WileyFox disentangles itself from Cyanogen


WileyFox is rowing its users away from the wreckage of the Cyanogen disaster, with some help from Ricardo Cerqueira, Cyanogen Inc’s former director of engineering.

Britain’s only mass market phone maker is engaged in a mortal battle with HMD’s Nokia brand at the low end of the market. Today, the former released an update to Nougat 7.1.1 that further disentangles its users from Cyanogen OS.

WileyFox was one of several phone OEMs attracted by CyanogenMod, a community fork of Android. For a while back in 2013, the company set up to tame and commercialise CyanogenMod, Cyanogen Inc, was the hottest property in mobile, reportedly attracting bids from Google and investment offers from Microsoft. Cyanogen’s keen developer community brought lots of useful features of its own - some subsequently copied by Google itself. OEMs who adopted “Cyanogen OS” to differentiate themselves from the generic stock Android slabs included OnePlus, Obi and WileyFox were. OnePlus parted ways early on, after a legal dispute, and the venture ran out of road last year, leaving the remaining licensees in a quandary.

WileyFox says former Cyanogen Director of System Engineering Ricardo Cerqueira has been working on the phone maker’s code in a consultative capacity, but denied the company had hired Cerqueira or the former Cyanogen OS team full time.

The Nougat update adds two new features to WileyFox phones. One of these you already know about: WileyFox Zen, powered by the Yandex-powered content engine. The other is an integration of the useful Truecaller into the phone’s dialler to filter out nuisance calls.

The software rolls out to WileyFox Swift2 owners today, and other models in May and June.

Cyanogen OS was forked and born again as an open source project, Lineage OS, in December last year. The story isn’t over. Phone makers found that even with a forked Android based on the “open” AOSP code base, it was hard to get a functional phone without Google’s proprietary software.

And that’s something the European Commission’s competition department finds very interesting. ®

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