Cyanogen to Launch App Store, Possibly Dump Google Services

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Last Thursday paywalled tech site The Information hosted an event in San Francisco called Next Phase of Android—no time for definitive articles, we’re talking about the future here! Anyway, at this event there was a lot of bluster from Cyanogen, Inc. CEO Kirt McMaster. Seriously, if you believe the headlines that rolled out over the weekend, this is a huge deal:

“Today, Cyanogen has some dependence on Google. Tomorrow, it will not.”

“Cyanogen CEO Kirt McMaster said the company wants to take control of Android away from Google.”

Meanwhile, every Android modder that ever was is calling bullshit, because community versions of CyanogenMod been Google-free since 2009.

But this isn’t CyanogenMod we’re talking about here, it’s Cyanogen OS, the commercial firmware currently powering the OnePlus One and the Yu Yureka from Micromax. These two devices ship with the Google Play Store onboard, which makes McMaster’s comments all the more curious.

“Android today and iOS are essentially shells for Google and Apple services. Everybody else exists in these sandboxes with no access to the lower levels of the kernel.”

Another quote from McMaster, and a cool story for developers, I guess. But not really anything of particular concern to end users.

It’s important to remember that the only recent Android phone to ship in the Americas without Google Play support was the Amazon Fire Phone, which was pretty much a flop. And while Android phones sans Google are the norm in mainland China, Chinese users have their own Google—otherwise known as Baidu. Freedom beards also enjoy their own version of the Play Store called F-Droid; all the phones and tablets in this house are running it, but it hasn’t completely supplanted the Play Store just yet.

Honestly, how likely are you to run an Android device without Google on it?