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Cyanogen Wants to Wrestle Android From Google’s Control

by Jacob Kleinman | January 26, 2015January 26, 2015 2:00 pm PDT

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Cyanogen may be one of the most popular Android ROMs around, but can the company actually take on Google for control of its own operating system? That’s the plan, at least according to Cyanogen Inc. CEO Kirt McMaster.

“We’re attempting to take Android away from Google,” he said at The Information’s “Next Phase of Android” conference last week.  McMaster went on to explain Cyanogen’s plans for the future of Android, arguing that despite claims of offering an open platform, Google exerts tight control over the operating system. Cyanogen wants to offer a version of Android that’s completely free of developer restrictions.

One key issue is how deeply a third-party service can integrate itself into Android. For example, Google’s own Google Now is great because it runs at the core of the operating system. A competing app like Yahoo’s Aviate launcher can’t offer that sort of tight integration. At least not yet.

Cyanogen hopes to partner with companies like Yahoo, offering total access to its Android-based OS. But getting to that point could take a while. “Today, Cyanogen has some dependence on Google,” McMaster said. “Tomorrow, it will not. We will not be based on some derivative of Google in three to five years.”

Of course, taking on Google like that would mean giving up access to services like Google Play, Maps and Gmail. That seems to be the path Cyanogen is already headed down, and the company plans to launch its own app store within the next 18 months as a sort of pre-emptive strike.

That’s just the start of what could be a long battle with Google over the future of Android. We’re not so sure it’s a battle Cyanogen can win, but we’re excited to see what happens next.


Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...

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