Not all smartphones are created equal, but the new OnePlus One (not to be confused with that other One, the HTC One) is roughly equivalent on paper with some of the most expensive smartphones in the world, albeit with a price that puts it much more within reach than most of those. The OnePlus One starts at $299 for a white 16GB version, and will also offer a 64GB variant in black for $349 when it… Read More
Cyanogen Inc., the makers of an alternative Android ROM that last year raised $30 million (in two chunks) in VC funding, from Benchmark Capital and Andreessen Horowitz, to try to turn what has generally been a geek project into something with more mainstream appeal, has named an official hardware partner for its endeavour.
Fittingly enough, this partner, OnePlus, is itself a startup — albeit, one founded by a person with experience of putting CyanogenMod on phones. Namely, former Oppo VP Pete Lau, who had been involved in bringing CyanogenMod to Chinese OEM Oppo’s N1 smartphone.
Lau has clearly decided to take that experience and apply it wholesale, in a new setting — where the effort isn’t an adjunct to business-as-usual Android handsets.
In a blog post announcing the news, OnePlus said: “The CyanogenMod team will work in tandem with us to combine the best hardware with the best software. They are developing a custom version of CyanogenMod with special features and tweaks.”
The first fruit of the partnership is going to be called the rather tongue-twisting OnePlus One. There’s precious little detail at this point about how the phone is going to differ from the N1 running CyanogenMod — not to mention stand out from the more-vanilla-Android crowd. But it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a mid-range device, with a pledge of “the latest and highest spec hardware” for the OnePlus One.
Other descriptors used are “fast, clean and beautiful”, which is all terribly non-specific so it’s a case of wait and see what the partnership delivers. The biggest trick the pair will have to pull off is making CyanogenMod attractive to a more mainstream user than has generally been the case thus far.
The OnePlus One is due to debut in the first half of this year, with a limited launch in “selected markets” initially, but with the aim of broadening availability down the line.
Recent years saw the birth of many new online brands in China, with Xiaomi being the most notable one with its complete ecosystem on top of aggressive pricing. And at last, it looks like local competitor Oppo wants a share of that pie as well. According to a rumor from just before the weekend, the company’s VP Pete Lau (pictured above) will be developing a new online brand from scratch, and its first product will feature top hardware specs along with CyanogenMod — the same renowned Android ROM that’s headed to Oppo’s flagship N1 and Find 5. More interestingly, Lau has just announced that today’s his last day at Oppo.
Cyanogen Inc. revealed a few months back that it closed a $7 million seed investment from Benchmark Capital. The vision it laid out at the time was no small one: it wants its cooked version of Android to become the third most-used mobile OS behind iOS and Android proper.
Naturally, that involves getting CyanogenMod onto as many devices as it can, and today the company took one giant leap in that direction. They’ve just made it easier for average folks to flash their software onto their smartphones with an installer app available in the Google Play Store.
If that last bit doesn’t sound like a big deal, then chances are you’ve never tried to install CyanogenMod on your own. After all, the original installation process wasn’t exactly for the faint of heart. While some devices could be coaxed into running CyanogenMod in mere moments, others required lengthy lists of instructions and some occasional finger crossing. Hardly an ideal situation for a company trying to get CyanogenMod working on as many devices as possible.
Even now, there are still some caveats to deal with. The Android app won’t do a whole lot all on its own for one, as it requires a companion Windows installer for heavy lifting so Mac users are plum out of luck at the moment. And most notably, the list of supported devices represents just a fraction of the Android gadgets currently floating around out there, so true mass-market penetration is going to take some time.
But let’s back up for a moment: why would someone want to swap their current Android build (whatever it may be) with CyanogenMod? Long story short, the Cyanogen team has been working to build extra features into their custom version of Android by way of very frequent updates. While they’ve been developing CM for a long while, it’s still very early days for Cyanogen as a company. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t making headway. The team inked a partnership with Chinese OEM Oppo to fold CyanogenMod support into its curious N1 smartphone, and with any luck, more manufacturer partnerships are in the cards, too.
As much as I love stock Android sometimes you just need something different, and that’s essentially been the guiding mission of the folks over at Cyanogen Inc.
They’ve made plenty of strides with their customized version of Android over the past few months, but now they’re on the verge of a big milestone – after officially revealing the thing back in September, Chinese OEM Oppo announced earlier today that its first Cyanogen-modded smartphone will launch internationally in December.
Wait, what? Who’s Oppo?
To really get a feel for what’s going on here, we need to flash back to mid-September. Cyanogen raised $7 million from Benchmark Capital at the time, and the company not-so-subtly hinted that it would forge partnerships with some honest-to-goodness smartphone makers to bring their modified version of Android to a wider audience than just avid phone tinkerers. That first hardware partner wound up being none other than Oppo, a curious Chinese OEM who may be best known for its Blu-ray players that has managed to cultivate a reputation for churning out some impressive (and impressively cheap) Android devices.
The specifics of the arrangement were… interesting, to say the least – Oppo developed its N1 smartphone in such a way that owners can easily flash Cyanogen’s custom Android build, but they’re also producing a limited quantity of those N1s that will ship to consumers with CyanogenMod pre-loaded onto them. It’s worth pointing out that the N1 is no slouch either – it sports among other things a 1.6GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 chipset, 2GB of RAM, a 6-inch 1080p display, and what the company refers to as the world’s first rotating camera so a single camera module can handle selfies as well as it can landscapes.
Now this is a nice turn of events for Cyanogen fans but this launch could prove to be an important barometer for the Cyanogen team. The Cyanogen-laden version is being pegged as a limited edition release so Oppo isn’t going nuts churning these things out, so an international launch means that both companies will be better able to gauge the sort of demand for honest-to-goodness CyanogenMod phones. And this more widespread launch goes well, Oppo has that much more ammo in its arsenal if it tries to ink similar deals with other OEMs down the road.
That’s not to say the team can just call it a day though – one of their bigger priorities is to complete a dead-simple Cyanogen installer built so owners of existing Android devices can swap their current builds for something a little different. The Cyanogen team has been rounding up beta testers to work on early versions of the installer (which will ultimately wind up in the Google Play Store if everything goes according to plan), but only time will tell when Ma and Pa will be able to flash their smartphones without getting bogged down in the minutia.
You might say the day is never really done in consumer technology news. Your workday, however, hopefully draws to a close at some point. This is the Daily Roundup on Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines for the past 24 hours — all handpicked by the editors here at the site. Click on through the break, and enjoy.
On the morning after the Oppo N1 launch, Steve “Cyanogen” Kondik was surrounded by several Oppo ambassadors and tech writers at a hotel lounge in Beijing. It’s a far cry from where he began: toying with Android ROMs out of “boredom” about five years ago.
“When I started this thing, I had, like, no idea that people would actually care,” said Kondik, the creator of CyanogenMod. “I was kind of watching out to see who was going to bring Linux to the first mobile device, in a way that it didn’t absolutely suck.”
In the end, it was Android that stood out with its open-source development, and Kondik saw the potential of adding his own enhancements to devices running on this OS. By day, the Seattle-based developer was a lead engineer at a bioinformatics startup in Pittsburgh; but during his free time, he worked on what later became CyanogenMod for the legendary T-Mobile G1, the world’s first commercial Android device. And of course, he bought it on the day it came out.
Oppo’s been prepping its photography-centric N1 for quite some time, but at last, the teasing stops today as the company unveils its first N-Lens series device in Beijing. We’re looking at a 1.7GHz quad-core APQ8064 phone with a 5.9-inch 1080p display, a backside touch panel (for scrolling and taking photos) and a generous 3,610mAh battery, but the focus is obviously on the camera. Not only do you get a 13-megapixel imager with an f/2.0, 6-element lens plus dual LED, but it’s also rotatable over 206 degrees! While THL’s W11 beat the N1 to being the first phone with both a front and back 13-megapixel cameras, it’s not as versatile as the latter’s implementation, and it’s ultimately all about the image quality.
In case you’re wondering, Oppo said the N1’s swivel camera has passed a 100,000-time rotation test, which works out to be seven years of usage if you rotate it 40 times a day. This is quite reassuring, given that you can also activate the camera — which takes just 0.6 seconds — with a rotation of over 120 degrees. Oppo also boasted that its camera’s been tested in over 100 scenarios, which is apparently the highest in the industry. Other features include long exposure of up to 8 seconds, an updated version of Oppo’s beautification algorithm, and support for video beautification in China’s popular IM app, QQ. %Gallery-slideshow89972%
Source: Oppo (Chinese)