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Just a few clickity-clicks and you'll have that latest Android distro that your carrier denied you

For the masses waiting on their oft laggard Android carrier and OEM to update their device to the latest and greatest version of Google Inc.'s (GOOG) operating system (which is currently Android 4.4 "KitKat") CyanogenMod (aka "CM") has offered an escape route.

While the reach of this replacement firmware package was long limited by complicated installation procedures -- procedures that required a fair degree of user tech savvy as the user navigated through as many as 20 steps (a process CM's authors described as admittedly "brutal") -- as many as 24 million Android users may already have taken the plunge, according to CEO Kirk McMaster (this estimate includes unregistered users; 9 million users went through the trouble of officially registering themselves).

Now that reach is poised to expand dramatically as CM has released -- as promised -- an installer app to grossly simplify this process.  To get started you just grab the CM installer from the Google Play store (the installer was at last approved today), grab the PC client app, and connect your Android tablet or smartphone to the PC.  From there the client takes over, requiring just a few straightforward approval click-throughs.  Behind the scenes the installer app and PC client use scripting to do all that heavy, geeky lifting for you, allowing the tech "n00b" and enthusiast alike to experience CM.

The Android device-side app [Image Source: Google Play]

A full list of compatible devices is available here and it looks quite extensive.

CM 11
Experienced users might want to opt to download the early nightly builds of CM 11 (which includes Google's new KitKat improvements) instead of the Jelly Bean-based CM 10 which is included with the easy installer.

The only disappointing news is that the KitKat distributions for CM remain in the beta phase (as CyanogenMod 11).  They're available here for experienced users willing to deal with potential bugs, but for entry-level users who opt for the easy-installer it appears they'll be receiving CM 10, which is based on the Android 4.3.1 ("Jelly Bean") source.


Company founder Steve "Cyanogen" Kondik, remarks:

Our goal for the installer has always been to allow more users to experience the benefits of CyanogenMod, without the hassles of technical guides and concerns associated with the process.  I’m especially pleased by the support the community has shown for our initiative and want to thank all those that helped beta test the installer.

In addition to making the latest version of Android available to device owners quicker than U.S. carriers/OEMs, CM also snags security features both from third parties and other parts of Google's development tree (e.g. CM boasted SELinux enforcing improvements, back when they were only available as part of special distributions like KNOX).

It is a notch above other replacement firmwares (generally) in that it allows you to tune the setup to your speakers with DSPManager, and updates itself via over-the-air (OTA) updates, reducing any sort maintenance chores for the user.

Once a hobby project for Mr. Kondik, CyanogenMod is now being developed actively by a small engineering team, and scored $7M USD in a recent round of venture capital funding.

Sources: CyanogenMod on Google Play, CyanogenMod, DroidLife

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RE: orly?
By bug77 on 11/14/2013 4:14:55 PM , Rating: 2
What can I say? I never had to wait for someone to provide updated images of Windows or Linux for my PC. I have a hard time starting doing that for a lousy phone.

RE: orly?
By retrospooty on 11/14/2013 5:01:48 PM , Rating: 2
Do you mean that MS gave you free upgrades from XP to Vista to 7 to 8 ? Or did a 3rd party do it for you? I am confused :P

RE: orly?
By bug77 on 11/15/2013 3:15:38 AM , Rating: 2
Now you're just playing dumb... You know very well what I'm talking about.

RE: orly?
By retrospooty on 11/15/2013 1:18:00 PM , Rating: 2
I do, but you know what I mean as well. I really think you are expecting too much. CM gives you something for nothing... Something really great in most cases...

You are sitting back and picking cases where they aren't giving you something good enough for free. Come on. Gift horse.

RE: orly?
By ven1ger on 11/14/2013 7:14:42 PM , Rating: 2
For the amount of grief that you seem to have over this, did you pay for it? Sorry, but if you get something for free, don't think you should be this upset it doesn't support everything for you. If you want them to provide support for what you want, I suggest that you donate to them and you can ask them to provide support that you expect but back it up with the amount of $$$.

I haven't even dared to try to replace my daughter's OS on her phone because I'm worried about messing it up but, I'm glad there are options that others are perfectly willing to spend time and effort on and make it available for free.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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