The one word that pop ups first in our minds while thinking of the ParanoidAndroid ROMs is “awesome”! The PA team recently released the version 3.0 of this ROM which is now available for a quite number of high-end Android phones. I have been a fan of the PA ROM for a long time and the new release has almost captivated me with its beauty and performance. The ROM has been out there for a long time and does not need an eulogy to be sung to celebrate its success story.
Having used the the ParanoidAndroid ROM 3 for more than a week on my S3, I decided to write a little review of it also a few tips to help those who are new to it. The PA 3 is not currently available for all phones but we hope that as days pass, more and more device will be blessed with it. If you wish to find out if the latest version of the ROM is available for your phone or not, head over to this XDA page by PA Team member gokussjx which contains a huge list of devices currently supported.
Needless to mention that PA is an open source project maintained and developed by a well-bred team of Android enthusiasts. Since it is a custom ROM, you will have to root your phone first and then install a custom recovery like the CWM or TWRP on it. Okay, its time now to move on to a short review of the ParanoidAndroid ROM 3 where we shall consider why, or why not, you should give it a try.
Download & Install ParanoidAndroid 3+ ROM:
Just as your phone reboots after the flashing the PA 3 ROM, the change begins to show its face with the new, simple but elegant bootanimation with neon glow.
After the bootanimation comes the usual Gmail account, network and Google Wallet set ups and then you see the home screen. The latest PA ROM 3 is based on AOSP version 4.2.1 and therefore contains all the features found in the original Android environment.
The Home screen:
The ParanoidAndroid features the original Holo Launcher that we are all well familiar with. Just below the status bar we have Google Now search bar that is persistent and shows on all home screens. By tapping on this bar, you can quickly access the Google Now unified services that show necessary information such as weather, traffic, new appointments, flight schedules, public transits ans so on in the form of cards. You can terminate a card easily by swiping them to left or right. You can also launch Google Now quickly by touching and swiping your finger on the bottom nav bar icons from any screen.
The ParanoidAndroid ROM 3 comes with a bunch of beautiful wallpapers that you can apply by holding the homescreen. You can also see the option for changing the wallpaper or live wallpaper by tapping the option button (at least you can do it if you have a Galaxy phone). Another new feature that you can use now is the use of solid colors as your lock and home screen background. Currently, you can choose from seven colors, the strangest color being white because it made everything invisible except the icons. Whatever background you select is applied to both, the home and lock screens both, at the same time. You cannot thus apply separate backgrounds.
One feature that the current ROM lack is the inability to add or delete pages on the home screen, contrary to the lock screen where you can do both, add and remove pages.
If you are an experienced Android user, you must be knowing how to create an app folder on the phone’s home screen. Actually it is very easy. Just press and hold an app icon on your home screen and drag it over another app. Doing this will create a folder with your selected apps and games. To remove an app from a folder, tap on the folder and press and hold the app icon you want to remove. In case you want to delete a folder, either remove all app from it, or drag the whole folder to the delete icon on the screen.
Notification and Quick Settings Panel:
On the top of the screen, you have the status bar which can also be moved to the bottom of the screen if you apply the phablet or tablet mode of which we shall talk later. Swiping your finger from the top edge of the screen, you can open the notification center. With Android 4.2 update Google splitted the old notifications and toggles into two parts. Now you can open quick settings toggle panel by swiping down two fingers from the top edge of the screen. By tapping a tile in the quick settings, you can turn a function on or off and by long pressing a tile you can directly go to the settings interface of that toggle.
Android 4.2 supports multi-user functionality, just like a Windows PC, and there fore you can add more that one users for your device from Settings> Users> Add User. Each user has their own space, which they can customize with their own apps, wallpapers and so on. After you create a new user, that person needs to go through a setup process. It means he/she will have to set a different Google account, etc. Try it only if you have to really add a user. To add a user photo open the quick settings toggle panel, tap on the blank icon and select one from gallery.
ParanoidAndroid ROM 3 lets you edit the options, layout and customize the quick settings toggle tiles. Open Settings> Toolbars> Custom Tiles> Tiles and Layout. To rearrange tiles according to your convenience, touch and hold a tile and drag it the spot you prefer. If you want to delete a tile, touch and hold it and drag it to the recycle bin icon below. To add a new tile, just tap on the Add (+) icon and select the item from the list that pops up.
Read more on the next page!
Since we have already entered the settings options found in the ParanoidAndroid ROM 3, let’s take a look at a few of them. One of the cool features introduced with Android 4.2 is the Daydream function. We heard much about it at the time of Nexus 4 launch. Now you can enjoy it on any Android phone supported by ParanoidAndroid 3. It is a very interesting thing and is very similar to the screensaver feature on your Windows desktop. Daydream allows you to display content on your phone′s screen either when it’s docked or in the charging mode. When Daydream is on, your phone displays photo frames, photo tiles, colors, clock (digital or analog), snippets from Google Currents app and more while it is charging or docked.
Here again, I came across another bug. When you select the digital clock to be shown in the Daydream mode, the clock gets messy as minute and hour digits change. I am not sure whether it is a bug in Android 4.2.1 or the ROM, but it needs to be fixed.
This is how you can set up the Daydream mode on your phone with ParanoidAndroid ROM 3+:
- Go to the phone’s Settings> Display> Daydream.
- Turn on the Daydream feature from the top bar and select what would you like to display.
- Next, choose your selection and then choose when you want Daydream to start. This can be done by tapping the When to Daydream from the top bar.
- To see a preview, tap on “Start Now”
Then we have Advanced under device Settings and I think it is a phone model specific feature that lets you customize radio network connectivity, the look of display, backlight, LED and Haptic feedback (vibration) intensity and so on. On my phone it showed “Galaxy S III Settings and I guess other phones have different options under “Advanced” settings.
Next to Advanced, there is Security settings where you can set up screen lock mode, owner info that is displayed on the lockscreen, phone encryption, SIM lock, unknown sources (enable it to install apk files from SD card), and so on. These settings are found on all Android 4+ phones.
Just below the security settings we have Language and input settings from where one can change the language of the phone and customize the keyboard and voice commands and inputs.
The ParanoidAndroid ROM 3, like its earlier versions supports themes too. You can install any theme that is compatible with CM 10.1 Theme Chooser app and apply it from Settings> Themes>, and then tapping the “apply” icon on the top bar. To check it I downloaded a few themes like Pop Style and Neon Colors from the Google Play Store and they all worked fine.
The ParanoidAndroid ROM gives liberty enough to control the look and behavior of the bottom navigation bar on your phone. You can make it smaller, wider and arrange and add buttons on it. In the screenshot above, you can see I have added 5 buttons compared to the default 3. Let’s see how you can do it. Open Settings> Toolbars> Navigation Controls. The navigation bar is in a locked status by default and to edit it you will have to unlock it. You will be able to see the navigation control option only when the bar is visible. Tap on the “Locked” option on the top right corner. When it is unlocked, you will see add (+) icons on the nav bar. Tap on it and select a function from the available ones. To rearrange the icons, press and hold them and drag to a position of your choice,
Setting Up the Pie Launcher or Expanded Desktop Mode:
Here I am skipping the Lockscreen settings for now as we shall see it later. One of the coolest things that comes with the ParanoidAndroid ROM 3.0 is what the PA Team calls the “Expanded Desktop Mode” or Pie mode. It defines the way you navigate through your device in a whole new way. Here is what the PA Team says has to say about it:
It is called Expanded Desktop mode because if you activate the Pie launcher, you can remove the nav bar from the bottom, and even the status bar, and thus you will have more space on your phone’s screen. Let’s take a look on how it works and how you can set it up.
I tested all available Pie launcher options and found out that if you not configure it properly, you will certainly face problems in doing one or other thing on you phone. Suppose you select a huge trigger area for the launcher and place it on the right or left side of the screen, you will not be able to slide the screen smoothly. In the same if it is placed to top or bottom, you will not be able to open the app drawer or open the notification center. And if you choose a small trigger area, you will have to grope in darkness and be very accurate in touching the right spot to launch the PIE. The best set up that I will recommend you is as follows.
Open Settings> Toolbars. Under Pie Controls settings, you will see 7 options. First, tap on Trigger area and select Normal (default); then tap on Pie Style and choose Quick; Pie Gravity– Right or bottom; Pie Size– Small or Large; Item gap– Small. You can also check the Persistent menu button and Search options.
The Pie Controls settings does have to place the Pie launcher at the four sides of your phone’s screen, but there is an easier and quicker way that I discovered at random. You can move the launcher trigger spot from any screen and very quickly! Just launch the Pie and when it is opened, drag your finger to the center of right, left, top or bottom area of the screen. You will a semi-transparent circular animated shape at the edge of the screen where you dragged your finger. You have to do nothing else. The Pie has already moved to that spot. Try it now!
In the above screenshot you can see the “expanded desktop mode” in full play. In the fullscreen mode you will not be able to see either the status bar or the bottom nav bar. Thanks to the expanded desktop, you can still access all function of these two invisible iteps easily through the Pie launcher. All the buttons of the nav bar and the info of the status bar and notification center beautifully presented in a compact style. Just launch the Pie and swipe the finger to the nav buttons to easily perform tasks like going to recent apps, open Google Now, Home, back and the options related to an opened app. You can open the notification center by swiping finger to the notification items and also the quick setting toggles by swiping the finger to the blank area above time or beside notification items.
As we move on, I will also show how you can change the colors and layouts in different apps and the whole UI of the phone as well.
Playing with the Hybrid Properties in PA3:
The hybrid nature of the ParanoidAndroid ROM is what makes it so special and unique as well. No other ROM, stock or custom, in the world has this hybrid nature and it is for this we should heartily be thankful to the guys behind this amazing ROM. The term “hybrid” here stands for a masterly blend of phone and tablet UI layout into one whole. With ParanoidAndroid ROM installed on you Android phone, you can enjoy the sense of having a phone, a phablet, and a tablet at the same time.
It must have been a hard task for the PA Team to bend the tablet frame work to the portrait resolution of a phone and they have done it with sheer perfection and elegance. You might not have seen any ROM with so much flexibility where you can assign a different color combination for each app, resize it and choose from a number of layouts.
Here are just a few examples of how the status bar, notifications and quick settings panel and the nav bar look when you change the layout of you phones from Hybrid Properties settings.
Open Settings> Hybrid Properties and select a layout. Try all layouts to experience the difference and find the best one for you. To see the advanced options and possibilities of customization slide the screen to right (see the 1st screenshot above) and tap on “Interface” option. Here you can customize the workspace, that is the size of the screen you would like to be available. If you want to enlarge, decrease the size of the bottom nav bar, or even make it disappear, for example, play with the value of the nav bar. To make it disappear altogether, set the value to 0% and tap on “Apply” on the top bar. Then, you can also determine what layout you would like to see for the apps installed on your phone.
Lets now scroll down to the next option called “Apps” where you can define size, layouts or user interface, color, etc for each app. Below I am going to show you how you can get a colorful Pie according to your liking. You can use this instance to customize any app.
Open Settings> Hybrid Properties> Apps and select “Launcher” (see below). Set size to 320, then slide the screen to left and you will see “Layout/UI” section which should be set according to your device resolution (the default value is 360). Slide the screen again and you will find the color change section. Tap on the color block in front of the elements and assign your favorite via color-picker. Having selected the color, tap on the “New color” box. Repeat the procedure to assign colors to all elements and finally tap “Apply” at the top bar. You can experiment with different color until you get desired result.
Setting Up the Lockscreen:
The ParanoidAndroid ROM 3 features the new customization and widget supported lockscreen found in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Let’s see how we can customize it. Open Settings> Lockscreen and you see all available options for LS customization. Tap on Shortcuts option and then on + Add icon at the top bar and you will be able to add up to six favorite apps to be shown on the lockscreen. You can launch these apps quickly by touching the icons.
If you are not a first-timer with Android 4.2, you must be knowing that you can add widgets to your lockscreen. When you are on the lockscreen, swipe your finger from the right edge of the screen to launch the camera app. By swiping from the left to right, you can see a new page with “+” sign. Tap on it and select a widget that you want to appear. Press and hold a lockscreen page and drag it to top of the screen to the “Remove” text to delete it.
If you wish to appreciate the hard working guys behind this wonderful ROM with Hybrid Engine, do not forget to say “Thanks” at the respective XDA threads. There is yet another more gentlemanly way you can support the PA Team and get something useful in return too! Just buy the “Paranoid Android Preferences” app from the Google Play that will unlock some useful PA preferences features on your phone with PA 3+ ROM.
[appbox googleplay com.paranoid.preferences.pro]
Access External SD Card with CM File Manager:
Read this tutorial: Click Here
Performance and Battery:
The PA3+ is an AOSP based ROM and more than anything, I like it for its beauty, especially the Hybrid flexibility and that delicious PIE thing. The performance of the ROM is fast and responsive but one thing that still concerns me is the battery-life. Do not expect a very decent battery performance from it. Install it, enjoy it and wait for the battery-drain fix to come. The guys at PA Team are very hard-working and I hope they will soon overcome all issues that surrounds the PA3+ ROM. If you have a rooted phone and you missed it, you are missing a great treat!
I hope you will like my humble attempt. I have tried to dig into things deeper with a view to help all and make PA3 more enjoyable. Thank you for going through this article with 3443 words. I salute your patience for tolerating it. Cheers to all!
This article was last modified on July 2, 2016, 7:25 am