The Way Forward [CYANOGATE ’09]

NoCyanogen When I heard about the cease-and-desist order Google sent to Cyanogen, my initial thought was to take a wait-and-see attitude, assuming that something would be worked out. But I’ll admit, seeing what Cyanogen himself had to say had me pretty pessimistic about the future of custom ROMs. I should have stuck with my initial thought. 

First, A ray of hope snuck into his Twitter feed. Today, Cyanogen outlined the way forward in a longer piece on his site:

There are lots of things we can do as end-users and modders, though, without violating anyones rights. Most importantly, we are entitled to back up our software. Since I don’t work with any of these closed source applications directly, what I intend to do is simply ship the next version of CyanogenMod as a “bare bones” ROM. You’ll be able to make calls, MMS, take photos, etc. In order to get our beloved Google sync and applications back, you’ll need to make a backup first. I’m working on an application that will do this for you.

The idea is that you’ll be able to Google-ify your CyanogenMod installation, with the applications and files that shipped on YOUR device already. Or, you can just use the basic ROM if you want. It will be perfectly functional if you don’t use the Google parts.

I originally speculated that one possible solution would be that “his ROMS won’t include those core apps, but there will be some place else to get them.” It didn’t occur to me– we already have them on our phones,  so if they’re backed up, we don’t need anywhere else to get them.

One last thing: if you found yourself freaked out by the prospect of no-more-CyanogenMod, but have never dropped something in his tip jar, please consider doing so to support all the great work he does. There’s a PayPal widget right below his Twitter posts on the right side of his site.

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  • justin


  • Unk

    I made a script that makes an with all the Google Apps and you can flash it on an AOSP build.

  • Bruce

    I think it's important to take note of where the carriers are in this. When you buy an Android phone from a carrier, you cannot modify the system software on the phone. The carrier can modify the system software, but you cannot.

    This whole rooting and ROMing phenomena is to get around the restrictions placed on the phone by the carrier. They have your root password, and you do not. In order to get permission to modify the system software on your phone, you must completely replace the system software.

    If people had permission to modify the existing Android software on the phone then Cyanogen could make installers that would not require erasing the apps that came with the phone, or the apps that people installed. Problem solved.

    I can buy a Netbook with a data plan from Verizon Wireless and ATT Wireless. I can modify the system software on the Netbook without wiping it and replacing it. The carriers allow this on Netbooks and not on Android phones. What if I buy a Netbook running Android from a carrier? Will I be able to modify the system software or not? It's all up to the carriers…

    • "When you buy an Android phone from a carrier"

      That's why you're source of choice would be the manufacturer.

      • bruce

        "That's why you're source of choice would be the manufacturer."

        Don't get me started! 🙂

        I just wanted to point out that carriers have a lot of power, and they can and do make modding difficult. They can probably make modding illegal if they want to by changing the EULA. It's amazing to me that T-Mobile actually has a section on modding the Android OS on their forum. That does give the scene some legitimacy

        Buying from a carrier is cheaper than anywhere else. Why? Because all of the carrier's subscribers chip in a little bit on the price of my new phone. If I don't buy a new phone from the carrier, I still have to chip in and pay for everybody else who buys a new phone from my carrier. Call it good business, call it economic blackmail, it definitely works. And it's bad for innovation. That's another rant, for another time…

  • fred

    totally agree with Bruce. Carriers can do whatever they want.
    Carriers are devil.
    Perhaps there is no law protecting the customer from modding the phone.
    If the customer spend money to buy a phone it has the right to do whatever he wants to the phone, but then loosing technical support from the carrier would be fair. I guess.

  • Stu

    Just read an article on [1] and realized that Samsung probably didn't get a license either (or didn't want to pay for it).

    [Samsung] drew a distinction between devices built on the Android platform and "Google Experience" devices, which not only use Android but are also Google-centric, packed with the search giant's own applications. "Our commitment is more to the Android phone than the Google Experience device,".


  • Neil

    Why don't Google want their apps distributed?

  • Pieter

    google makes a small profit by allowing carriers to purchase the "google experience" (all their apps come stock on their phone). now if they were to have those GE apps distributed freely, the carriers wont have to pay for the GE on their phone.
    so they basically just stepped in and took a blow before any of the carriers did.

    *thats kinda how i have it…correct me if im wrong

  • Neil

    Thanks Pieter.

    So Google give their apps away for free to end users who want to go and download them but charge companies who want to pre-install them onto a phone they are selling…
    I assume this applies to other mobile OSes as well as Android.

    If so why not just license them as such, the usual 'redistributable in binary form and for non-commercial use only'.
    HTC selling a phone would be 'commercial use', whereas free community-provided ROM mods are not.

    Or can you not even download Google Maps/Voice if you don't have a 'Google experience' device?