Required reading: CyanogenMod team Q&A

There's some great stuff coming out of the CyanogenMod camp over the past week, and we're not talking about an alpha version of some phone long forgotten. No, this one comes in the form of a lengthy Q&A session that gives great insight into how the community project works.

You can guess where a lot of the questions lead -- "When will my device be supported?" ... "Why isn't my device supported?" ... "What devices are next?" ... and so on and so forth. But there's once answer that particularly stood out, because it's one we get asked a lot, too. In a nutshell, it's why can the CM team get updates of next-gen Android versions released for phones before carriers and manufacturers.

The answer:

  1. We aren’t trying to ‘beat’ anybody; such an idea leads to a lot of broken ROMs and potentially broken phones. That said, we do have fewer resources, but we also have less to upkeep. CyanogenMod is created as one large OS, a standardized image across all devices we support. The OEMs, for competition purposes, don’t do this – they need features that sell. Quite frankly, in some cases, it isn’t in their interest to update devices either. If they did, who would buy the next generation that comes out in 6-8 months time?
  2. “Continuity” for us is actually easier to maintain, if for nothing else than the points in response #1
  3. The carriers do take long to test, because they have to certify both the hardware and software aspects of the device, and go through a number of legal (FCC, for instance) and partner (operators and Google) certification stages before release. Devices that destroy their network towers or cause issues are no benefit to them. CyanogenMod gets the phones at the end of the chain – they have already proven to be network compliant, and we don’t have to worry about carrier requirements. We code our features to minimally alter the network connectivity as well. As for testing they have a Q&A division, with unknown (though likely not large amounts) of testers. We have nightlies that we utilize as our testing; so in our release cycles, there is actually a lot of time built in for testing.

The answer in and of itself is important, but we're equally happy to see the CM team remind us all that by far the bulk of the code in a CM release is written by someone other than the CyanogenMod team. Or, as they put it, "CyanogenMod gets the phones at the end of the chain – they have already proven to be network compliant, and we don’t have to worry about carrier requirements." There are a lot of hands that go into putting out any Android update. And not having to answer to carrier, manufacturer and governmental testing absolutely speeds the process.

The entire Q&A is a must-read and can be found here. More: +CyanogenMod

  • I feel enlightened.
  • Also, CM gets to put an "install at your own risk" disclaimer on their products. That lets them take feature and timeline risks that OEMs and carriers simply can't take for a variety of reasons.
  • Exactly right, and I wish they would have emphasized this point a bit more for the end users who don't really appreciate how important this aspect is. The CM ROM cookers are beholden to nobody. They don't offer warranties, they don't offer money back guarantees and they don't necessarily promise customer service/support. So if you flash their code and your phone breaks, or you flash their ROM and some critical features (like phone calls) no longer work properly, you are on your own to figure out how to either fix it yourself or flash back to an older backup. Whereas if the carriers release an OTA that bricks phones, they are obligated to offer some level of customer support. Therefore it's much more important that each software update is certified to certain standards. That said, I certainly am not being an apologist for carriers/manufacturers. They still take way too long to get out updates. But that is generally because they are more concerned with new phones, which make them money, while updates do not.
  • Cyanogenmod is probably the best thing for google to fix its fragmentation issue. Google should be throwing its weight towards Cyanogen and should be pushing other phone makers to help support them.
  • Google has no fragmentation issue.
  • this is still letting the carriers (american, in particular) (att, really in particular) off too easy for taking 6+ months to get updates out. The hardware and network compliance stuff makes sense for initial testing (although still, something like the delayed american gs2 launch is just crap) but for a software update to preexisting hardware, that would seem to also be closer to the end of the chain than the beginning, so it shouldnt take so long (although this of course circles back to question 1 and it not being in their interest to update devices, but that, of course, is bullshit, and the reason their excuses about needing to test are met with such skepticism in the first place)
  • Good read
  • Good read... Thanks for posting Phil
  • Nice I can't wait for cm9 ;)
  • Why would carriers rush when the community does the work for them. They probably take some of their work and use in their updates.
  • Android funs what we learn or what we think from the post?????
    My understanding is we have to back with Dev team. When they need testers we have to ready lol.
    finally Phill thanks for your post.
  • I have tried 15 different ROMs for three different Android devices and I always go back to CM. I bought a GSM GNex so that I could run CM9 sooner. I don't buy a phone unless I know for sure I can run CM on it. It doesn't matter if they are doing minimal coding or if their getting updates out isn't that impressive -- they make the best version of Android OS.
  • when the f@#$K is the t 989 gonna get ics. god im F;alsfkjsa;lkfjing dying for an alpha at least. never again am i buying a flagship with a different chipset. alwasy have to wait to be the last one cuz of the different chipset cuz it means a whole diffrent build. f###ck u tmobile
  • Awesome post! This is the kind of stories I like to hear, just the facts laid out. thx