Cyanogen Aspires to Become Open-Source Android Alternative to Google

Cyanogen Aspires to Become Open-Source Android Alternative to Google
It's the Real Open Android
This Is Android We're Talking About
Hardware Makers Are Free to Customize Cyanogen OS
User Customization Plays a Role
Cyanogen Boasts of Better Performance
There's Full Support for Dual SIM
Cyanogen OS Includes Enhanced Security Features
Cyanogen Delivers a Lean OS Without Bloatware
So Far Few Device Makers Support Cyanogen OS
Cyanogen Wants to Be the 'Third Mobile OS'
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Cyanogen Aspires to Become Open-Source Android Alternative to Google

By Don Reisinger

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It's the Real Open Android

Cyanogen's pitch to the market is that if offers a truly open Android. The company argues that its operating system is fully customizable for all users, developers and hardware makers. This gives all stakeholders the opportunity to tailor the Cyanogen OS interface and components to suit their particular needs. The open-source community loves Cyanogen, but whether the general public will care that there's a difference is unknown at this point.

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This Is Android We're Talking About

Let's make something abundantly clear: Cyanogen is Android. The only other Android version on the market is the one that's developed by Google and bundled with devices around the world. Cyanogen is actually a complete open-source Android edition that is modified in ways the Cyanogen team sees fit. Cyanogen is then released to the community to modify the platform as needed. Google's Android is technically open source but is closed in the sense that Google requires device makers to use its own services, which cannot be removed. That's why companies like Samsung, HTC and Amazon put their own operating system skins on top of Google's Android rather than release their own unique Android operating system.

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Hardware Makers Are Free to Customize Cyanogen OS

Hardware vendors that adopt the Cyanogen OS will have the right to customize the operating system however they see fit. This will enable hardware makers—whether they are in the U.S., China or Japan—to add or remove features and functionality to suit special market needs around the world.

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User Customization Plays a Role

Cyanogen is quick to tout its operating system as being as "unique as you are." What that means is that users can customize the operating system to change its look and feel, adjust how controls are arranged in the software and more. Cyanogen provides all the code in Android to vendors, who then customize it, bundle it with their hardware and then pass it on to users, who are free to modify it yet again how they see fit. It's a different model entirely compared with Google Android.

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Cyanogen Boasts of Better Performance

Cyanogen claims that it has the best-performing operating system on the market. The company has tweaked the Android code to improve battery life on all devices and has unlocked certain audio features to allow users to adjust the sound quality produced by a particular device. Cyanogen also says vendors can tweak its operating system to get the best performance from internal components.

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There's Full Support for Dual SIM

Dual SIM support could be one of the most appealing aspects of Cyanogen-based devices. Customers can have two SIMs in a single device, allowing them to have their personal phone service on one account and corporate service on another. The feature is designed for the enterprise, of course, and it's something to keep in mind when evaluating the platform.

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Cyanogen OS Includes Enhanced Security Features

Security is a major selling point for Cyanogen. The operating system includes a "Privacy Guard" feature for users to decide what data can be shared within apps, as well as a Protected Apps feature that lets users decide which apps can be accessed easily and which should be protected behind a security wall. A Blacklist feature allows users to permanently block a number from calling or texting.

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Cyanogen Delivers a Lean OS Without Bloatware

Bloatware—applications and utility software that device makers frequently bundle with an operating system—is scarce in Cyanogen. While there is, of course, a browser, an email program and a few other essential applications, Cyanogen OS device makers aren't loading up their products with a lot of extra software that might have little value to users. Cyanogen keeps the operating system as lightweight and free from bloatware as possible. It will be up to device makers to resist the temptation to add a lot of extraneous software.

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So Far Few Device Makers Support Cyanogen OS

Looking for a Cyanogen device? It's a little difficult to find one. According to the Cyanogen Website, there are currently three smartphones running the operating system: the Alcatel OneTouch Hero 2+, the Yureka by YU and the OnePlus One by OnePlus. The $80 million cash infusion Cyanogen recently received could help the company attract more hardware vendors, which it certainly must do if Cyanogen is going to grow in the mobile industry.

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Cyanogen Wants to Be the 'Third Mobile OS'

So, what is the ultimate goal for Cyanogen? The company says it wants to be the "third mobile operating system." Indeed, some of the company's investors, including venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, have said the same thing. So, while Cyanogen isn't intended to be a Google Android killer, the company and its investors hope it will catch on as a significant alternative to Google's Android brand. We shall see.

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