Customization is one of the biggest selling points of Android, but the operating system isn’t nearly as customizable as it could be, and that’s because Google has put locks on it in order to ensure that it remains in control. However, Cyanogen has promised that it’s going to wrest control of Android away from Google, and one of the ways it’s doing this is with a new modification platform called MOD, which removes many of the artificial locks Google has installed on Android. This will give developers more control over Android, and will allow them to integrate their apps into the operating system in ways that aren’t possible on stock Android.
At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today, Cyanogen launched a new mod platform for its Android devices that might give it a major advantage over every other device out there. Cyanogen says that a mod is more than an app, as it can deeply integrate with the phone in ways that Google hasn’t traditionally allowed. In a sea of phones that have the same basic features — a black rectangle with a camera — the company hopes to differentiate in a different way. It provides a number of system APIs to a manufacturer’s developers as part of an Platform Development Kit (PDK) which includes the bits needed to deeply integrate an app or service. Microsoft, an early partner, is launching a number of integrations across its suite of apps including Cortana, Skype, OneNote and Hyperlapse that aren’t possible on a standard Android device. With Cortana’s mod version, you’re able to use the ‘Hey Cortana’ hot word just like on Windows Phone and launch right into apps as well as execute commands. Usually only Google is allowed use hotwords since the feature is reserved for ‘OK Google’ functionality, but Cyanogen’s version allows it since it controls the OS and distribution. Microsoft’s Skype mod integrates the calling service directly into the default dialer, so Skype is right in your face when you go to make a normal call.