If you’ve used an Android device, you’ve likely heard of CyanogenMod. The adaptable custom ROM is a third-party firmware distribution for Android devices. It’s open source, and claims performance enhancements over standard Android ROMs. Its dedicated community has led to widespread adoption.
Now Cyanogen Inc. is offering Cyanogen MOD, which confusingly mimics the name of the aforementioned Cyanogen custom ROM. MOD rather is an entire platform on the Cyanogen OS. Cyanogen MOD boasts a slew of built-in integrations called Mods, including Truecaller, Skype, Cortana, OneNote, and social screen lock. Rather than apps, these Mods are integrated right into the OS. Cyanogen touts these Mods as a foray into the so-called “post-app era.”
“Our partnership with Cyanogen is part of our ambition to provide great digital experiences to customers across all of their devices, in all aspects of their lives...MOD reinvents productivity for Android users by giving them access to the power of Microsoft’s services in an engaging and modern way.” -- Peggy Johnson, Executive Vice President of Business Development at Microsoft
These Mods are described as "intelligent, aware, and lightweight experiences built directly into the OS." For instance, Skype integrates into the native dialer of a mobile device, as does Truecaller. Hyperlaps integrates into the native camera app. The entire premise is for Cyanogen Mod to be a platform allowing a more full integration into the OS. According to the Cyanogen MOD website, these Mods will debut in March, 2016 on devices running Cyanogen OS 13.0 and higher. A Feb. 22 press release on the Cyanogen website explained that Mods have comprehensive access to the device OS, unlike apps which are limited by their integration functionality. These apps now use APIs to offer increased functionality in the Cyanogen OS.
The Cyanogen OS itself aims at Android users seeking more customization, and claims enhanced security and privacy. Notably, this is a major departure from Google’s Android ecosystem. Cyanogen is even partnering with Microsoft, as evidenced by a Cortana integration. Coupled with Microsoft’s Feb. 2016 acquisition of Xamarin, it’s clear that Microsoft has opted to focus on the mobile space. Potentially, this Cyanogen partnership could signal a future move away from Windows mobile, and instead a concentration on Microsoft integrations with Android, albeit a Google-less Android. In an April 16, 2015 press release, Mircosoft and Cyanogen revealed a strategic partnership, and now that collaboration is begining to take shape.
Initially, Mods will be exclusive to MOD Ready devices, which Cyanogen is advertising to OEMs and MNOs. The MOD Ready page goes into further detail. Check out the official Cyanogen MOD website for more info. Android Police’s Rita El Khoury also has a great analysis of Cyanogen MOD that’s worth checking out.