As part of an effort to expand adoption of CyanogenMod, the developers recently released the CyanogenMod Installer app in Google Play. All was well for a few weeks, but today Google contacted the CyanogenMod team to explain that the installer app was in violation of Google Play’s policies. So, the CM folks agreed to take the app down.


The app acts as a tool to help users get their devices connected to a computer over ADB – it doesn't actually do any of the heavy lifting of unlocking and flashing the device. All that is handled by the desktop client that connects over ADB. Google's rationale for the removal was that the CM Installer app ‘encourages users to void their warranty,’ which is unacceptable even if it doesn't technically violate a rule (see update below). Of course, by that logic most root-only apps and tools encourage people to void warranties.

The installer app is still available for download on the CM site when people click "Get Started." It can be sideloaded like any other app after Unknown Sources is enabled in the settings. CyanogenMod is also submitting the app to the Amazon and Samsung app stores, where it will probably be rejected. Apparently it's harder to go legit that we thought.

Note, the app may still show up with a direct link for a while, but it's already gone from search results.

Update: According to the CM blog post, Google as much as admitted the app wasn't violating the letter of the law, but was still going to be removed. The developer agreement specifically gives Google broad authority to remove material from Google Play "at its sole discretion." The document uses the phrase several times in section 7.2 to make the point. This section also refers to Google's agreements with carriers and OEMs superseding those made with developers. That may be part of the issue as well.

Update 2: Koushik Dutta has just linked to the newly released source code for the app on Google+, but as he points out, it's nothing groundbreaking.

Update, the third: CM updated their blog post to remove the assertion that Google told the team that the app was not technically in violation of the TOS. The post says that was a "mischaracterization of Google’s statement."

[CyanogenMod Blog]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • thajack

    Wow. I wonder if installing software on your computer voids the computer's warranty, too?

    • Fabian Pineda

      If you install Ubuntu on an HP Computer, you won't get support from HP, so that's that.

      • Wesley Modderkolk

        And to add something to it; neither would unsupported Windows versions.

      • ins0mn1a

        but nobody is talking about support for software, of course if you install the new OS it will not be supported. but what about hardware? i am pretty sure that if a hardware component dies on my linux computer while it's still under warrantly, i could get it fixed.

        • Fabian Pineda

          I just saw this because I thought this had died and it may be useless, but let me give you some insight: you're wrong.

          When I say support I don't mean just calling for some software issue. If you call HP Support, or Dell (which I have worked for in the past but I don't loosely include in conversations because they sell some Ubuntu laptops) and you have a hardware problem that is not so evident and can be tested like RAM, battery or CPU Clocking and they ask you to begin a remote session and you're like "oh but I use Ubuntu X" they will immediatly respond that in order to receive on warranty service, the PC must be in Windows. Only in cases where the hardware is responding in such way that OS becomes irrelevant, the specific component that is diagnosed may be replaced and those cases only happen within the no power/no post/ no video scope.

          The EULA, explicitly says that if should you need warranty service, the computer must integrally be as the OEM shipped it.

          Extrapolate this into this whole Cyanogenmod, err I mean Cyanogen Inc. installer into this panorama. You can do whatever the hell you want to with it, and it doesn't exactly voids your warranty but it leaves you without support because the integrity of software is not what the OEM delivered out of the box.

    • Samuel Hart

      If you were to remove your bootloader and put something else only.... yes. Installing the app wouldn't void your warranty, USING it would.

      • qr

        In many countries, all phones have unlocked bootloaders.

  • Fabian Pineda

    So Google took down an app that helped users install a non-Google-approved version of Android with functionality that users could've misunderstood? Evil Google, evil.

    • WalkinOnBottles

      Yet countless fake apps, apps that demand a whole slew of permissions, etc. all remain on the store. I don't think the decision was "for the sake of public's safety".

      • Fabian Pineda

        Yeah, those bastards at Google don't think that screwing up your phone from a fake app that can be fixed with factory reset is the same as bricking your phone by failing to install a ROM. Stupid, evil Google.

        • WalkinOnBottles

          Again, you're trying to justify their decision for no good reason. Google doesn't need a fanboy army.

          There's a million reasons why the app could have been taken down, let's not jump to conclusions like Google was doing this just so the public is safe, because if that was the case they would clean up the app store entirely.

          EDIT; According to the update in the post your justification is even more unwarranted as Google wasn't claiming it was breaking the 'letter of the law'.

          • Fabian Pineda

            Oh you're totally right, these Scroogle people are just being meanies all the way. Google should focus on more security layers for their OS than one simple app that could screw phones entirely.

          • med1vg

            You're such a dork, twisting his words to make him look stupid. I agree with him, and I don't agree with you. I think that Google really doesn't care about other shittier apps that violate their terms, but here they've deleted it just in spite.

            Google really doesn't need a defender here.

          • Fabian Pineda

            I don't think I'm twsting anyone's words. It's pretty clear that he believes this is a chaotic and anticlimatic decision for which we should march with pitchforks and torches (or going to change.org, which is the internet equivalent), and that's fine. But look at the big picture here.

            I'm getting called a fanboy for Google because I agree with this decision, so what does that make him (and you).

          • Guest

            You Are either a fucking bastard Micro$oft's paid Troll or Some Googler Scroogled your sister ,LOL . otherwise there is no logical reason for that much Google Hatred, So Go Suck Steve Ballmer's Dick. And Guys Dont Feed This Troll @fabian_pineda:disqus. let him post his idiotic comment and ignore him

          • Fabian Pineda

            Actually, I'm very much on Google's side, so to speak. I'm just hating Google to caracterize and mock Google haters.

    • Anthony James

      This section also refers to Google's agreements with carriers and OEMs superseding those made with developers.

  • hyperbolic

    There must be some other way (out of here) said the joker to the thief.

    • Fabian Pineda

      There's too much confusion (to allow it in the Play Store)

      • navjot

        Exactly. Remember all the people on reddit complaining about how they couldn't figure out how to go back to stock after trying this?

        • hyperbolic

          Exactly, CM is trying to give the masses a custom ROM that the masses have absolute no idea what a custom ROM is.

          I really like the direction CM is going with this app for the daily user but the daily user have no idea what he is even doing. This is why Google banned it and this is why CM should focus on devices that come with CM out of the box like Oppo. This is a direction that would lift the company imo.

        • Anthony James

          That may be part of the issue as well.

    • Thomas Cai Jinzhan

      There's so much confusion, i can get no relief...

    • squiddy20

      Ahhhh! I love this song! Ever since I heard it first on BSG, I bought it and the other versions (by Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix). Anyone know of any other good versions/covers?

  • ProductFRED

    I agree with this; a lot of noobs (yes, I went there) will come across the app and Google it and go, "OMG I WANNA JAILBREAK MY PHONE!!!!" and then brick their device. If you don't know how to sideload an app, you shouldn't be attempting to install a custom ROM on your device.

    You don't know how many times my friends look at my phone and go, "HOW DID YOU DO THAT?!". Then they get mad when I say I won't root/custom ROM their device, because I refuse to be the go-to tech guy for yet another computer-illterate person.

    • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack

      AOKP And Paranoid Android are still way much better Than CM

      • ProductFRED

        The point seems to have gone over your head.

      • Guest


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      • squiddy20

        Please, by all means, show us all where he even mentioned anything about CM, AOKP, PA, etc. in his entire post. smh

      • Eh

        Clearly they arent "way much better". If they were, morons like yourself would let the ROMs do the talking and not bother us with your brain farts.

      • Nomaan

        Then why not pacman?

    • Puff Puff

      CM Installer will also (havent yet) be used by non-noobs, who are lazy, and get high a lot. Some of you lads seem to be under the impression that entering some weird commands into cmd is a major skill to be proud of and makes you better than normal people who take the easiest way out.

      And the reason they removed it, even though it didnt violate the ToS, is because Google doesnt want an app on the Play Store that lets you get out of Google's version of Android. People bricking their phones is the last thing about Android that bothers Google.

      • SetiroN

        Sure, CM totally isn't "Google's version of Android", Sense and Touchwize are.

    • RajivSK

      Nicely put, I completely agree. The CM installer should NOT be targeted at people who are not comfortable with doing it the old fashion way. I attempted to install CM with their installer and got a bootloop on my first try. Completely screwed up my recovery as well. Ended up having to flash a new recovery before I could restore my last backup. CM probably means well, or I'll at least give them the benefit of the doubt for now but they're just not there yet.

      • MrWareWolf

        yep, me too.. bootloop.. on my new SG3 ...
        I use cm on my tablets (a500, nexus 7 2012) & it works pretty well there..

  • adi19956

    If it has a warning telling users that they're voiding warranties and should proceed on their own head, and that it could break their device, then how is it encouraging? I never used it so I don't know if it did have a warning, but most root apps do.

  • http://www.geordienorman.com/ George Byers

    ugh This was not at the request of Google at all... my bets are on Samsung. either way this is Google abusing their monopoly on the smartphone market. I should have the right to install whatever OS I want on my device, software should not void a warranty -_-

    • DrewNusser

      This has nothing to do with abusing a monopoly - last I checked, CM is still Android. It's just that there have been a bunch of half-wits messing up their phones. Plus, you think MS and Apple would allow an app to install a 3rd party version of their operating systems in their stores?

    • Gabernasher

      So you're saying overclocking and burning out my processor shouldn't void the warranty?

    • blumpkinator

      if your smart enough to manage installing the OS then you're smart enough to revert the software before making a warranty claim for a HARDWARE defect.

      The reason it voids the warranty is because N00bs with no clue how a computer even works will do something stupid when flashing a rom and then try to warranty their phone because "it doesn't work right" or "it doesn't boot".

      One click rom installers, root toolboxes etc are all handy tools when wielded by a seasoned pro but are dangerous in the hands of people who do not understand the mechanisms by which it works.

      • ins0mn1a

        except quite a few hardware defects will leave your device effectively bricked, so there is no way to revert it. all is well if it's a camera or a speaker defect, but how do you revert the software if the dead component is cpu, or gpu, RAM memory, screen, etc.

      • http://www.geordienorman.com/ George Byers

        I know normal people who hate there android device because of all the crap OEM's put on it. When they see my nexus, they wish there phone were like mine software wise. So I still think there is a market for this kind of one click installer, just needs to be more idiot proof.

  • Krzysztof Bryk

    to hell with that crap, and don't come back

    • med1vg

      How come?

  • Mo3tasm

    We should saw that coming, Google is becoming more like Apple, though i hope not.. Also users must read End User License Agreements instead of just clicking "I Agree" and destroy their devices...

  • ishaans

    they are jealous that Cyanogenmod is doing a better job than them.

  • Samuel Hart

    I can understand their position here. Root only apps don't give you a way TO root, and although a lot of root methods are getting easier and easier they require some scary stuff that puts off most technophobes. This app just lets you one-click it, and many MANY users will screw up their devices because of it.

    • moelsen8

      this just shows them where the setting for USB debugging is if I understand correctly. far from anything crazy.

      • Samuel Hart

        Really? From what I'd gathered you were required to turn on USB debugging (which it would explain), and then the app + desktop client both needed to do THINGS to make it actually work.

        • SetiroN

          the app only guides you through enabling usb debugging, it's the desktop app that does everything else, not without warnings.

    • MyLeftNut

      Yeah, I'm not backing Google on this decision but I'm not entirely with AP either, I don't see how this is comparable to having root only apps on the play store. Root apps only work IF you already have a rooted device to begin with. So that's a moot point.

  • MichaelOberhausen

    I don't understand what's the big deal... The people that "know" how to use the app will be able to download the apk directly. The CM team can put an automatic check for updates and there you go. People who know what they're doing will be able to use this app and people who have no clue about CM won't even know about this app.

    • Wesley Modderkolk

      People that know what they are doing don't really need the app in the first place.

      • MichaelOberhausen

        Exactly! I still prefer to download the zip file and flash it in recovery. And i have to work around their current website because they keep sending me to the Play Store

    • squiddy20

      Hypothetically, you hear from a friend that they installed something called Cyanogenmod on their phone using an app. You think it's cool so you too download the app, run it, and you've now got CM on your device, all (more than likely) without ever having any idea what a .zip, ROM, kernel, .apk, etc. is. And those are just basic terms. Now imagine something goes wrong. Who do you go to? Where do you go for help? Your warranty is now effectively voided, so you can't take it in to a carrier store. Some people aren't even smart enough to think to do a simple Google search, especially when their $500+ phone is "broken" and they are panicking. This is for the better (at least for now).

    • MyLeftNut

      I have a lot of friends new to android asking about downloading "themes" from the Play store that aren't working and wondering how to enable them. These are themes made specifically for people custom ROMS. They think it's the same as Go Launcher themes. App discovery isn't that specific and people find and download a lot of stuff that isn't directed at them. Just like people who downvote a root app because it doesn't work the way it's supposed to but then reply "What's root?" when you try to help them troubleshoot.

      Just as a test I showed this to one of the same friends that was asking me about themes and she automatically assumed it was just another launcher. I love my friends but people don't always read everything when it comes to phones. They're not stupid but not everyone cares about being tech savvy. I can see a lot people just following the steps without really knowing what they're doing.

  • Cory Wilson

    Don't be evil

    • James

      That ship sailed a long time ago. It'll take the Google fanbois a few more years to see it though.

    • http://www.emuparadise.me/roms-isos-games.php rarely online

      What is so evil about what they done, it is google's store they can do whatever they want with it such as the time they remove ad blocking.

  • Purdy

    I used the app on my S3 and it went perfectly... I was aware of the risks and it was up to me to download the app... Glad I did I love CyanogenMod

  • http://www.emuparadise.me/roms-isos-games.php rarely online

    Who cares. Its google's store they can do whatever they want with it.

    • SetiroN

      Yeah, no. Regardless of the issue at hand, whatever company that does whatever it wants with their services without warning and without following common logic and reason can go fuck itself.

      • http://www.emuparadise.me/roms-isos-games.php rarely online

        Its google's store so they can remove whatever they fucking want regardless of what people think and say. People hated google removing ad blockers but they did anyway so why should this be any different?

        Those who would root would already know where to look outside the play store to find a way to root their device, it makes little to no difference.

  • Anthony James

    The document uses the phrase several times in section 7.2 to make the point.

  • David Anderton

    hate to say it but I told you so :(

  • alamarco

    I believe Google is only protecting themselves from future grief.

    The way I think of it is if it's in the Play Store it becomes easily accessible to the masses. When people without knowledge of unlocking, rooting, etc. start using this installer they will inevitability start screwing up their devices. When this happens, Google doesn't want any liability. By removing the installer from the Play Store Google are essentially distancing themselves from the product.

    Google isn't blocking the installer. For those interested in the installer you can still download it. Google is just preventing the random stumble inside of the Play Store.

  • Ravo

    Apart from the political reasons for this, CM was stupid to not put a disclaimer on their software download page, something like "Warning: This may void your warranty or brick your device". Think of all the people who had issues and probably complained to Google.

  • woj_tek

    heh... google takes down app that actually doesn't change much on your phone (most things are done by the desktop app) yet leaves all rom manages and other tools that can break your phone - again double standard by big-G, yet all the sheeplings here praise google's move...

    let the bashing begin!

  • Dissidence

    Honestly, this move could just be taken as an "idiot check"...

    "Do you know how to sideload an apk file? If not, you probably shouldn't be doing what you're about to..."

  • TheLastAngel

    Android is open... no more :-(

  • bL4Ck

    This doesn't surprise me, specially because this app was advertised all around the web. Obviously the app per itself doesn't break any rules, but it still encouraged people in voiding their warranty with a step to step guide on how to do it, this is clearly unacceptable for Google and his phone/carrier partners.

  • Android Developer

    What if they add a warning that this could void your warranty ?
    And how could other apps be allowed (like RomManager and others) to be in the play store ?

    I'm also not sure that all manufacturers and carriers would void your warranty for putting a different ROM , since you can always revert to the stock ROM ...

    • John Malin

      Other root apps are allowed in the store because they don't void your warranty/are specifically used to void your warranty. You must have already rooted to use them.

      They are allowed because there are plenty of devices that either do not have a warranty, are out of the warranty period, or the carrier/OEM gave you the option to void it (like HTC's dev portal).

  • oneoneone
  • marycontrary

    "Apparently it's harder to go legit THAN we thought." - correction required.