CyanogenMod installer now available on Google Play Store

CyanogenMod installer now available on Google Play Store

Summary: Want to update your Android smartphone or tablet, but your vendor or carrier won't give you a fresh release? Cyanogen can help.


Few things are more annoying to an Android smartphone or tablet owner than wanting to upgrade their device to a newer version of Android but being blocked from doing it by their vendor and/or carrier. Sure you could unlock your device and load an alternative bootloader — if you knew exactly what you were doing. Cyanogen, the company behind the leading alternative Android firmware CyanogenMod has released the first easy-to-use Android bootloader to the Google Play Store: CyanogenMod Installer.

CyanogenMod Installer
Say howdy to the easy-to-use Cyanogen alternative Android ROM bootloader. (Credit: Cyanogen)

While it's not as simple as click, download, and boot your new Android, the CyanogenMod Installer and its accompanying Windows program, makes upgrading Android devices easier than ever before.

At this time there are only a few dozen devices supported by the Installer. These are all members of the Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy, and HTC One lines.

You will also need a Windows PC for the CyanogenMod Installer. This assistant program works with Windows Vista, 7, and 8. It does not work with Windows XP. There are plans for a Mac OS X Installer, but none for Linux at this time.

With the pair of programs, you can upgrade the supported devices from their existing version of Android to the CyanogenMod 10.2 M1 Release. This is a version of Android 4.3.

For now, there is no version of CyanogenMod for Android 4.4 "KitKat". The newly minted Android company is working on this.

"We will continue to work on the 10.2 code branch, in parallel to all of our Android 4.4 efforts," the company said. "For those that will inevitably ask, we have not made any decisions with respect to what devices will make the leap to the KitKat code base and likely won't have that information for a few weeks."

Before jumping into upgrading your device, do keep in mind that this is potentially dangerous for your device. With more than nine million downloads, CyanogenMod may be the most popular alternative firmware. However, most of the people who've used it until now have been Android developers or power users.

So, to lessen the chances that you'll brick your device, or at least be in a better position to recovery it if you do brick it, be sure to take the following steps.

First, back up your data. Next (no, really) make sure you backed up your data and that you can read the backup.

Then, make sure your device's battery is fully charged. After that connect your device directly to the Windows PC with a high-quality USB cable. Do not use a USB hub. You must also turn off your anti-virus program during the process. You should also avoid moving the phone around until the install is complete. The last thing you want is to end up accidentally disconnecting the two during the process. Now, follow the instructions and good luck to you.

Still want to give it a go? Good luck! I'm going to wait until tomorrow morning myself before throwing it at my 2012 Nexus 7.

Related stories:

Topics: Mobility, Android, Mobile OS, Open Source, Smartphones, Tablets

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  • It is wonderful that people use their free time to develop

    rooting methods and updates. However, it also ignores the problem of Android updates. I have a brand new Samsung Galaxy Tab 3. Why do I have to wonder if Samsung will ever update it? And if they do, why do I have to wait months for it? Why don't I have immediate access to updates, just like Apple users? People can talk about "openness" of Android, but I don't care about that. What I want is a platform with regular updates and I want it without having to resort to rooting!
    • You are asking the wrong people

      Lack of "openness" isn't an Android problem, it's a Samsung problem. It's entirely their fault (and their business goal) that you often have to buy an expensive new device to get a "free" software upgrade. Part of it is simple economics; the device makers don't get any money when they facilitate a software upgrade instead of selling you a new unit.

      Until buyers get smarter and start demanding updatability as a product feature, this is what you get. If the Android vendors start to lose more sales to Apple because of their upgrade capability, then things might change.
      terry flores
      • You have a point Terry!

        This is one reason I see the future of mobile devices as rather murky at best. Having gone thru the Unix days with offerings such as Open Desktop from SCO and other players it was a fiasco. There were no standards and each Unix vendor (xenix for SCO) were going their own directions. While they were fighting out standards Microsoft snuck in and the rest is history. If you look at what they are doing now in attempting to unify the tablet/pc/smartphone industry it looks like history repeating itself. Google needs to follow thru with their promise of making the vendors toe the line and update their older offerings. They had a weak attempt awhile back to do just that but it the effort seemed to be more vaporware then anything. Apple will always be Apple and will have a "niche" market to themselves and seem happy with that. Microsoft has the long term stability and vision and in not so distant a future we may see android go the way of blackberry if they are not careful! Too much fragmentation as it stands. And not just Samsung but MOTO/Google as well. Promised updates, wait and then poof nothing! It will bite them sooner or later IMHO!
        William Smith1960
      • They need

        to remove the manufacturer/carrier dependancy in the equation.

        You get the hardware and drivers from the hardware manufacturer and they put a stock installation of Android on top - even a hypervisor would be sufficient. Then the handset is no longer reliant on the goodwill of the manufacutrer and (if you didn't buy an unlocked phone) the carrier.

        The Windows and Linux PC model of distribution needs to cross over to the 'phone hardware side.
        • Yes!

          And the sooner, the better.
      • It is not a Samsung problem

        It is a buyer's problem. There are millions of people flocking to buy Samsung phones.
    • What

      You're not even using Android as Google intended it. You're using Android as Samsung intends it. Your tablet does what it was intended to do when you bought it. You shouldn't have any reasonable expectation of an update if it is not broken in some fashion.
  • Surprised this is going main stream

    I have been a user of Cyanogen and some other custom ROMS for quite awhile now. Cyanogen is one of the best and in fact I am running CM10.1 on my trusty Droid 3 atm. Before people go jumping in headfirst, be sure you are rooted and have something like Titanium backup on your android device. Even better is a program called SafeStrap which in effect lets you have multiple ROMs and switch between them to see what best suits you. To me rooting is essential as I like having access and control over my device. It also allows me to run a firewall with Avasts virus protection. Along with having the ability to do many other useful things! If you are a power user, I highly recommend rooting but join a forum like XDA and do some research and decide if it is something you want to tackle before jumping in blindly and "Bricking" your device. :)
    William Smith1960
    • Look at YOU!

      Mr "I've-been-using-Cyanogen-since-the-1980s." Mr "I-can-also-post-lots-of-technical-jargon."

      Good for you, Billy Boy!
      • Was that really necessary?

        Really? He cautions you and gives you some info so you (probably specifically) won't brick your $600 smartphone - and you mock him.

        You must be an applite.
      • WTF?

        I don't see any "technical jargon" in there, why both posting something so negative?
        • Because it's zdnet

          And dysfunctional, nasty, obnoxious people will always have a warm home in the comment threads, particularly on articles written by SJVN.
  • @Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

    Steven CP/M-80? Now your dating yourself OM! That was the same era I got involved with this garbage. 128K on an 8" floppy! LOL Seems like a lifetime ago. :/
    William Smith1960
  • until they remove dependency on 'doze

    I am not even remotely interested. Don't use 'doze and have no urge to get it just to run this POS.
    • So, you don't like 'Doze, do you?

      Too bad. that kind of bigotry means you'll never have the opportunity to use the vast array of tools, available to good old 'Doze users.

      Seems sad that one won't use a tool because they don't like it when it might just be what they need to accomplish a task. Instead, they do without, and may just fail at whatever they are doing. All because they wouldn't use something they found distasteful.

      No wonder normal humans find IT people hard to stomach.
  • Good Article but....

    You needed to put a bigger caution out there to folks who have never attempted a root, S-Off, or ROM upgrade.

    Doing any of that will probably void the smartphones warranty - or could even brick the device and make it unrecoverable.

    Before anyone tries CM, you need to do the research, read the articles, go th XDA and read the main thread, go to YT and watch the videos, etc.

    It's important that you know what you are doing before you attempt to do it.
  • Is this really true?

    From the article:
    "Few things are more annoying to an Android smartphone or tablet owner than wanting to upgrade their device to a newer version of Android but being blocked from doing it by their vendor and/or carrier."

    I wonder what percentage of Android device owners even know the version of Android that is running on their device, by name or number. I also wonder what percentage know what the most current version of Android is at any given time.

    My point is that having the latest and greatest Android operating system release on one's device is mostly an issue for geeks, a very small percentage of the Android user population.

    What I personally find appealing about the CyanogenMod installer is that it gives users the option of upgrading Android on their devices once the OEMs/carriers have EOL'd a particular device, thus extending the lifetime of the device. As long as I am receiving timely updates for a particular version of Android, I wouldn't mind waiting on the OEM/carrier to release an Android upgrade. Sadly, more than a few OEMs/carriers do not provide timely Android updates. In this case, one can choose to take matters into their own hands and upgrade Android on their device. But, again, what percentage of Android users know when their OEMs/carriers are running very late with updates?

    Finally, the fact that CyanogenMod is leading with Windows users for the installer ignores the fact that the vast majority of Windows users never upgrade their laptop or desktop operating system. Instead, they buy a new laptop of desktop PC with a newer Windows version pre-installed. I suspect that most will do the same with their Android devices.

    P.S. Note that I have made a distinction between Android updates and upgrades.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Not for Verizon phones

    If you look at the list of devices, the only Verizon phone on there is the "Google Galaxy Nexus". Unfortunately it's not very useful to a big chunk of Android users.
    • So...

      I use as rooted and unlocked Verizon Galaxy S3. Works great. Most any Samsung device will work great and can pretty easily be unlocked
  • ... Cyanogen is good

    I use AOKP. It's closer to pure Android in its look. I love the look of pure Android and the customisation options under the hood.