have Google Apps due to licensing restrictions. Therefore, in order to use Gapps on such ROMs, it is required that the apps are installed separately via custom recovery. It is further important to note that every time a user installs a new custom ROM these apps need to be re-downloaded. Custom ROMs such as LineageOS for microG (hyperlinked to alternatives page) include G-apps as part of the ROM making it easier for users to enjoy the utility these apps provide. However, most custom ROMs will require users to go through the process manually.
There are various different Gapps packages available to select from. Users can choose to install packages that only include the essentials such as the Play Store, Gmail, etc. or they can install packages that offer many Google apps at once. You can find a list of a few different variants of Gapps packages here.
You can find instructions for installing G-apps on your device here.
Have you used Gapps on your LineageOS device? If so, please share your experience in the comments. And if you haven’t please let us know why!
LineageOS is a free and open-source operating system for smartphones and tablet devices, based on the Android platform. It was officially released on December, 24th 2016, and has since gained immense popularity among tech enthusiasts.
LineageOS is one of the most popular custom ROMs with extremely strong support around it. However, over the years other custom ROMs have emerged and are offering competitive features. We have compiled some of the popular alternatives to LineageOS.
LineageOS for microG
LineageOS for microG was released in 2017 by microG as an unofficial fork of LineageOS. MicroG allows developers to create Android apps and access replica APIs provided by Google Play Services. This includes APIs for Google Play, Google Maps, Messaging and Google’s geolocation. However, microG offers better privacy and less tracking compared to Google’s original APIs, which is one of the big reasons that has attracted users to custom ROMs
MicroG allows mobile device users to access Google mobile services with less tracking of their device activity.
LineageOS for MicroG comes with F-Droid already installed, which is an alternative to the Google Play store and offers free and open source applications.
The ROM offers increased privacy along with a stock Android experience.
LineageOS for microG is available for all devices supported by LineageOS.
LineageOS for microG is not entirely free and still has some paid components.
If you want to install microG on ROMs other than LineageOS you will have to go through the process manually, which can be a tedious task.
Ubuntu Touch is the Ubuntu operating system for mobile phones originally created by Canonical and presently developed by UBports Community. The system is developed with the sole purpose of providing a secure user experience. Data management on the operating system is fully transparent and no data is ever tracked unless explicitly asked.
Ubuntu touch is built on the extremely secure Ubuntu operating system and brings this security to mobile devices.
Ubuntu’s ‘Scopes’ feature provides an intuitive user experience by incorporating certain apps into the platform.
Users can use Ubuntu’s ‘Convergence mode’ to use their mobile phone as a desktop device.
Ubuntu Touch does not offer an extensive library of apps.
The OS is known to be buggier than some of its competitors
GrapheneOS is an open-source, consumer-grade mobile operating system based on the Android Open Source Project or AOSP. Founded in 2019, GrapheneOS aims to improve the privacy and security offered by the official Android OS. Similar to LineageOS, it also ships completely google free, which in turn results in protection from tracking by Google.
It is one of the most secure mobile operating systems available to the general public and is endorsed by big names that include Jack Dorsey, Edward Snowden and many more.
GrapheneOS offers great customizability when comes to choosing what apps you need on your device
The lack of Google Play services or other implementations of Google services such as microG.
A small number of supported devices
Apart from the above-mentioned alternatives, there are many other alternatives to LineageOS that offer different features. LineageOS has gained popularity over a period of time for many notable reasons that include security, the enhanced life span of your phone, etc. However, with the inception of these newer alternatives, the options for users are not limited. With newer features being introduced frequently the market has become an exciting place for tech enthusiasts as the competition leads to the emergence of better technology.
What do you think is the best alternative to LineageOS? Please share your thoughts in the comments!