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CyanogenMod Installer Removed From Google Play Store 255

Posted by timothy
from the now-that-sounds-ungrateful-to-me dept.
sfcrazy writes "[Wednesday] Google asked the CM team to voluntarily remove the [CyanogenMod installer] app from the store or they would be forced to remove it administratively. CM team chose to remove the app voluntarily. According to the CyanogenMod team, Google initially said that the app was in violation of Google's Play's developer terms. When the CM team reached out to the Play team, they found that 'though application itself is harmless, and not actually in violation of their Terms of Service, since it 'encourages users to void their warranty', it would not be allowed to remain in the store.'" You can still install manually, though.
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CyanogenMod Installer Removed From Google Play Store

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    If this were Apple removing an app, everyone would be complaining about the walled garden!

    • by somersault (912633) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @10:10AM (#45548319) Homepage Journal

      The difference is that Apple only allows you to install apps from the official app store. To allow unofficial apps on an Android device, all you need to do is tick a box in the settings menu.

      • by Stu101 (1031686)

        Err, you are totally wrong..

        You go into security settings and tick a box in there. I know as i did it last night with Wireshark.

        • Are you talking about for iOS, or Android? It seems like you're making a joke because of the Wireshark thing, but I'm afraid don't get it, because Wireshark doesn't work like that.. :p

          • by tepples (727027)
            I thought on iOS, it was just 1. subscribe to the (paid) iOS developer program and 2. tick a box in Xcode.
            • So, pay $99 a year just to install apps on your device? Can you actually install any app, or only your own apps? I think a much better option would be to root it.

    • by MrLint (519792) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @10:12AM (#45548335) Journal

      How about being outraged on the premise that installing of software is a warranty violation. I'd not be at all surprised that Verizon was involved.

      • by rainwater (530678)
        The warranty violation is unlocking the bootloader which this app requires (and is done by the companion app).
        • by somersault (912633) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @10:36AM (#45548479) Homepage Journal

          When I read an article it suggested that even just rooting the device was a warranty violation.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Nerdfest (867930)

            You need to unlock the bootloader to root.

            • by xvan (2935999)
              No, you don't... You need to unlock the bootloader to replace the kernel, and a custom kernel might (or might not) be a requirement to install CM...
              • by Nerdfest (867930)

                I've needed to unlock it for every phone I've rooted, although perhaps there is a way to get superuser active on some without doing it.

                • That's interesting, because it's not "standard".

                  Usually, rooting and unlocking the bootloader are two separate issues. My phone was rooted for a long time before I unlocked the bootloader.
                  • by Nerdfest (867930)

                    Exploit based, I assume? I haven't had to rely on that, although if you don't have to unlock the bootloader it's a better way to go.

            • by Nemyst (1383049)
              That's only true of some devices. Many root techniques use exploits which are entirely invisible to OEMs and don't require unlocking.
              • by petman (619526)
                Also, some devices, like non-carrier branded Samsung phones, don't come with locked bootloaders, so there's no such thing as unlocking the bootloader to begin with.
      • by msauve (701917) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @11:11AM (#45548639)
        Verizon doesn't warrant the phones, the manufacturers do. Not every warranty includes terms denying coverage for unauthorized software installation (e.g. HTC [htc.com], Samsung [samsung.com]), but some do (Google owned Motorola [custhelp.com]).

        HTC and Samsung don't cover damage caused by unauthorized modification (which would include installing another OS), but lacking anything which would point to that as the cause, there's no disclaimer. Google's Motorola, OTOH, specifically says they won't cover the product at all, damaged or not.

        MOTOROLA STRONGLY RECOMMENDS AGAINST ALTERING A PRODUCT'S OPERATING SYSTEM, WHICH INCLUDES UNLOCKING THE BOOTLOADER, ROOTING A DEVICE OR RUNNING ANY OPERATING SOFTWARE OTHER THAN THE APPROVED VERSIONS ISSUED BY MOTOROLA AND ITS PARTNERS. SUCH ALTERATIONS MAY PERMANENTLY DAMAGE YOUR PRODUCT, CAUSE YOUR PRODUCT TO BE UNSAFE AND/OR CAUSE YOUR PRODUCT TO MALFUNCTION. IN SUCH CASES, NEITHER THE PRODUCT NOR ANY DAMAGE RESULTING THEREFROM WILL BE COVERED BY THIS WARRANTY.

      • by thegarbz (1787294)

        Is it really software? Or firmware? When do you make the distinction?

        We have been spoilt for a long time by the ability to install what we want on a PC. There's the BIOS which will take care of starting up the computer and then an operating system which is user installable. In any case it's practically impossible to break a computer by installing an operating system to the point where it can't be recovered by simply starting the install of another system.

        However historically things that did break the comput

    • (though considering you posted this 2 minutes after the story went live, when there were no other comments.. you're clearly just a shill who knows there is is no reason for outrage)

    • by Vanderhoth (1582661) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @10:17AM (#45548363)
      Well, the CM team is free to distribute their app in other ways. Apple is a little more strict about only allowing apps from their store to be installed. I know jail breaking and all that, but if you're going to jail break your apple device you should already understand the risks and be technically savvy enough to do it.

      Google shouldn't have to allowed a known "potentially" dangerous app in their store. Anyone with the expertise required to use this firmware can go and get it from the Cyanogen website. It doesn't need to be advertised in the app store for non-technical people to download. Without researching it I'm sure a laymen would think firmware is some kind of a game and could mess up their device without knowing it. Then who's going to take the blame. I suspect it would be Google for distributing it, a laymen will never take responsibility for using something they didn't understand.
      • by dc29A (636871) *

        If you want to gain traction, 'distribute in other ways' won't fly because it's far simpler to install an app from Google Play than to download from a site into sd card, tick a box in some settings, get a file manager to navigate to app and tap click to install it.

        • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday November 28, 2013 @10:32AM (#45548451) Homepage Journal

          If you want to gain traction, 'distribute in other ways' won't fly because it's far simpler to install an app from Google Play than to download from a site into sd card, tick a box in some settings, get a file manager to navigate to app and tap click to install it.

          Your argument hinges on the belief that the users who want CM are unable or unwilling to perform those actions. That assertion is unproven at best. You also don't need a full file manager; you can simply use an APK installer. Some of them are truly teensy tiny. Also, web browsers will sometimes install APKs directly. I don't use Chrome, because it sucks, but Fennec will do it. And you can also open downloads directly from the downloads manager if you download them with the included crap browser.

          Now, personally, I do use ES File Explorer for this purpose, both for downloading and for opening the APK, but there's no actual need.

          I am running CM nightlies on Franco's kernel. I flashed recovery manually, though.

          • Cyanogen is expanding and going commercial. By definition that means they'll be looking to bring in new users that traditionally wouldn't be considering their product. That pretty much means they're going to have non-tech savvy users stumbling across it, and they'll be using sales tactics (since it's a product now) to get them to install it.

            I can't say I like that they're out of the store but I can see why google did it...
        • by Vanderhoth (1582661) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @10:35AM (#45548467)
          Modifying device firmware should never be a one click download from an app store. If you want to modify your devices firmware than you should know how to "download from a site into sd card, tick a box in some settings, get a file manager to navigate to app and tap click to install it" otherwise there are going to be a lot of spoiled teens out there with broken phones and tablets and parents blaming Google for messing up their kids $400+ device.

          I really want to say just getting their story on /. is a good way to gain traction with the people that actually have the expertise to use this product, but I'm absolute miffed by the number of comments, already, on this story where the commented doesn't know the difference between software and firmware and doesn't understand why that would void a devices warranty.
          • by MrNemesis (587188) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @11:51AM (#45548825) Homepage Journal

            It isn't a one-click method to install the CM firmware though - just a method of making the installation via PC less painless. All the app does is basically enable USB debug and help with the ADB setup.

            Ars did a pretty decent writeup of the installation process here; http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/11/android-roms-the-easy-way-testing-the-new-cyanogenmod-installer/ [arstechnica.com] - it's certainly not a one-step job.

          • by rtb61 (674572)

            The problem is they have decided to shift control of application installation into firmware, not for the benefit of the consumer but to lock the consumer into their market place and severely limit competitive choice. Is likely to be very worthwhile to start driving in that wedge between Android and the annoying Goggle App store and start pushing for more FOSS applications on places like http://sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]. People who buy unlocked phones expect them to be 'Unlocked' not not just partly unlocked.

            PC ow

            • I found your comment very insightful up to this point:

              people have been updating hardware drivers (firmware) on PCs for decades

              It seems to me the difference is hardware drivers tell one device how to interact with another device, where as firmware tells a device how to work with itself. Screwing up firmware means the device might not work properly period making it very hard for a non-technical person to fix, screwing up hardware drivers means you can't connect or use another device like a printer, sound or video card, which is pretty easily remedied because the primary controlli

          • by couchslug (175151)

            "I'm absolute miffed by the number of comments, already, on this story where the commented doesn't know the difference between software and firmware and doesn't understand why that would void a devices warranty."

            Slashdot is no longer a tech site and has not been for some time. It was bound to happen and there's too much profit involved to change it back.

            What is needed is a replacement for Slashdot for techies. The promise that such a site can be grown to profitability and the tech audience abandoned later i

        • by kav2k (1545689)

          Why would you want to fiddle with the SD card? Your mobile browser is perfectly capable of downloading the APK, opening it without a file manager and then if it won't install it's one tick in the settings.

      • by coder111 (912060) <coder@[ ]ail.com ['rrm' in gap]> on Thursday November 28, 2013 @10:41AM (#45548517)
        There are plenty of alternatives to the official Google App Store.

        I'm not sure if it's a good thing they removed it from the official store or not. If it was up to me I'd probably allow it with big red letters saying "THIS WILL VOID YOUR WARRANTY AND MIGHT BRICK YOUR PHONE". OTOH people installing stuff from official Google App Store don't expect these things to happen, so maybe it's a good thing for the masses that this app was removed... And tech-savy people will find ways to get Cyanogen installed anyway.

        --Coder
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You're the first post and you're wondering where the outrage is?

    • And rightfully so, however, Google isn't making it impossible to install the CM mod or the installer.
      I can understand their point of view, if a newb user is using this to install a different firmware and screws it up, he/she can't fix it and will try to claim warranty, which it will not be given. Then there would be courtcases and other shitstorm stuff that would damage Google because the user was stupid.

  • Voluntarily? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jbmartin6 (1232050) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @10:03AM (#45548281)
    This doesn't' seem all that voluntary to me. My reaction was yeah sure you go ahead and remove it, why should we do you any favors?
    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      Yeah, it sounds more like "resigning" before you get fired.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      yeah, should have forced it on them, nothing to gain except "goodwill" from google and frankly I don't see them working with that (it's not goodwill to get asked to have it removed in the first place).

      also, since when does google ask for that anyways? afaik they just remove it normally, doing it this way is abnormal.

      • by robmv (855035)

        Because they aren't violating the current Terms of Service (TOS), but probably will. I expect and update to the Google Play TOS soon. I think it is better to ask for it to be removed instead of not giving any info or giving vague ones (Apple style) of why it is removed.

  • by jbmartin6 (1232050) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @10:04AM (#45548295)
    Note from the article "Removed reference to Google stating the app was not in violation of TOS – this was a mischaracterization of Google’s statement."
    • So why was it pulled then? Just because Google wanted it to be gone? Or maybe because CM was trying to get shipped on devices?

      Cyanogen Mod Goes Commercial To Make "Available On Everything, To Everyone"
      http://slashdot.org/story/13/09/18/1626237/cyanogen-mod-goes-commercial-to-make-available-on-everything-to-everyone [slashdot.org]

      • Well presumably if they removed that statement because it was a mischaracterization of what Google said, then Google said it was in violation of the ToS.

        It sounds to me, to be honest, that this was a difficult decision from Google's point of view. I say this because the fact it voided the warranty was obvious from the beginning, and this is a high profile project that would have been closely watched by Google from the beginning. The fact they took several days to eject the app from the store suggests the

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          It sounds to me, to be honest, that this was a difficult decision from Google's point of view. I say this because the fact it voided the warranty was obvious from the beginning, and this is a high profile project that would have been closely watched by Google from the beginning. The fact they took several days to eject the app from the store suggests they didn't actually want to, but felt obliged to either because they were under pressure from other members of the OHA, or simply because they didn't want to

        • It's funny the way you characterize the removal at Google despite knowing nothing about what exactly happened internally. If this was Microsoft, Slashdot would immediately jump to the worst possible conclusion.

  • Reached out (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Thursday November 28, 2013 @10:16AM (#45548359) Journal

    They didn't "reach out to Google", they contacted Google. Using "reached out to" in this context makes it sound like they are trying to make an emotional appeal to an elderly stroke patient. The perfectly usable verb "contact" is also one word instead of three.

    • Good point. I just hope that your earnest heartfelt petition to the editors of Slashdot is heard and they change the summary ;-)
  • Can everyone side-load these days or do some carriers still lock that down?

  • Go on... void your warranty. All the cool kids are doing it.

  • They had an installer on the play store? Well I'd say that would have made things easier last time I installed, but it wasn't really all that difficult last time I installed it. On a Galaxy S3 it was just a matter of grabbing the CM image for the phone, grabbing a recovery image I could flash with odin, flashing the recovery image to the phone, booting to it and installing the CM image from the external SD card. The only tricky part was if the phone was allowed to reboot to the stock image, it'd rewrite the
  • by pla (258480) on Thursday November 28, 2013 @12:00PM (#45548885) Journal
    The peripheral legal implications aside, and at the risk of sounding like a Google apologist, I really can't say I have any problem with this.

    The sort of people who want to install CM will still have absolutely no problem going to the website and doing it manually. This presents no barrier to them exercising their choice of how to use their hardware.

    On the flip side of that, having it in the Play store presents something of an outright danger to people who don't know any better (aka "the vast majority")... "Oh, a new version of Android? Hey, I have an Android, I should grab this!". Ten minutes later, their battery dies, or they get sick of watching the installer screen and interrupt it. Oops! Partial brick-time, and now Google (via Samsung/HTC/etc, via Verizon/Sprint/etc) gets to deal with thousands of self-inflicted warranty issues.

    Again, at the risk of sounding like an apologist, Google has made compromises that let power-users do whatever the hell they want, while providing 99% of the "walled garden" experience most users want.
  • How can the act of simply installing software void a warranty?

    When you come down to it, today's smartphone is just a compact, pocket-size general purpose computer with a radio transceiver in it. I fail to see how anyone can legitimately claim that installing software on it (even changing an OS) can void the warranty - particularly such a computer that comes with GPL software which is designed by the very license for user customization. If there is a chance it will be bricked, then that's a manufacturing de

    • by xombo (628858)

      kimvette's comment so eloquently and thoroughly demonstrates why Google felt obligated to remove the app from their storefront.

    • by brunes69 (86786)

      Because a phone is not a PC, that's why.

      The bootloader of the phone lives on the same flash chip as the OS. For a moment let's just put aside the fact that recovering a phone from a bad flash using it's "download mode" is an arcane procedure involving special software that most people won't have. Beyond that, a failed flash of an OS can brick your phone in such a way that even the "download" mode of your phone does not work, and the only way to fix it is to crack open the phone and JTAG the memory directly.

      • by Khyber (864651)

        "Because a phone is not a PC, that's why."

        That's funny, because mine sure as fuck plays games, edits documents, and lets me use things like Skype, AIM, and web browsers just like a fucking PC. I can even plug in a game controller and use that to play games instead of relying upon touch screen controls.

        Or did you forget PC = Personal Computer, which defines a smartphone almost to a T?

  • One thing to try to appease Google Play is to change the app, so it's a set of instructions/downloads as follows:

    * If Unknown Sources isn't ticked on, the first screen tells the user to go to Setttings/Security and tick on Unknown Sources (maybe that screen could be loaded by the app to make it even easier?).

    * Next, the app downloads the apk from the CM site and installs it.

    * Ask the user to uncheck Unknown Sources if they had to check it on in the first step.

    * Run the downloaded app (exiting the original a

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