The Galaxy S4 will hit various markets starting with late April, but it looks like we have some bad news for those of you looking forward to buy the smartphone and customize it with appropriate CyanogenMod ROMs.
One developer part of the “Hacksung” team took to xda-developers Forums a few days ago to address development for the Galaxy S4. Here’s what XpLoDWilD said:
Nobody at team hacksung (the team behind galaxy s2, note, s3, note2, gtabs… official CM ports) plans to buy it, neither develop for it. There are two variants which will be a pain to maintain, the bugs we have on the s3 will probably be there on s4 too (camera), and we all know Samsung ability to release sources while staying in line with mainline. Yes qualcomm release sources, but exynos sources we had were far from actual galaxy products. I'm pretty sure the same will happen for this one.
That's a uniform “no” from us.
You’d say that we’re talking about one developer's view only, even if he does seem to speak in the team's name, – and things could definitely change in the future – but when digging for more information it didn’t take us too long to find out that other important CM devs including Codeworks, Entropy512 and Gokhan Moral are more or less in agreement with XpLoDWilD when it comes to developing for Samsung devices.
Another xda-developers thread dated March 16 is titled “codeworkx will no longer make CM for the S4,” and was published a day before XpLoDWilD released his statement. One user wrote:
Generally there were 3 developers who maintained samsung devices
2. Entropy512 and
Of them the first 2 have vowed to never waste their time on exynos
Xplodwild is still there but how much time he will have I have no idea..
It will be very difficult to get competent and experienced developers so quickly ..
So initially S4 will definitely be behind in AOSP development IMO
Finally, Gokhan Moral wrote on his personal blog on March 15:
I am pretty busy lately and I haven’t visited xda-developers forum for some time. there were 17 unread PMs and several hundred posts last time I checked. I will not be back before April. I still have an s2 and xperia-t to play with and I am no way getting another Samsung any time soon (especially not S4).
A November 2012 Google+ series of posts by Andrew Dodd (Entropy 512) are also available here. In them, the developer expresses his unpleasant experiences with developing for Samsung devices. At the time, he clearly expressed the fact that his views on Samsung development are his own and they don’t represent an official statement from the team.
While the Galaxy S4 is not specifically mentioned in that post – back then we only had sporadic rumors detailing the fourth-gen Galaxy S model – it’s clear from the length of that series of posts and his tone of voice that developing for Galaxy devices is harder and sometimes annoying. Here are some of his words from a November 28 lengthy update that best describe his frustration:
So, after all that has happened – I am mentally exhausted and pretty much burned out. Since BABBQ I've barely had the motivation to touch my CM source trees, because I've gotten tired of constantly bashing my head against the devices I own to make them more attractive to a given subset of users, when the manufacturer of said devices has done almost nothing to help answer technical questions or solve other issues. [...]
I'm a volunteer. I do this in my spare time, and receive very little financial compensation (XDA donations are a pittance, and honestly, I don't care. I do this because some of the work I do keeps my mind sharp and until I started getting heavily involved with Samsung devices, it was work I could take pride in.) At this point, I no longer enjoy the work I'm doing, and it's gotten to the point where the distraction of all this bullshit is starting to impact my ability to concentrate properly at my day job, which is absolutely unacceptable. A major change is needed or I'm going to totally burn out and lose what little passion I have for what I've been doing the past year.
What does that mean for Galaxy S4 buyers? For most of them, absolutely nothing. But for those Android hardcore users that love to run custom OS versions on their devices, it may mean that custom CM ROMs may not be available for the Galaxy S4 initially, or even later down the road.
Naturally, things may change in the coming months, and Samsung should be interested in what developers have to say about its hardware and software, no matter how much it would prefer to have all Galaxy product buyers use the devices as they are out-of-the-box. After all, there could be plenty of users out there that actually love to run CM instead of the default OS, and considering Samsung's share of the Android market, plenty of them must be running CM on Galaxy products.
What kind of OS will you be running on the Galaxy S4, stock Samsung firmware or custom ROM?
Update: The CyanogenMod team clarified the situation on its account on Google Plus:
Setting Device Expectations
Let’s start with the simplest form of this: CyanogenMod does not pre-announce support or lack of support for devices. Ever. Even for the Nexus 4, we did not announce support until a nightly build was available. Further, any announcement regarding the ‘dropping’ of device support will be communicated via this Google+ page, Twitter, Facebook, our blog, or a combination of those; it will not be something buried in a forum post.
This morning, a comment from a CM collaborator on XDA was taken to be as an ‘absolute’ in regards to support of the S4. He offered the opinion of four TeamHacksung maintainers, their frustrations and lack of interest in supporting the S4. What’s seemingly lost on those reading this is that his comments as an individual do not speak for CyanogenMod as an organization.
As for the team’s stance on the S4, there isn’t one at this time, and most definitely won’t be one before the device is sold at retail.
-The CyanogenMod Team