Cyanogen to Make New Modular Mobile Operating System

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After laying off 20 percent of its workforce in July, Cyanogen today announced a reboot for its modular operating system, an alternative to Google's Android.

Instead of building a completely new OS, Cyanogen will work with device manufacturers to customize their devices' features while still relying on Android as the core OS.

"The new partnership program offers smartphone manufacturers greater freedom and opportunity to introduce intelligent, customizable Android smartphones using different parts of the Cyanogen OS via dynamic modules and MODs," Cyanogen's new CEO Lior Tal explained in a blog post.

Tal takes over at a troubling time for the company. In addition to July's layoffs, Cyanogen's executive suite will also get some restructuring, with co-founder and previous CEO Kirt McMaster being relegated to a board position. Steve Kondik, Cyanogen's co-founder and CTO, also gets a demotion to "chief science officer." He'll report to Stephen Lawler, the company's SVP of Engineering.

Cyanogen has struggled to convince device manufacturers that its operating system is a viable alternative to Android, which powers the majority of smartphones worldwide. The company has seen some success, notably dropping CyanogenMod onto the OnePlus One for some time, but gaining more traction for an alternative Android experience hasn't been easy.

Meanwhile, Google has been ramping up its pressure on manufacturers to offer deeper Android integration and quicker support for OS updates. It also flexed its muscle last week by announcing its Pixel smartphone line, which introduces some user interface improvements not currently available in other Android phones.

"Cyanogen has made great strides over the past few years to create and scale a truly open and unrestricted alternative operating system and application experience," Tal wrote. "Yet, the need for a more open Android, which offers freedom and independence from any one single company, still remains elusive."

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