Cyanogen at Big Android BBQ Europe earlier this month detailed its plans for the next year. The company also revealed that the plans are centred around dirt-cheap phones priced at as low as $75 (approximately Rs. 5,000) and a flagship.
Co-Founder and CTO Steve Kondik at the side-lines of the event also talked about various other things including Marshmallow and upcoming chipsets among others. Speaking to Alex Dobie of Android Central, Kondik started off with early days of Android devices and how he thought that the HTC Dream could be hacked.
“The HTC Dream G1 wasn’t supposed to be hackable […] except they did something pretty stupid and left a root shell running behind the console,” he said. On being asked whether Android has picked up any features from CyanogenOS over the years, Kondik started off saying, “Oh my God, like everything.”
“The cool thing about CyanogenMod is that people would come out of nowhere with crazy features that nobody expected. Like somebody came out of nowhere with swipe-to-dismiss notifications years ago in CM. And now that’s a big UI thing, right? The “quiet hours” do-not-disturb mode. [Marshmallow] is like all of our features,” added Kondik.
Further talking about how Google has been doing lately, he added, “Some of Google’s stuff is really good. Some of it is just Ok. It all works together really nicely. They have good stuff. Is there opportunity for more stuff? Yeah! And it starts to get more interesting when you do have these kinds of extensible apps because even with something like Google Now, you can’t really do anything with Now, you can just give stuff to Now. They’re starting to do a little bit more [in Marshmallow].”
On Cyanogen’s growth over the years, Kondik started off stressing that he never thought it would be a hit in real world. He gave an example of someone telling him about their customised ROM being downloaded by few people at a local coffee shop. “I was in shock and awe right there, because I’m like, this is actually spilling over into the real world. I didn’t think that,” he said.
Speaking about next-generation high-end devices, Kondik gave example of “thin revenue margins” that forces OEM makers to rehash the old chipsets. He gave examples of Zuk Z1 and OnePlus X which still use Snapdragon 801 while Qualcomm has announced Snapdragon 820. “The next generation of chips is going to be where the high end gets really awesome,” said Kondik.
On hardware partners, he declined to comment much but tipped that Cyanogen has been working with wide range of OEM makers manufacturing all types of devices from mid-level to high-end. “Yes. Yes. I can’t say more than that. I can’t say too much about it, but it’s going to be awesome,” he added.
Kondik also talked about how Cyanogen faced issues updating through Lollipop build. He said, “Lollipop was tough for us. Not only was it a hard upgrade because there was so much UI change, we had a lot of stuff we were trying to deal with at our company. It was the first time that we had tried to do multiple devices simultaneously on, like, a production level. And we had a lot to learn about getting our own process right.”
On a question about Cyanogen’s strategy for bundled services, Kondik stressed that they didn’t want to ship smartphones with “a zillion apps on it.”