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Samsung Hires Steve 'Cyanogen' Kondik 177

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the get-the-best dept.
Some nameless reader noted a surprising twist in the tale of Cyanogen, an android modder once cease and desisted by Google. "Samsung Mobile has hired one of the homebrew market's most notorious and successful Android hackers, Steve 'Cyanogen' Kondik, best known as the creator of the CyanogenMod for Android."
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Samsung Hires Steve 'Cyanogen' Kondik

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  • by bhcompy (1877290) on Tuesday August 16, 2011 @09:44AM (#37106404)
    They're doing exactly what MS did with the Chevron team. Hire the talent to keep them from doing things you don't support while making it look like they're going to do something special for the community
    • by dokc (1562391)

      They're doing exactly what MS did with the Chevron team. Hire the talent to keep them from doing things you don't support while making it look like they're going to do something special for the community

      You forgot to mention creating a lot of money for the company and a stockpile of new patents.

    • Re:Just like MS (Score:5, Informative)

      by TadMSTR (996071) on Tuesday August 16, 2011 @09:56AM (#37106530)

      I don't think Steve Kondik is the type that would stop supporting what he started. Plus there are a bunch of other devs that also work on it. Samsung gave 5 of the CyanogenMod devs free Galaxy S2 phones and only asked that they make CyanogenMod work on it. Hiring Steve may allow for Samsung to ship their phones already running CyanogenMod. That gives them 1up on other vendors, hardware that officially supports CyanogenMod.

      • by esocid (946821)
        Samsung has been anything but hostile towards the CM team. I think this will make Samsung phones more codeable, but unfortunately take Chris away from the CM team, or at least decrease the time he has for them. They still have tons of talent with them. I gotta agree, using the "our phones are even more customizable" is a good angle, if only they'd let you get rid of the crap they bundle, and forcing you to use Bing. That's why I'm swaying away from the S2 phones, and looking at the Bionic.
        • Who is forcing you to use Bing? I know Verizon had a contract with MS to put it on all their phones, but that appears to have expired, My Droid Charge doesn't have a trace of Bing on it.
          • by Drathos (1092)

            Verizon's left the Droid-branded phones alone, but have replaced many of Google's standard apps with Bing versions on others like the LG Revolution, Samsung Fascinate and Continuum, and Sony Xperia Play. They've also been pushing their VCAST apps more and more.

        • by bhcompy (1877290)
          To be honest, Bing for mobile is better than Google when I compare my LG Quantum(WP7) to my Samsung Infuse(Android). Not sure if Bing apps/functionality is any different on Android, though.

          /Google better for desktops, though their new "features" are grating
      • by wiedzmin (1269816)

        I don't think Steve Kondik is the type that would stop supporting what he started.

        Well that depends on whether he likes his job or not... and if he didn't - he wouldn't have taken up the offer. So from this point on, he is the type that does what his employer tells him to do.

        Hiring Steve Kondik gives Samsung ability to copyright CyanogenMod and sell it for money.

        • by technomom (444378)
          I hadn't heard that they had extracted the rights for CyanogenMod along with him. I wouldn't assume that was part of the deal.
        • by brainboyz (114458)

          In what world do you live in? Unless signed over, Kondik would still hold the copyright to CyanogenMod. Samsung might own rights to whatever he worked on after being hired IF that was stipulated in his contract, or at a minimum during work hours if not otherwise specified in his contract, but nothing would give them the copyright to the name or the whole project.

        • You know...it is entirely possible that this dude was in the market for a new job and decided to use is proven experience working with android interfaces to get one. He could have applied to HTC and Motorola too while saying "look at what I have...maybe I can help make motoblur not suck?"

          Its not like we see a press release from Samsung saying that they sought out this guy and hired him and acquired rights to CM (and you had better believe they would issue something)...My guess is that he got a pretty goo

      • by mcvos (645701)

        Samsung gave 5 of the CyanogenMod devs free Galaxy S2 phones and only asked that they make CyanogenMod work on it.

        Awesome. Samsung gets it. Now if only they made a steel phone with a keyboard, and I'll happily give them my money.

      • That's great... now, when are they going to do that for their other phones, such as the Intercept? Not all of us can afford a Galaxy S2 (or, more to the point, are using a carrier that such a fancy phone is available on).

      • by mjwx (966435)

        I don't think Steve Kondik is the type that would stop supporting what he started. Plus there are a bunch of other devs that also work on it. Samsung gave 5 of the CyanogenMod devs free Galaxy S2 phones and only asked that they make CyanogenMod work on it. Hiring Steve may allow for Samsung to ship their phones already running CyanogenMod. That gives them 1up on other vendors, hardware that officially supports CyanogenMod.

        I wouldn't say that Samsung would officially support CM but Samsung recognise that they make the hardware, all of their money comes from the HW and they've got practically no stake in the software beyond making sure it works on the HW.

        But on the other hand, they know the Android community is a force to be reckoned with and clearly want to remain onside so that they will continue to support and recommend Samsung products to non technical people.

        But Steve Kondik was hired simply because he's a proven go

    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      Except that I don't think MS donated hardware to the Chevron team... Samsung has donated multiple GSIIs to Cyanogenmod devs.

    • by oakgrove (845019)
      Cyanogenmod is a great ROM but, I assure you, it isn't the only one. Samsung would go broke before they could hire all of the Android modders out there. Not to mention the fact that the cellphone version of Android is available in its entirety in source form from AOSP so they'd have to buy Google while they were at it. Ha. Last but not least, they gave a Galaxy S 2 to the Cyanogenmod team a couple of months back explicitely condoning the porting of cyanogenmod to it. It looks to me like they are search
      • I've been running a Samsung Galaxy Prevail for a few months now, upgraded from my G1, which was way long in the tooth. I don't really use the smart phone functionality much at all, mainly use it for calling/texting and now will sometimes check in on G+. I appreciate that most apps run, but needed a 3rd party mod to reduce the bloat that Samsung/Boost included on this phone. ShabbyMod did that, I do hope for a Cyanogenmod release though, as Shabby isn't much more than stock android, but works quite well.
      • Not to mention the fact that the cellphone version of Android is available in its entirety in source form from AOSP

        The Market application is not; it's made available only to OHA members. I've read about problems getting Market back after installing CM [cyanogenmod.com].

        • by oakgrove (845019)
          The Market application is just that. An application. It adds a ton of value to Android but it is not Android anymore than iTunes is OSX or Internet Explorer is Windows despite MS' protestations to the contrary. To put an even finer point on it, it is only in the last few years that people have any expectation of a default application delivery mechanism be included with an operating system. Does that makes Windows not Windows because it doesn't have an analog to the market? Of course not. With Windows,
          • With Windows, you can search the internet and download what you need. As it is with Android.

            Unless your bank won't make its check deposit application available as a downloadable .apk file. I visit Chase's page about its Quick Deposit application [chase.com] on my device, but all it says is "Get the Chase Mobile App from the App Store or Android Market." Specifically, "Chase Mobile App" is not clickable.

            • by oakgrove (845019)
              The last time I saw you posting about this issue, I personally downloaded the Chase app and then copied it from the phone, put it on dropbox and posted a link for you.

              Here it is again [dropbox.com].

              What does this have to do with vanilla AOSP Android again?

              • Here it is again

                Thank you. I have downloaded it and will install it on my device once I can answer the following question that someone brought up last time: How should I verify that the application available from Dropbox is identical to the one that Chase distributes via Android Market and not an attempt to defraud? If Chase were distributing the .apk on Chase.com, I could do due diligence on the connection's SSL certificate. This page [blogspot.com] recommends using jarsigner.exe, but all I get from jarsigner -verify -verbose -certs com

    • Microsoft didn't hire anybody from the Chevron team, but way to put a cynical spin on misinformation that will be blindly accepted here at Slashdot.
  • by Tsingi (870990)
    I hope this doesn't mean he is no longer developing Cyanogen.
    I use it.
    • Re:Ack! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Tuesday August 16, 2011 @10:03AM (#37106598)
      I'm going to cautiously take this as a Good Thing(tm). Samsung makes decent enough hardware, equipped with awe-UNinspiring software, so they could certainly use the help. While we might be looking at the end of his involvement in Cyanogen, we could be looking at the beginning of the first real Android fork/distro. Meanwhile, had he let Google hire him, we never would have heard of him again - he'd have disappeared into Google's Android development team.
      • by Tsingi (870990)
        A fine optimistic outlook; that would in fact, be awesome.
      • Steve, if you happen to read this, just one request for future Samsung kernels: Bluetooth HID and SPP. Please. You can even skip the downstream implementation for now. Just get the damn kernel-level stuff in there, so anybody with a rooted Samsung phone and stock Kondik-era kernel can take it from there and make it work later. It's the kernel that kills us dead in our tracks every single time, because rolling a custom kernel from scratch inevitably seems to mean giving up Sprint 4G, working network-accelera

        • by MrHanky (141717)

          Isn't Bluetooth HID something that can be implemented with a kernel module? If so, you should be able to get around rolling your own kernel.

          • As I understand it, the problem is that Samsung's kernel uses BlueZ as a module, but it was compiled without support for HID and SPP. To add HID and SPP, you'd have to recompile and rebuild the entire module, including the parts that interface with the largely undocumented and Samsung-proprietary Bluetooth chipset itself. In other words, you can't just build a module for HID and SPP and clamp it onto the existing module to extend its functionality. It's all or nothing -- total replacement, or nothing at all

        • ...The fact that Motorola might shift from Lawful Evil to Chaotic Neutral under Google

          You almost made me overthrow my coffee, thanks for the laughs :)

        • by Tsingi (870990)

          doesn't have some fatal, stupid last-minute cost-shaving hardware deficiency that ruins it just to reduce the manufacturing cost by 23 cents

          ROFL!! Ain't that the truth.

        • Why does Bluetooth HID/SPP need a custom kernel?
          Isn't it possible to write a userspace daemon to handle serial communications to a Bluetooth radio?

      • I agree, NotEvil++!

        Way to go Google! Great aquisition, someone who's really passionate about getting the consumer what they want... how they want it!

        As well as being an excellent developer, a great team leader, and interested in this work, he has his ear to the ground. Hiring someone like this is how to obtain the next great idea.

        Give him the Google entry test... he was probably just to shy to apply and will pass making him a full Googler. Otherwise he'll feel like an outsider and won't get the respe
    • by blair1q (305137)

      I doubt he has stopped.

      But now it will be known as "Samsung Mobile Android Plus."

      Which would be kind of a downgrade even if the features are improved...

  • i get a decent software for updating the galaxy tab?

  • by phoxix (161744) on Tuesday August 16, 2011 @09:48AM (#37106456)

    .... and have him help them optimize their ROM images and the experience presented. Lets hope they don't hire him to help them lock down their ROMs, bootloaders, etc some more ....

    Think about it, who else would be better at locking things down than the guy who defeats such locks all the time?

    • by stiggle (649614)

      Seeing as Samsung said that any versions of Android above 1.6 wouldn't work on the original Galaxy (i7500) and the community got Froyo working on it nicely - I'd hope they're bringing him in to show the other developers in house how to work with Android properly rather than the less than optimal code they put out now.

      As for locking bootloaders, etc - others have been just as capable of breaking them :-)

      • by Zebedeu (739988)

        I had a Galaxy i7500 and while it's true that they did get Froyo running on the hardware, I wouldn't call it nicely.
        "Barely usable" would be a better description.

        Having said that, the community's 1.5 and 1.6 builds were much better than the Samsung counterparts.

    • by morcego (260031)

      Humm, as far as I know, he doesn't unlock stuff. Actually, based on his statements regarding the Motorola Milestone, he doesn't and won't support phones with locked bootloaders.

  • by Lifyre (960576) on Tuesday August 16, 2011 @10:11AM (#37106686)

    This is just another move on the chess board. Google bought Motorola which will invariably give Motorola the inside track on Android to some extent. Samsung realized that while their hardware has been quite good their software has been severely lacking in both quality and updates. This hire makes perfect sense, it allows them to produce higher quality software (the goal being to improve upon Google's not just dress it up pretty) with a better update policy. If they actually allow their software to be run like CM has been (and force it through the providers) then it puts LG and HTC in poor positions long term.

    • This shows some support on the part of Samsung for open source, although not in the way I had been hoping. I've heard that Samsung is working on a Linux-based phone, apparently with shell. Is this correct? Anyone else confirm/refute this? I heard from what seemed to be a reliable "on the inside" source a year ago, but with the way the economy is going, I wouldn't be surprised if this was a very real project that met a very real end.

      Any inkling of news would be appreciated, however, since I am hoping I d

      • by Lifyre (960576)

        Interesting I hadn't heard this before. Although unless I missed something adding shell to Android is fairly trivial so it could just be a custom flavor of Android.

  • by c.r.o.c.o (123083) on Tuesday August 16, 2011 @10:12AM (#37106698)

    I own a lowly HTC Desire, unlocked and rooted, and I've used it with the stock HTC Sense as well as many other custom firmwares. I have also seen HTC Sense, Motorola Blur and stock Android on other phones

    Cyanogen is by far the most advanced of all. If you really are interested in unlocking your phone's true potential, it's the only choice. My HTC Desire running Cyanogen is about twice faster than when running Sense, both in benchmarks and real world use. Maybe if HTC were to update their OS to 2.3.5 like Cyanogen, the performance differences would be reduced, but that hasn't happened yet AFAIK.

    As the article states, tethering is enabled by default. And it also allows the user to select per app permissions, something even the stock Android will not do. And if you're adventurous, running the Nightlies guarantees the latest technology. It's actually not as dangerous as it sounds, because in almost 100 Nightlies only 2 or 3 were duds and restoring from backups took 15 minutes.

    Whichever phone I purchase next, the main requirement is that Cyanogen supports it. For me it's even more important than camera resolution, screen size or storage space. I mean with a fast SD card and a few tweaks I can fit 100 apps on my HTC Desire.

    • by oakgrove (845019)
      Absolutely. My OG Droid with less RAM and a decidedly aging chipset but running Cyanogenmod 7 is faster than my girlfriend's stock Galaxy S. It stuns me that a rag-tag group of enthusiasts can so thoroughly spank a billion dollar corporation's highly funded professional developer group. I wish Steve the best as I have enjoyed his work starting with my old G1 and now with my OG Droid that, honestly, without cyanogen, I would have chucked in the trash long ago. Hmm... Maybe that's why the hardware makers
      • >It stuns me that a rag-tag group of enthusiasts can so thoroughly spank a
        > billion dollar corporation's highly funded professional developer group.

        A developer group that, like any, is thinly-spread across dozens of individual projects at any moment in time, and never has enough time to do more than make it work well enough to satisfy Marketing & Management. Companies like HTC and Samsung are starting to realize that a dozen guys porting CMx to their hardware is roughly equivalent to quadrupling t

        • by adolf (21054)

          Except the Cyanogenmod-using crowd consists of those who are most likely to actually fix their own phones when broken.

          I replaced the digitizer and the LCD screen in my Motorola Droid. I'd never have paid someone to do it for me, but as a tinkerer geek it just seemed like the right thing to do. The digitizer was free from someone else's water damaged phone, while the LCD screen is a cheap Ebay part that looks and works just like the original.

          Between fixing things myself and Cyanogenmod, I'm not really inte

      • by chrb (1083577)

        It stuns me that a rag-tag group of enthusiasts can so thoroughly spank a billion dollar corporation's highly funded professional developer group.

        It shouldn't be that stunning. I have an engineer friend who worked in Korea with one of the ex-managers of Samsung's Galaxy S project. Some amusing insights into Samsung's business strategy:

        • The Galaxy S was actually a beta-prototype. They knew of problems with the hardware and software. When management saw the prototype unit, they decided to ship it. That's right, they went ahead with a worldwide release of a prototype design. The Samsung manager told my friend "Wait for the next hardware - that's the r
      • by mjwx (966435)

        It stuns me that a rag-tag group of enthusiasts can so thoroughly spank a billion dollar corporation's highly funded professional developer group.

        I'd hardly call the CM community "rag-tag" but I'll answer that point. Some of the CM releases were abysmal. frequent reboots, radio dropouts, FC galore, pretty much to the point that you had to go back to the previous version. Whilst I haven't seen this in recent days the fact that CM can put out a release with a lot of bugs without any recourse gives them the

    • by Asic Eng (193332)

      tethering is enabled by default

      Is that a US thing? My wife has an Incredible S (purchased in Taiwan) and I have a Galaxy S2 (purchased in Germany). Both allow tethering. Or am I missing something?

      Thanks for making me aware of the per app permission thingy, sounds like I should give Cyanogen a try.

      • by c.r.o.c.o (123083)

        Is that a US thing? My wife has an Incredible S (purchased in Taiwan) and I have a Galaxy S2 (purchased in Germany). Both allow tethering. Or am I missing something?

        Thanks for making me aware of the per app permission thingy, sounds like I should give Cyanogen a try.

        Yes, it is a US and Canadian thing. Basically when the major carriers purchase a phone from the manufacturer, they intentionally have some functionality removed that competes with their paid options. This is justified (in their eyes) by the fact

        • by tepples (727027)

          I always buy my phones outright from alternate sources

          Not everybody is willing to pay hundreds more for these. None of the three largest carriers offer a discount for bringing your own phone; all the plans are priced under the assumption that the subsidy for a new contract phone is included. T-Mobile USA used to give a discount called "Even More Plus", which amounted to $10/mo for voice and $20/mo for voice and data, but this will probably go away once AT&T completes its acquisition of T-Mobile's USA operations.

          • It can be cheaper to buy outright, depending on the carrier and plans. For example: http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2011/08/02/how-to-save-on-your-cell-phone-plan-with-secret-no-contract-deals/ [getrichslowly.org]

            (note that I'm not American, so I don't know much about T-Mobile, but I came across that article recently and thought it might help)

            • by tepples (727027)

              It can be cheaper to buy outright, depending on the carrier and plans.

              The article mentions T-Mobile USA, which is soon to be acquired by AT&T. It also mentions walking into a carrier's store to ask a human being about no-contract service. I asked an AT&T representative about such plans back in March, and he reacted with surprise that another carrier would offer no-contract plans cheaper than contract plans.

    • by CODiNE (27417)

      I mean with a fast SD card and a few tweaks I can fit 100 apps on my HTC Desire.

      What does this mean? Do other Android phones or stock OS versions have some kind of App limit?

      • Unfortunately most Android device manufacturers have stupidly decided to put a nearly useless amount of internal flash ROM in their phones and then try to balance it by including a decent sized but typically crappy and slow microSD card. My Evo has 512MB of ROM, of which about half of that is available for use on a stock CyanogenMod install (HTC's OEM "SenseUI" ROM is even worse). Some Android apps can't run off SD through the Google official method and others don't run well, but if you have a modded ROM

    • by brunes69 (86786)

      This is not really true. Cyanogen is basically vanilla Android, with a few UI tweaks. That is it.

      There are a lot of things lacking in vanilla Android

      - The stock launcher is pretty bare-bones. I use ADW

      - The stock camera app is pretty bare-bones. Can't even do panoramas. I prefer (and use) the one Samsung wrote

      - Stock lockscreens are crap. I purchased WidgetLocker, best $2.00 I ever spent.

      I find when most people go on about such-and-such in Syanogen - they often fail to realize that such-and-such feature is

  • I thought Google was committed to keeping Android "open".

    Where's the sense in offering an open platform and then sending out cease-and-desist letters to people who modify it?

    • by nateand (1487549)
      The only thing they wanted stopped was the inclusion of the Google Apps on cyanogenmod by default. Now the ROM comes without google apps, but you can easily download an installer that adds them back in.
    • by ahow628 (1290052)
      They asked him in the cease and desist to remove the proprietary Google apps (Gmail, Reader, or whatever) from the package. They are available as a separate flashable zip.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Informative)

      by damnbunni (1215350) on Tuesday August 16, 2011 @10:46AM (#37107096) Journal

      As I understand it the C&D wasn't for modifying Android, it was for bundling the Google Apps in with the modified Android. (You can still get them with Cyanogenmod, but now they're a separate download.)

    • by idontgno (624372)

      Where's the sense in offering an open platform and then sending out cease-and-desist letters to people who modify it?

      And that, my lost-carrier friend, is the existential question. Why would Google do that?

      Consensus is that Google has a slightly different meaning for the word "open". They support AOSP, which means that the Android core OS is open in the more-or-less conventional sense. AOSP is, after all the beginning of awesome mod roms like Cyanogenmod. But Google's sense of openness ends where their own

  • I installed DarkyROM 9.3 (froyo) a couple of weeks ago and have been pretty happy, particularly with battery life. How does it compare to Cyanogen? Any good reason to switch?
    • by GooberToo (74388)

      CyanogenMod tends to try to target the sweet spot between performance and battery life. You may not get as good of battery life (then again, you may) but likely you'll have a faster, lower latency experience with CyanogenMod.

  • Could this be Samsung's way of hedging its bets against Google closing Android now that it is buying Motorola? Cyanogen Mod doesn't rely on any of the Google code that isn't open source so it could be forked to cut Google out all together if need be.
    • by polyp2000 (444682)

      Unlikely ...
      Far more likely its for its patent portfolio of over 14000 patents. And since Motorola have been in the mobile business for a very long time Ill bet they
      have a substantial catalogue of patent missiles ready to fire over the fence to anyone who wants a mudslinging match with Google / Android.

      This almost certainly a response to the shit flinging against android thats fashionable at the moment.

      N...

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