Recent Update: According to this Android Authority update, the CyanogenMod CEO Kirt McMaster says that there is no plan of moving away from the core business of CyanogenMod and that is creating a viable, free, alternative to Android. The laying off is simply a harsh reality of the start-up world. It has got nothing to do with CyanogenMod no longer being an alternative to the stock Android OS.
There was a time when whoever wanted a different flavour of the Android operating system on their smartphones, they were downloading and installing CyanogenMod – a mobile operating system based on Android but totally different feel. Due to the recent layoffs, as reported in this Ars Technica report, you may no longer be able to use CyanogenMod on your smartphone, as a good alternative to the stock Android OS. Interestingly, most of the layoffs have happened in the OS department and according to the official statement, the company is going to focus more on creating apps rather than the operating system itself.
If you are wondering what is CyanogenMod, it is a somewhat different flavour of the Android operating system that you have on your smartphone. Not everybody likes the stock version. There is little control over what sort of apps you can run and how your operating system or your interface looks. Another problem with the stock Android operating system that comes with many devices is that there is lots of bloatware – unwanted apps that you are never going to use and unfortunately, you cannot uninstall on your own.
People who want more control over their devices normally install this alternative to the stock Android OS. Obviously it requires some work and you need to “root” your device. “Rooting” your device means accessing your device in such a manner that you completely control its software configurations, including its operating system – this access is not available if you haven’t rooted your phone.
For a long time CyanogenMod was available just as an alternative to the stock Android OS but later on the company also partnered with OnePlus and it started shipping as the default operating system for this range of mobile phones. A couple of more companies started installing CyanogenMod on their devices. But little on most of the deals fell through and the troubled times started for the CyanogenMod team.
I too once installed a particular version of CyanogenMod on one of my Samsung tablets and I must confess, the experience wasn’t very good. It was like an old, rickety operating system – most of my pre-existing apps won’t work. Anyway, I’m not an expert so I don’t even know whether I had installed CyanogenMod on my tablet properly or not. But whenever someone asks me on Twitter whether he or she should install another ROM after rooting the phone, I advise that person that do it at your own risk and if you have lots of time at your hand and if you can afford to have an inactive phone for a few days. Again, it depends on your expertise.
So if CyanogenMod is laying off staff that was working on the OS side, does it mean that Cyanogen Mod will no longer be available as an alternative to the stock Android OS? Remains to be seen. But you shouldn’t worry much, there are better versions of Android available these days if you have enough time to look around.