Steve Kondik, CyanogenMod Android founder, leaves Samsung

Steve Kondik, CyanogenMod Android founder, leaves Samsung

Summary: One of the best-known Android developers is leaving Samsung for a new, as yet unknown project.


Lots of users love Samsung's take on Android. But will they continue to love it now that Steve Kondik, the well-regarded founder of the CyanogenMod alternative Android firmware, has left the company?


In a Google+ posting about the new Samsung Galaxy S4, Kondik mentioned in passing that he had left Samsung: "I got to spend some quality time with the S4 (final hardware) before I left Samsung."

When Samsung hired Kondik as a software engineer in August 2011, it was regarded as a real win for Samsung. While we don't know exactly what he did for Samsung, we do know that he kept working on the popular CyanogenMod Android distribution.

At CynaogenMod, Kondik and other developers created multiple versions of Android for smartphones and tablets. These have enabled users to upgrade older hardware to newer versions of Android, and added multiple features, such as an OpenVPN client, interface theme support — and wi-fi, Bluetooth, and USB tethering. This has led to Kondik's reputation as a top Android developer who knows the mobile operating system from the firmware on up to the interface.

In his note, Kondik praised the recently released Galaxy S4. "Spec-wise, this device blows the competition out of the water. There are a number of unique features that have a lot of potential (assuming Samsung is opening up an API for them), such as the touchscreen, which can register "hover" events, and an IR blaster. Benchmarks put this device far above the competition (40K on Quadrant CPU) and there should be no reason why it won't run your favorite apps flawlessly. GPS seems to work better than any other Samsung device, with a lock being acquired instantly in almost any condition. The camera is excellent as well, both front and back."

He wasn't so complementary though about TouchWiz, Samsung's user interface (UI) for its Android and Bada smartphones and tablets. Kondik wrote, "TouchWiz has become a bit more consistent with the latest upgrade. There are no more jarring mismatches in different parts of the OS, and it's been lightened up a bit and has a clean "flat" feel. Unfortunately, it feels like it has been sent a few years back in time to the Froyo days. Say goodbye to all of the nice touch-friendly ViewPagers and say hello again to a fully tabbed UI . You'll also enjoy the seemingly endless onslaught of popup windows and modal 'Loading...' dialogs. UI performance is average."

So could it be that Kondik left because he didn't like what was happening with the UI? We don't know. We do know that in a response to his post, he said that he was leaving Samsung "but not because of anything in particular. Samsung was great. Just decided to do something new. Ask me in a couple of months :)" In the same message thread, he also has declined to be interviewed on the matter.

As for the S4 and CyanogenMod, there had been a rumor that the developers would not be porting to this device. Officially, CynaogenMod said that just because some developers weren't interested in the S4 did not mean that it wouldn't be supported. To be precise, the group stated: "CyanogenMod does not pre-announce support or lack of support for devices." And, "As for the team's stance on the S4, there isn't one at this time, and most definitely won't be one before the device is sold at retail."

With Kondik still with CyanogenMod, however, I strongly suspect that we will eventually see a version of the popular alternative Android fimrware for S4 in due time.

Related stories:

Topics: Android, Open Source, Samsung, Smartphones, Software, Software Development, Tablets

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  • Android is growing in leaps and bounds

    Wherever Mr. Kondik goes next will likely be interesting and exciting.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • CM comments

    I'll take this time to say thanks to CM and the developers. Cm10.1 has added just that extra bit to make my nexus 4 absolutely awesome (also along with nova launcher).
    One thing I like is, because CM10 allows superuser permissions, you can install gesture apps such as GMD gesture control.
    Together with CM10's 'expanded desktop' that allows you to get rid of the 3 button bottom bar (back,home,app list) and then use swipes to perform those functions. I never liked that bar as it just seemed so wasteful of precious space.
    Two other key features are USB host mode for your USB stick and themes support. I find stock android to be a bit flat and blah, but its a matter of opinion. Radience Blue is my choice for best free theme. Not overly slick and glossy but a nice balance.
  • SJVN articles are filthy lies.

    • Not this one

      Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Dimdows Fanbois Come And Go...

      ....SJVN will still be here. Because unlike them, his opinions are valuable enough for him to make a career out of them.
  • He has zero credibility.

    Doesn't matter when one's credibility is in the negative territory.
    • Buzz off, Windows fanboy.

      Get back in your mother's basement and get your fingernails stuck in the wall outlet. :)

      That's what you get for attacking SJVN.
      Grayson Peddie
      • Professionalism

        Professionalism - Do you understand what that means SJVN fan boy?
        • so what was the order

          attack SJVN until he retires or at least he swells his words and don't utter anything against MS next time?! With SJVN or without him this time MS F*ed up badly and we wont hear good news in recent future ;)
          • recent = near

          • No need to explain, readers know it.

            Enough said.
        • Professionalism

          Please, at least use proper insults with a few facts of your own. Just calling him a liar when he actually had a couple facts in his article.

          When one calls another a liar, one should not be in a glass house themself
    • then you have less than zero credibility

      and even if you were equal, his writing is at least entertaining.
  • Remember What Samsung Did In 2011

    Back then, third-party Android builds like CyanogenMod were just starting to make themselves known. Up until that time, the traditional response from big megacorps to such hacks on their products was either 1) ignore them (best case) or 2) put the lawyers on them to shut them down (worst case).

    Samsung did neither of these things. Instead, it took four of its just-released Galaxy SII phones, and sent them to Kondik and his mates, with a note that basically said "please get CyanogenMod working on these phones".

    It was a bolt out of the blue. It left lots of people (including myself) flabbergasted. The PR value was immense. Sure you could be cynical and say it was just a self-serving ploy, but it's not often that corporate self-serving PR ploys are seen to be encouraging third-party groups who are doing things with the company's products beyond those they can officially do, and perhaps the company itself would rather they did not do.

    Win for Samsung, for the CyanogenMod project, and for users of both.
  • There's a small typo in the article.

    The letters R and M were transposed in the word "firmware" in the last sentence, giving "fimrware".

    Just a heads up.
  • No surprises there

    Clearly hes worked out that a HOBBYIST doesnt fit in too well with professionals and he was expected to do work on his own rather than get other people to do it for him so he doesnt have to think too hard...