As a Verizon user, it’s unfortunate that the most recent Nexus phone I have access to is a Galaxy Nexus, but due to its smaller memory footprint, KitKat and custom ROMs built on KitKat run very well on it. This includes the third Alpha build of Paranoid Android 4.5, on which I’ve kicked the tires since it was released early Tuesday morning.
Setup was all by the numbers – Paranoid Android’s latest Gapps package is dated 7/25/2014 so thankfully I didn’t have a laundry list of Google apps with updates available when I first opened the Play Store. As I mentioned above, in my experience custom ROMs based on KitKat run very well on the Galaxy Nexus, and the latest PA alpha is no exception. Animations and transitions are fluid, and it’s easy to believe that the redesigned Recents feature was tweaked for performance since the first alpha. Fun fact: although the new Recents implementation bears a slight resemblance to Android L, it has been in the works for months, long before the Developer Preview was announced at Google I/O.
Speaking of Recents, when you run Alpha 3 you get to choose whether you want to try the new design when you first tap on the Recents button. You’ll also be presented with this choice when PA 4.5 is ready for final release. Before you’re presented with the new design option, you must choose whether to set the Recents button to clear all apps when you tap it again. If you choose this option, tapping once in Recents view clears all but the most recent app and tapping it again will close that app as well.
As I mentioned in a previous article, the redesigned Recents view functions almost like an accordion, with larger thumbnails of your recently-used apps lined up vertically and app names displayed in their respective Action Bars where applicable. In other words, there is no column displaying app names on the left side which would otherwise restrict the size of the thumbnails as it does in stock Android.
Of course, I also enjoyed the traditional PA favorites from the stable builds, such as Hover, the expandable volume control, the custom Quick Settings and Immersive Mode with PIE controls.
I ran into no problems that you wouldn’t run into with any other KitKat ROM on a nearly 3-year-old device. In practice, only the new Recents “card stack” view is what puts the “Alpha” in “Paranoid Android 4.5 Alpha 3.” If you’re a fan of Paranoid Android and don’t mind testing a new feature out, you won’t regret trying this alpha build out, even using it as your daily driver.
If you want to try it out for yourself, you can get the alpha for your 2012/2013 Nexus device here.