Cyanogen Inc. recently experienced a round of layoffs as the company struggled to make its customized build of Android into a viable business. Through all the turmoil, Cyanogen Inc. CEO Kirt McMaster has contended that CyanogenMod (the non-commercial side) has tens of millions of users. Now, some are expressing doubt as to the accuracy of such figures. For a company fueled by venture money, that could be a problem.
CyanogenMod founder and Cyanogen Inc. cofounder Steve Kondik has published a blog post on the official CyanogenMod blog today. That is the blog associated with the community project, not Cyanogen Inc. Kondik's post appears to serve dual purposes: to ensure the community that CyanogenMod isn't going anywhere (and no one suggested it was), and that the company's alleged "pivot to apps" isn't happening.
After Friday's layoffs, the post makes sense. There's no reason to believe that the reduction of staff at Cyanogen Inc responsible for the maintenance of the open source CyanogenMod project means the community-driven effort is in danger.
We're hearing from multiple sources that Cyanogen Inc. is in the midst of laying off a significant portion of its workforce around the world today. The layoffs most heavily impact the open source arm of the Android ROM-gone-startup, which may be eliminated entirely (not CyanogenMod itself, just the people at Cyanogen Inc.
Back in February, Cyanogen Inc. announced the MOD platform, a way for developers to customise the Cyanogen OS experience with deeper-level integration into the framework of the operating system. The update to Cyanogen OS 13.1 - with MOD support included - is now rolling out to the OnePlus One.
Currently, Twitter, Skype, OneNote, Cortana, and Microsoft Hyperlapse hook into the platform and provide features integrated into Cyanogen. Twitter shows trending tweets on your lockscreen; Skype integrates VOIP into the dialer app, along with Skype contacts clearly marked in the phone's contacts app; OneNote integrates with the email and phone apps to enable you to take notes anywhere in the OS; the already-existing Cortana mod takes things further, allowing users to 'take a selfie' hands-free, while also expanding to the lockscreen; and Microsoft Hyperlapse means time lapse videos can be created easily in the camera app, or videos edited in the Gallery app.
Cyanogen Inc is rolling out Cyanogen OS 12.1.1 for the OnePlus One today, and it's not just any update. This is the first version of Cyanogen OS with support for Microsoft Cortana baked right in. After Microsoft finally made Cortana official for other phones, then removed the always listening feature, the OnePlus One is rather unique.
The partnership between Cyanogen Inc and Micromax subsidiary YU has given birth to another smartphone for the Indian market. Unlike past collaborations, this one is undeniably a flagship device. The Yutopia has all the bells and whistles and will retail for INR 24,999, which works out to roughly $377.
Back in the early Gingerbread days, CyanogenMod provided geeks and tinkerers with a way of installing the most up-to-date Android version on virtually any device. It wasn't for everyone, but if you were willing to deal with a few bugs and instability issues, you could easily turn your phone into a quasi-Nexus device running stock-ish Android. Updates are a little slower now that commercial entity Cyanogen Inc. is supporting devices, but two of those phones — the Yureka and Yureka Plus — are being updated to Cyanogen OS 12.1, which is based on Android Lollipop 5.1.
Cyanogen Inc. blew up its partnership with OnePlus last year in order to pursue an exclusive partnership with Micromax under its YU brand in India. YU has released a few devices running Cyanogen OS since then, but the internet had a touch of schadenfreude a few days ago when YU dropped Cyanogen from its Yuphoria phone. However, Cyanogen says everything is still cool.
Cyanogen Inc. has forged an alliance with Playphone to bring its exciting bloatware social game store to Cyanogen OS in multiple international markets. It's not clear when or where the Playphone store will be bundled with Cyanogen OS phones, but it should start happening before long. I'm sure no one will be annoyed by this.
OnePlus' breakup with Cyanogen Inc. was neither amicable nor expected, which seems to have left OnePlus in a bit of a bind. The company has managed to get its Lollipop-based OxygenOS ROM out the door for OnePlus One owners, but those hoping for a quick update to Android 5.1 will be disappointed. That's not happening until after the OnePlus 2 is released. The new Cyanogen OS is coming soon, though.