How To Get CyanogenMod Apps Without CyanogenMod

CyanogenMod Logo

On the heels of yesterday’s plug for Ghostery’s new web browser, and further exploring the idea of getting a “root” experience on your Android device without actually rooting it, here’s something that was posted to XDA just this morning. It’s a way to get some of CyanogenMod’s built-in apps without flashing CyanogenMod. It’s called, appropriately enough, the CM App Installer.

I had come across it on the Play Store recently, but wasn’t sure if it was legit. Apparently it was legit enough for Google to ban it; the front page of XDA is good enough for me.

I personally think that it would be better for users if CM unbundled their apps and offered them as standalone downloads, either through the Play Store or F-Droid. Until that day comes this is pretty much the only option you’ve got—if you don’t want to flash CyanogenMod, that is.

CM App Installer Interface

Here’s a screen grab of the app from the developer. I haven’t installed the apk myself, as I’m already running CM and a CM-based ROM on both my phone and tablet. What I can do, however, is recommend what I think are the best CM apps. They are, in my opinion, the Apollo Music Player and the DSP Equalizer. Fun fact: Apollo at one time was indeed unbundled and available on Google Play, only to be unceremoniously yanked after four days due to an alleged copyright infringement.

The CM File Manager is a solid app that won’t phone home like ES File Explorer does. Similarly, the torch app won’t harvest any of your personal information. The Trebuchet Launcher is, from what I can tell, pretty much identical to Google Now (I prefer Nova). I would think that “Messaging” is just the stock SMS app from AOSP. As for the cLock Widget, you’ll get more functionality from an app in the Play Store called Chronus; it’s by the same developer, if I’m not mistaken.

And the calculator? I’ve honestly no idea…

What’s not clear from the developer’s thread on XDA is whether the apps will be updated once they’re installed. I’m guessing no. And conspicuously absent from the available apps is the excellent camera interface from CM 11S on the OnePlus One—for that you’ll have to visit the Android Police’s APK Mirror. Also keep in mind that the only way you’ll get CM’s best-in-class permissions manager is if you flash CM to your device. I think that’s ultimately why I’m pitching the CM App Installer here; if users try some CM apps and like what they see, I’m hoping they’ll be more likely to take the next logical step.

If you’re a willing test subject let me know how you get on with these CM apps…