Cyanogen’s relationship with OnePlus has been rocky at best, however that hasn’t stopped it from releasing new versions of Cyanogen OS for the handset. Back in April Cyanogen Inc released Cyanogen OS 13 which brought the Android 6.0 Marshmallow code base to the OnePlus One. Now the company has started rolling out Cyanogen OS 13.1 for the OnePlus One, and the big thing about version 13.1 is that it is MOD Ready.
The idea behind MOD Ready is that OEMs get to build “modules” for Cyanogen OS to differentiate their handsets in, as Cyanogen call it, “a market full of commoditized hardware and stock Android devices.” So offering Cyanogen OS, along with all its tweaks and benefits, rather than stock Android is one level, but offering Cyanogen OS with some custom, unique additions it a whole new level.
Cyanogen are calling it the “post-app era” because now smartphone makers have an easy path to include unqiue functionality beyond that of just changing the launcher and bundling a few apps. The idea is that while 3rd party apps are built on top of Android, MODS can dig deep into Cyanogen OS and allow OEMs to add extra OS level functionality. However like apps, users have control over which mods they want to install.
To this end Cyanogen has now released Cyanogen OS 13.1 for the OnePlus One with several important MODs available including the ability to view trending Tweets from the lock screen, place Skype calls from within the phone dialer rather than having to use a separate app, use Cortana from within the camera app to take a selfie, use OneNote from within the email and phone apps, and apply Microsoft’s Hyperlapse tech to videos.
You will have noticed that, with the exception of Twitter, all these MODs come from Microsoft. That is a whole different story for another day, but the point is that an OEM can now add their tech deep into a version of Android and get it shipped with a smartphone.
Will this be a winning strategy for Cyanogen Inc over the long term? Probably. However for OEMs to make a real impact then the number of Cyanogen OS devices is going to need to grow beyond just the OnePlus One and the handful of mainly Asian devices that it supports today.
One final thing, don’t confuse Cyanogenmod, the open source part of the Cyanogen family, with Cyanogen OS (with its MODs). The latter is a commercial version of Cyanogenmod that ships by default on a number of OEM phones including the OnePlus One (at least at the beginning anyway), the Swift and the Storm from Wileyfox, and a number of handsets from YU.