Engadget reported this week that users of the OnePlus One have received a new version of Cyanogen OS that enables the manufacturer to alter parts of the platform. Cyanogen OS 13.1 also adds Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) features to the software, allowing users to make Skype calls from the device's Phone app, among other things, and American OnePlus One owners can now use Cortana to take hands-free selfies through voice commands.
Cyanogen initially introduced those features – dubbed "mods" – a few months ago.
Cyanogen has quietly gained ground in recent years with its own version of Android that eschews Google's mobile apps and services in favor of its own. The company last year closed an $80 million funding round from sources including Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Twitter Ventures and Rupert Murdoch, and in July it announced the addition of two senior engineers from Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Qualcomm to its ranks.
The Information reported in March that AT&T (NYSE: T) was working with Cyanogen and was considering selling a smartphone running the alternative Android version. ZTE had reportedly been in talks with AT&T about building the Cyanogen-powered gadget.
Cyanogen essentially has no commercial presence in the U.S., of course, and the latest news won't do anything to change that: The Chinese manufacturer OnePlus has no substantial distribution in America, although Amazon said recently that it will begin selling its smartphones in the U.S. and the U.K.
And it's still far from clear whether demand exists in the U.S. for an alternative to Apple's iOS and Google's Android. But the recent news is another small reminder that Cyanogen continues to develop its OS and add some compelling features and functionality. The company may yet emerge as a threat by using Google's own Android platform as a weapon against the internet behemoth.
- read this Engadget report
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