CyanogenMod Installer disappears from Google Play -- that's a good thing
When it comes to the Android custom ROM community, CyanogenMod is considered by many to be the holy grail. If your smartphone or tablet receives official support for the ROM, you can be assured of regular updates. However, for many, the stock Android experience has now matured to a point where custom ROMs are no longer needed.
Despite this (or maybe because of this), CyanogenMod decided to monetize its ROM and form a company. To easier facilitate the process of installing it, the company released a helper app on the Play Store. Yesterday, the app was pulled from the store -- and that's a good thing.
"Today, we were contacted by the Google Play Support team to say that our CyanogenMod Installer application is in violation of Google Play’s developer terms. They advised us to voluntarily remove the application, or they would be forced to remove it administratively. We have complied with their wishes while we wait for a more favorable resolution", says Ciwrl of the CyanogenMod team.
He further says, "fortunately, Android is open enough that devices allow for installing applications via Unknown Sources (ie sideload). Though it’s a hassle and adds steps to the process, this does allow us a path forward, outside of the Play Store itself".
I understand the frustration of the CyanogenMod team, but this is for the best. After all, the app does nothing other than help users replace the stock operating system with the custom one. However, since the process can render a device inoperable and lead to a poor experience, making it easy is not a good idea. After all, when users encounter bugs and broken phones, they will come to the cellular carrier or manufacturer for help.
Plus, while I am sure CyanogenMod's intentions are good now, there is nothing to stop the team from introducing malware or nefarious things to the operating system later. Ultimately, Google is protecting the security of its users by removing this potentially dangerous app.
Sadly, CyanogenMod will direct users to sideload the app by enabling unknown sources. This opens up users to further danger as malware and viruses can be installed by this method too. However, the company will also try to submit the application to the Samsung and Amazon app stores.
Ultimately, the stock Android experience is rather good and the benefit of installing a custom ROM like CyanogenMod is debatable. It is worth questioning why the company is so interested in replacing the stock experience, when it can ultimately have a negative impact if something goes wrong.
Let us not forget that a smartphone is a communication device that can save someone's life by calling 911 and other services. I have used custom ROMs in the past that have caused the dialer app not to work or for the other party not to hear me. Luckily, I was not in danger at the time. This may sound dramatic, but it is true -- a buggy ROM could kill you.