Cyanogen is nothing if not anti-Google. Earlier this year, the company boldly claimed that it would take Android away from Google with its own heavily customized version of Android: Cyanogen OS. This means replacing the Google services that come bundled with the vast majority of Android devices with alternative services, such as replacing Google Map with HERE Maps. It’ll take time for Cyanogen to successfully purge its operating system of any and all Google services, but the company took a major step towards that goal recently when it announced that Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant would not only be replacing Google Now in future versions of Cyanogen OS, it’ll be heavily integrated.
Kirt McMaster likes to use the word dude a lot. He laughs at his own jokes, and isn’t afraid to poke fun at himself. You might not expect a guy like that to be at the forefront of a push to disrupt the global Android-iOS duopoly in smartphones, but the co-founder and CEO of Cyanogen is quite determined in that pursuit. And his Silicon Valley startup has major backers, funding and momentum behind its Cyanogen “alternative” operating system. International Business Times spoke to McMaster in London where he attended the launch of the Wileyfox range of smartphones, a completely unknown brand that has gone on sale in the U.K. and across Europe and which runs the Cyanogen OS right out of the box. The obscure name Wileyfox won’t strike fear into the hearts of Google Inc. and Apple Inc., whose Android and iOS platforms dominate the smartphone industry today, but there are big things coming from the Silicon Valley startup — really big things. “Ultimately if you are going into the mass market, when you consider the iPhone and Apple’s marketing budget, you have to have signature experiences that really stand out and you are going to see some of these things [from us] by late Q2, early Q3 of next year.”