Our phonebook lists have probably grown so long that the only way to tame these wild beasts would be to corral them into groups. While Android's People contacts app does have that capability, it is limited only to Google's proprietary syncing service or Microsoft Exchange. Ever an advocate of open source solutions, OmniROM has introduced a patch that opens the doors for other external syncing services to get the same functionality.
On the one hand, it's almost understandable that Google would give preferential treatment to its own services. On the other hand, contact grouping in this day and age of increasing mobile devices and Internet access seems pretty much a necessity rather than a special add-on. OmniROM's Pulsar, said to be the team's open source guy, wanted to level the playing field for other contact syncing solutions to get group syncing working as well.
The new feature practically revolves around CardDAV, an open protocol used by many services and apps for syncing contacts. The changes have already been accepted into OminROM's source code and is now rolling out into nightly builds. Once this feature hits users, they will be able to take contact syncing apps like the open source DAVdroid and use it with their service of their choice like ownCloud and get the exact same level of group functionality that is otherwise only available with Google and Exchange accounts.
This little episode definitely shows OmniROM's commitment to open solutions and open source thinking, which is all well and good. Unfortunately, the custom ROM still has a long way to go in terms of becoming more stable and more viable alternative to the likes of CyanogenMod or Paranoid Android. That said, the source code changes for this new feature is quite trivial and, of course, open source, so other custom ROMs could easily adopt it in order to give their own users a bit of new freedom.