All the way back in 2013 (has it really been that long?), Steve Kondik and many other CyanogenMod contributors founded Cyanogen Inc. The company had two goals, to maintain the existing community-created CyanogenMod ROM, and to develop 'Cyanogen OS' for other manufacturers' devices. That business model could certainly have worked, but it didn't take long for the company to make costly mistakes.
British smartphone maker Wileyfox has been using Cyanogen OS since it launched its first phone a few years ago. Thus, the demise of Cyanogen Inc. is a big problem for the company. A report making the rounds on the internet claims that Wileyfox has upped its game by hiring former Cyanogen employees as in-house devs, including former Director of System Engineering Ricardo Cerqueira. This claim is based on some very weak evidence, so we've reached out to get the real story.
There aren't a ton of devices running the commercial Cyanogen OS ROM these days, but the Wileyfox Spark and Spark+ are two of the most prominent (which really tells you something). These UK phones launched with Cyanogen OS 12 (Lollipop) earlier this year, but now Cyanogen OS 13 is finally rolling out.
If a comment on a CyanogenMod commit thread by founder Steve Kondik is any indicator, rumors that Cyanogen Inc. is basically getting out of the OS development business seem to be coming to fruition. While the context of the comment is a rather specific commit thread, Kondik's frustration seems to have led to him to say a bit more about Cyanogen Inc.'s future plans than the company may have liked:
There isn't really going to be much if any involvement from the Inc this time around and I'm taking on a lot of stuff on my own to try and keep us moving forward.
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.
Wileyfox and Cyanogen formed a partnership last summer to deliver smartphones running Cyanogen OS to Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. The Wileyfox Swift was the second phone to get version 13 of the operating system. Now the Wileyfox Storm is getting that same update.
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.
Slowly but surely, Android offshoot-slash-alternative Cyanogen OS is gaining ground. The incorporated and semi-proprietary version of the CyanogenMod ROM now powers a handful of retail-available phones from companies like YU, Zuk, and Smartfen, though larger manufacturers like OnePlus and Oppo have seemingly cooled on Cyanogen software. Speaking of OnePlus, its One hardware was the first to get access to Cyanogen OS version 13, based on Android 6.0.1 code. Today the Swift from Wileyfox becomes the second.