In my post yesterday about Cyanogen(mod) 7.1 being released and the inclusion of Xperia devices I asked the question, what does it mean for us; I’ve had a little time to ruminate on this.
So how will being part of this/these project/s differ from the custom firmware we’ve been used to running? I think that the biggest issue to note is that neither will use any proprietary code, this means that they won’t include anything that isn’t open and free to be part of the release. Those who’ve used a core CyanogenMod release on a different device (or indeed some of the releases for our devices) will be used to flashing the firmware and then flashing the Google Apps. This is due to the licensing issues within the proprietary ‘Google Experience’ components, by separating them from the CyanogenMod code keeps Google satisfied as the Google apps are ‘backed-up’ from Google-supplied firmware; now in my opinion it is a good thing for end users as one can flash a ‘clean’ firmware and then install Google Market and selectively download the Google Apps. For our devices most releases over at XDA come bundled with all sorts of proprietary, and in some cases illegally distributed, drivers and software. To give you an example of those, excluding the Google Apps, that spring to my mind include:
- Any Xperia device drivers
- FM Radio app
- The Xperia launcher (don’t expect to see this in either core release)
- The input method: note that SE must have licensed T9 from Nuance for the original
I expect that running CyanogenMod, when it’s finally available for all the devices, will mean that the core release will use a stock keyboard and possibly not include a radio app; Sony’s support should eliminate the driver issues. I’d imagine that it will be easy enough to install or flash the extras in the way that the gapps are commonly installed onto CyanogenMod for other devices.
It’s clear that the news that CyanogenMod is officially available is not the same as devices getting official firmware updates and support from Sony Ericsson that was previously dropped.
In many ways this does keep the lights on for other custom firmwares; many of us are on custom firmware because SE left us on 2.1 with no official way forward and popular releases look to create a SEMC look an feel with a more recent core under the hood.
However the CyanogenMod experience materialises onto our devices it can only be good news; support from SE developers and official inclusion in CM will mean that developments in CM will propagate into all the custom releases we can use on our phones!