The recently incorporated CyanogenMod previously released a 1-click installer app into the Google Play store, ostensibly to allow owners of specific devices to chance to test out the Cyanogen custom Android ROM without the hassles of manually rooting the device and sourcing miscellaneous files among other tedious steps typically required to flash custom ROMs onto a device.
At the time we also brought up the fact that such an app being approved for download on the Play Store also constituted a direct violation of Google’s own app guidelines, as well as violating its policies on apps that directly violate manufacturer guidelines, such as apps that lead to device warranties being voided. As the CyanogenMod app fell squarely into the former, we cried foul. It appears that Google has remembered its own guidelines, as the app has been pulled voluntarily from the Play Store with the following message from CyanogenMod itself to explain the situation:
Today, we were contacted by the Google Play Support team to say that our CyanogenMod Installer application is in violation of Google Play’s 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.
To those unfamiliar with the application, it has a single function – to guide users to enable “ADB”, a built in development and debugging tool, and then navigates the user to the desktop installer. The desktop application then performs the installation of the CyanogenMod on their Android device.After reaching out to the Play team, their feedback was that though application itself is harmless, since it ‘encourages users to void their warranty’, it would not be allowed to remain in the store.
We’ve seen hundreds of thousands of installations of the application, proving the demand for more choice, and that the need for an alternative Android experience exists. As we work through this new hurdle, we will continue to make available and support the installation process via our own hosting services. 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.
The application can be found via the Get Started link on CyanogenMod.org. In addition to ‘sideloading’, we are submitting the application to the Amazon and Samsung app-stores.
I emphasized the last part in particular, because while they can submit the app to both alternative Android storefronts, it does not mean that it will be approved as easily as it was the first time through the Play Store in the wake of the media attention it initially received. One also has to consider what Samsung thinks about a one-time partner submitting an app that is explicitly designed to void device warranties looking for approval within its own app store for its device lineup.
The overall problem comes when this app is designed to attract the average Android user, who will not have first-hand experience with device modification or even know what it entails. Is it really wise to expand the appeal of CyanogenMod to the general public, when the tools provided to the general public may leave them without warranty protection? Google was right to realize its mistake, now its Amazon and Samsung’s turn to decide if the app is appropriate for its storefronts.