- VanirAOSP’s Rebellious Twin Sister;
- Recently Emerged From Month-Long Overhaul;
- Field Testing For Bleeding Edge Commits, Scripts, Bug Fixes, & UI Advances;
- Experimental Nature Leaves Door Open For Unpredictable Behavior;
- Performance & UI Fluidity On Par w/ VAOSP;
- Matching Set Of Core CyanogenMod Features;
- Benchmarks and Battery Performance Within VAOSP Range;
- Overall Stability Appears Improved Over Past Builds.
In lieu of providing you all with another comprehensive (read: long-winded) review, this weeks offering will focus primarily on the ways in which Commotio differs from it’s partner-in-crime, and subject of my previous write-up: VanirAOSP. For the average user, the differences are few and not so readily apparent. The key to understanding the dynamic between these two ROMs is recognizing that Commotio exists to serve as a testing ground for experimental commits, test scripts, UI improvements, bug fixes, and general hot-off-the-press type advances which are ultimately merged into VanirAOSP after being proven safe and reliable, meaning that Commotio lives on the cutting edge of Android Development.
In the past, Commotio has been somewhat of a hit-or-miss affair, with a 50/50 shot of any given build being a gem or being so crippled that it’s enough of a challenge just getting it to boot up properly. In fairness, as a relatively long-term follower of Commotio there has been far more gems then there have been borks. Additionally, throughout the course of it’s lifespan DHO has done a pretty solid job at aborting some of the more broken builds before they fell into the hands of the public. Previously, builds that did make it onto the Official Download Page received witty naming conventions indicating the level of trouble you stood to run into when flashing them, from ‘mostly_harmless’ to ‘will_eat_your_cat’. This of course caused some confusion for users that didn’t know any better, but I always thought it was rather clever.
So, up until this point the schtick with Commotio had always been, when it’s good it’s really good, and when it’s bad, it’s.. well, you know. Then, at the beginning of June, Commotio builds came to a screeching halt. During this time, based on my own inferences as well as communication with DHO himself, Commotio was presumably subjected to a major overhaul. In fairness, I put off completing this review in anticipation of the fruit of that labor. Suffice it to say, it was worth the wait. The apprehensively titled updates have been ditched in favor of a more conventional nightly build system that will no longer consume your pets, which gives the impression that the ROM has seen an improvement in overall stability. I can attest that this is true for the initial post-revamp build, but a few nightlies have dropped since I began testing so I can’t exactly speak on it’s consistency. With that being said, I get the impression that things are looking up.
Like VanirAOSP, Commotio is a notably smooth operator. It shares the same precise scrolling, responsive interface, lag-free animations, and fluid transitions as it’s sister build. Updated Synaptics Drivers are certainly present, and thus touch response was hardly an issue here. Determining which of the two ROMs has the edge is something I’m not sure I’d be able to do unless I was able to evaluate them both side by side. Suffice it to say, they both fared exceptionally well, and I’m unsure as to whether VAOSP actually ran better, or if I’ve just become desensitized to the superior performance after weeks of running two very similar ROMs and thus not as excited by Commotio due to the Law of Diminishing Returns.
For an experimental build, I experienced very little in the way of unexpected behavior, yet slightly more than I did with VanirAOSP. It should be noted that I did run into a recurring force close issue while trying to upload movies of questionable origin to RealCloud for casting, a problem that I did not encounter with VAOSP. I also ran into intermittent music playback issues on both CM’s Eleven Music Player and VLC wherein the audio would play for a couple of seconds and then cut out. Finally, I did experience one random reboot but in all fairness it’s difficult to say whether the ROM itself was at fault or if I brought that upon myself.
Regarding Benchmarks, Commotio performed almost identically when subjected to AnTuTu & Geek Bench stress testing. The only noticeable difference ironically being that Commotio obtained higher scores on AnTuTu than it did with Geek Bench, whereas the opposite was true for VAOSP. Despite this, scores for both ROMs all fell within a close enough range to one another that any fluctuations can be chalked up to common variables. Remember what I was saying about Benchmarks being inconsistent? Yeah.
Commotio: AnTuTu & Geek Bench Results (Stock Configuration)
Like it’s sibling, Commotio doesn’t go so far as to advertise itself as being an AOSP ROM, but it stands to reason that if VanirAOSP classifies itself as such, so too does Commotio. In which case, it just becomes a matter of semantics. When I think AOSP, I envision a pure, Stock Android experience and that’s not necessarily what this is. If I were to simplify the issue down to CM = more features and AOSP = less features then Commotio definitely lands on the CM side of things without being too over the top with it’s available customizations. You can expect the same base set of advanced options available to you in VanirAOSP, which is also the same set of features you’ve come to expect from CM nightlies. Nothing more, nothing less. As a matter of fact, based on the settings interface alone, I’m not sure that an average user would be able to differentiate between this and a standard CM nightly beyond maybe a slight deviation in the way items are categorized. That being said, the whole debate is rather inconsequential, so origins aside, here’s what Commotio has to offer shamlessly plagiarized from VAOSP’s Review:
- CM-ish NavBar Customizations:
Power/Home Button to End/Answer Calls, NavBar Shortcut Remapping (Longpress/Double Tap Actions for Home/Recents/Menu Softkeys), Basic CM NavBar Layout Editor, Basic Power Menu Customization;
- Bare-bones CM Status Bar Tweaks (Clock Position + AM/PM Indicator, Battery Status Icon – Portrait/Landscape/Circle with or w/o % Text), Status Bar Slide Brightness Control;
- Status Bar Double-Tap-To-Sleep;
- Basic Notification Drawer Customizations, 24 Configurable Quick Settings Tiles, Option to Hide Brightness Slider, & Quick Pulldown Settings;
- Head Up Notification Control, In-Built Notification Manager w/ Per-App Filters, Notification Accsess Control, Global Notification Blocking, Lockscreen/System Persistant Notification Control, & Configurable Priority Notification Settings;
- Basic CM cLock Widget Settings (Clock, Weather, Calendar Preferences);
- Lockscreen Left/Right Shortcut EdItor.
- Option to Enable Preset Pre-App Performance Profiles;
- Screen-Off Gesture Essentials, Double-Tap-To-Wake, V = Torch, ⭕ = Camera, < > = Seek Music Tracks, Two Finger Salute = Pause Playback;
- CM Theme Engine!
- Privacy Guard!!
- Adaptive Brightness & Live/Ambient Display Settings, Accidental Wakeup Prevention;
- Baked In Custom DPI Settings (320 – 560)!!!
- Custom Battery/Notification LED Color Settings;
- Remove Search Bar From Recents Menu;
- Device Profile Support.
I’m going to keep this short, as far as Battery Performance goes, same rules apply. Expect to achieve 4-5 hrs SOT with heavy usage, 5-6 hrs with moderate usage and 6-8 hours with an appropriately configured kernel and a well implemented regimen of Xposed Modules. An average user can expect to land in that 5-6 hour range. As you’ll see in the video I’ve put together, I was on course for 5 hour SOT during that cycle with very heavy usage including the capture and editing of that very video.
Because I don’t have a whole lot of new content to discuss this time around, I’m going to integrate my Kernel Spotlight into the Battery Life section. As you can see in the following graphic, while VAOSP and Commotio do not share identical kernels, as far as the stock configurations go, they might as well. Still, all things being equal, I wanted to provide Commotio’s base kernel specs:
As you can see, I’ve omitted the ‘Octobot Treatment’ column this time around. Reason being is that unlike VanirAOSP, I could not get UKM to play nicely with Commotio. It was also far from perfect on VAOSP, but in that case I was able to get Synapse and SetCPU to run concurrently, where on Commotio it ended up being that I had to choose one or the other, lest neither functioned properly. I typically like to set base kernel configurations with Synapse and then fine-tune profiles with SetCPU to dictate CPU parameters when specific criteria are met, but because of the limitations a stock kernel imposes on UKM I chose to dump that in favor of SetCPU which allowed me to exercise more practical control over my CPU’s behavior for the given situation. I ultimately ran a modified SetCPU config to compensate for the lack of UKM during the last two days of testing, which was implemented as follows:
Finally, for your viewing pleasure, I’ve put together a visual tour of the ROM, in addition to showcasing it’s aesthetics after I got done playing with it, so there’s your Octobot Treatment. Please note the Battery Stats and SetCPU Profiles, and again, if you see features that I haven’t touched on it means that it’s something I’ve implemented manually. Please compare this video to the stock screenshot gallery provided below.
I don’t at all intend to come off as dismissive, or as though I mean to marginalize Commotio in comparison to VanirAOSP. It’s just that, as I said, there’s so much overlap between the two that much of the information there is to be had regarding Commotio was already covered extensively in Week 2’s VanirAOSP Review instead I’ve attempted to focus on what sets the two apart. Ultimately, both are stellar standalone ROMs that are equally viable as Daily Driver candidates depending on your prerogative. I personally have always preferred Commotio because it appeals to my experimental indulgences, whereas your everyday user is likely to prefer VanirAOSP for the simple fact that it offers none of the risk and all of the reward. Realistically, the risks associated with Commotio are probably not as severe as I’ve made them out be, yet they are present and thus I find it prudent to note. Due to the increased headache potential alone I am assigning Commotio a score of 7.5/10 on the Abitrary Flashaholic’s ROM Evaluation Scale ™, a full point lower than VanirAOSP. Wowzers!
So which one is right for you? It boils down to nothing more than a Chocolate vs. Vanilla decision. Here’s something to consider, you want to run Chrome as your Web Browser, do you: A) Download ChromeBeta because you absolutely can’t wait to check out the new features and take a look at things to come, or do you B) Stick with regular ol’ Chrome and patiently await stable releases because you value proven dependability. Neither course of action is inherently right or wrong, but if your answer was A then I’d undoubtedly recommend trying Commotio on for size, and if you answered B then perhaps it’s best to stay the course with VanirAOSP. Well, I suppose this turned out to be pretty long-winded after all.. Whoooops!