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CyanogenMod 7 is testing in the wild, bringing Gingerbread to 14 more Android devices

It's no secret that Android users are getting a bit testy these days when it comes to OS updates for their phones -- but who can blame them? Only half of them are running recent versions, and Gingerbread is only officially running on one phone.

It sounds pretty dire at first, but where the carriers fail, the Android community tends to pick up the slack. CyanogenMod, one of the most popular alternative Android ROMs out there, has crossed deep into Gingerbread territory with version 7. That means your seemingly ancient 6-month-old phone may actually be able to keep up with the times after all.

CyanogenMod 7 hasn't been fully released yet, but nightly builds are freely available for intrepid users to test to their hearts' content. At the moment, a total of 15 phones have working builds, with one of them being the Nexus S. I've been running it myself for about 2 weeks now on a T-Mobile G2, and I can honestly say that it doesn't feel or act like something that's technically RC0 (usually thought of as there be dragons) status.

Now, if you haven't yet played with a Nexus S (or otherwise used Gingerbread), you may still be curious as to what exactly is different. To be honest, it won't seem all that different from Froyo. A somewhat decent comparison might be OS X Snow Leopard and OS X Leopard: Leopard was a very solid base, and Snow Leopard basically reworked all the parts that users don't see, while adding only the smallest visual improvements. This is more or less the case with Gingerbread and Froyo -- you might not see massive differences in how it looks, but you'll be able to feel how much quicker it is at just about everything it does.

The only caveat, of course, is that your phone must be rooted. So if you haven't yet taken the leap and freed your device, you won't be able to partake in any Gingerbread goodness until your carrier decides to update you, or until you simply give up and buy a new phone (which is probably the most likely eventuality).

So, if a healthy amount of beta-sized bugs don't scare you -- and you've got a rooted Android device on hand -- then you may be in for a pleasant surprise.

These are the devices that currently have working builds of CyanogenMod 7 out in the wild, but don't lose hope if you have a popular device and it isn't listed. The CM team still has some kinks to work out for some phones before open testing can begin, and even then -- you might get lucky since new devices are supported with every iteration of the ROM.
  • HTC Glacier (T-Mobile MyTouch 4G)
  • HTC Vision (T-Mobile G2, or Desire Z in the UK)
  • Samsung Nexus S
  • HTC legend
  • HTC Wildfire
  • HTC Espresso (T-Mobile MyTouch 3G Slide)
  • Motorola Droid
  • HTC Passion (Nexus One)
  • Commtiva z71 (Motorola XT502)
  • HTC Intruder (AT&T Aria)
  • HTC Incredible (Droid Incredible)
  • HTC Supersonic (Sprint Evo 4G)
  • Motorola Bravo
  • HTC Desire HD (AT&T Inspire 4G)
  • GeeksPhone One
Regular modders and ROM-flashers will know what to do at this point, but if you're new to the game you should definitely hit up your phone's section on the XDA Developers forum. For one, you'll need your phone to be fully rooted, unlocked, and free as a bird. That part's easy enough to accomplish if you follow the right instructions (which can be found in your phone's forum section), but usually entails a sizable risk should you make a mistake. Once you're rooted and in full control of your phone, just look for a thread in your section that's likely titled something along the lines of "CyanogenMod 7 Nightlies!!!1" -- and remember, always make a backup before flashing.

Tags: android, cellphones, cyanogen, cyanogenmod, CyanogenMod 7, Cyanogenmod7, gingerbread, mobile phones, MobilePhones, ROM