There are a lot of great ROMs for the Galaxy Nexus, and Nexus phones in general, but one that has caught the attention, and imaginations, of thousands of users is AOKP, or Android Open Kang Project. Created by romanbb in the early days of AOSP 4.0.3, it has since evolved into 29 builds, with support for 20 devices, including the Asus Transformer Prime, HTC Sensation and even the HP TouchPad.
Keeping with the tradition of most Ice Cream Sandwich-based custom ROMs, AOKP doesn’t stray too far from the stock aesthetic, but improves upon the core functionality in numerous ways. The additions are subtle but significant, including the ability to add four- or eight-shortcut schemes to the lockscreen, provide weather information right from the notification bar, or change the style of the battery meter. Changes are subtle but incredibly powerful, and with the many themers working on improving the look of the OS you can download remixed ROMs based on the AOKP source that look nothing like the original.
AOKP has grown to such an extent that it “employs” dozens of developers, some of whom take care of individual devices while others cater to multiple handsets. The Nexus devices were the first to receive AOKP affection, but as ICS compatibility has expanded so has its ability to be successfully loaded onto other devices.
The main reason I like AOKP is not for its “tweaks,” but rather because it improves performance significantly over the stock ICS experience. Whereas most users are stuck on Android 4.0.1 or 4.0.2, AOKP has been merged with AOSP to run Android 4.0.4, meaning all the related bug fixes, performance and feature improvements are present, plus whatever tweaks the AOKP has implemented themselves. This results in the best ICS experience I’ve had, period.
To install AOKP, you’ll need to have an unlocked bootloader and a custom recovery installed, or at least root access with which to load ROM Manager. Head on over to forum.aokp.co for more information on the ROM itself, and to RootzWiki to install the version for the Galaxy Nexus.