MARCH 1, 2015

It's Time for an Open OS

Written by Cyanogen Team , Shane , in Inside Cyanogen

A Brief Look at Cyanogen’s History, and Our Future. 

A Brief History of Cyanogen

We've already come a long way since our early days, and we thought it might be a good time to catch you up on our history—and share what we've got planned next.

The story of Cyanogen starts in 2009, when Steve Kondik first set the wheels in motion, with a personal project that turned into something much bigger. Steve put up his first post on the XDA forum, under the handle "Cyanogen" plus the word "Mod." That post announced his new ROM for the T-Mobile G1, and it laid the foundation for what has since become the most popular open-source Android community distribution: CyanogenMod (CM).

The CM community took on a life of its own after that, with more developers coming on board to contribute to the project. Everyone had one goal in mind: to support a "mobile OS by the users, for the users." Shortly thereafter, our iconic character of Cid was born, a spunky, blue embodiment of CM.


*To date, we have +9,000 developer contributors. CM has the 2nd largest repository on Github after Ruby on Rails.
View full size image here

Fast forward to late 2012: Kirt McMaster, an outspoken technology entrepreneur, met up with Steve at a popular brewery in Seattle and the two immediately hit it off. They spent countless hours talking about what a truly open Android platform would look like, and how Cyanogen could become a tipping point—a game-changer for both consumers and the mobile industry.

In 2013, they formed Cyanogen Inc., with offices in Seattle and Palo Alto. After a fresh infusion of funding in 2013, Steve and Kirt got to work building a dream team and a future built on an open Android.

We the Company and Community

Steve, Kirt, and the founding team wanted to make Cyanogen even more accessible, with ever more awesome experiences—so as a company, we all began work in 2013 on the commercial operating system, Cyanogen OS.

We developed features and apps that would make Cyanogen stand out, and we preloaded the OS on smartphones through our commercial partnerships—starting with the Oppo N1, followed by the OnePlus One, and most recently, YUREKA.

We also focused on improving and updating CM builds, so the flash user base would have the freshest, most up-to-date firmware for their devices. Our engineers, product managers, and designers worked in collaboration with the active developer community to build UI enhancements and innovative features into the foundational CM.

Cyanogen and the "Blue Bolt"

We were really starting to come together as a company last year, and our "blue bolt" logo took shape. We chose that symbol to convey the importance of user choice and customization (like a bolt that our users could turn), and we felt that it also captured our focus on security ("bolting down," if you will) and our roots in the open-source community (a DIY band of bolt-friendly makers and modders).

The blue bolt was a major milestone in our growth as a young team. But as we've grown further, so have our goals for our users and our community.

We're still champions of customization, security, and the open-source community, but we also stand for more openness and accessibility as a platform—an open mobile operating system that gives developers, device makers, and users greater choice and interoperability in their experiences.

We Stand for Openness

So what does that mean, to stand for more openness and accessibility? Most importantly, it means that we believe we're at a tipping point—when the time is ripe to revolutionize mobile computing and lead the charge for an open, extensible platform that benefits everyone. We believe true innovation will be sparked by unrestricted access and by pushing boundaries.

That openness expresses itself in two important ways, through experience and community:

The mobile experience has already changed dramatically in the last few years, but that's nothing compared to the potential just ahead. User experience will become incredibly fluid and intuitive, and we believe more openness will accelerate this confluence of content and context. Openness is going to lead to more experiences that improve people's lives without them even noticing or having to "interact."

The mobile community isn't just developers and device makers anymore. It includes the community of millions of users, who are helping all of us learn what's important in a mobile computing experience. We want an open OS that continuously and democratically values and incorporates those insights—not a closed OS dictated by a select few.

We're Defined by Openness

As our values have evolved and advanced, we've realized that our identity as a team and a company should reflect that change.

Today we're announcing a new look that we hope captures our commitment to openness. This new approach celebrates space, with minimal letterforms that don't quite connect, giving the logo a sense of motion and a feeling of inherent energy.

The new Cyanogen feels open: fresh, expansive, and free.


Our new look is also reflected on our website. Over the next several years, billions of people will have their first computing experiences on mobile devices—so our site is fully responsive, with a mobile-first sensibility.

The new site builds off the same visual concepts in our new identity, increasing whitespace and updating typography for readability. We're bringing the visuals to life with a vibrant color scheme, a new look for our OS screens, and fresh content.


As we look back on how we got here, we can't help but realize that it's a pretty exciting time to be working on a mobile OS—and the fact that we're all in this together makes the journey especially rewarding.

As one global Cyanogen community, we're made up of diverse personalities, opinions, backgrounds, and interests, but we come together through a vision of what's possible: Inventiveness, creativity, nonconformity, and inspiration, on an open platform in which we can all take part.

Viv and Shane work on design and marketing at Cyanogen.