CyanogenMod 9 RC2 Rolling Out

While many of our minds are on Jellybean nowadays, CyanogenMod the premier aftermarket Android ROM has released their second release candidate for their customized Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich builds.  For those unaware CyanogenMod started back in the early days of Android and quickly turned in to the Android power users’ go to for speed, stability, and features for many devices.  It takes the existing Android Open Source Project and creates their own software with added features, in many cases they beat the manufacturers to releasing fully functional updates for devices and continue to support devices long after the manufacturers have deemed them “End of Life”.

Cid

The CyanogenMod team’s lovable new mascot Cid

CyanogenMod is officially available for over 100 devices in some shape or form with many unofficial builds for other devices because of the complete open source nature of the project.  The latest release adds support for a handful of new Samsung devices including Galaxy S II variants and the international version of the Galaxy S III.  The team has said that this build is stable enough to be “product that you’d let your mom use”.  I personally put CyanogenMod on my mom’s smartphone before I even let her see it so I’m excited to see how CM9 is on some legacy devices.  What do you think, has the long wait for CM9 been worth it?  Hit the source link for all the details.

 

Source: CyanogenMod 9 RC2

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OUYA – The $99 Android Console and Why It May Not Be So Cool

Kickstarter has been the topic of a lot of news in the past year with projects ranging from indie games, to iPod/iPhone accessories, to full out Smartwatches that run apps and link up to your smartphone by bluetooth.

The latest sensation to hit Kickstarter is a $99 Android based gaming console called OUYA (pronounced Wee-Ah).  The Kickstarter campaign started only days ago but they’ve already obliterated their $950,000 goal.  At the time of this writing they are at over $160,000 and still climbing by the minute!

OUYA Game Console

Image Courtesy of Kickstarter

What Makes This Cool?

The cool thing about this console is that it is not only running the (currently) latest hardware, a quad core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor but it has a free to play model.  All games available on the platform will be at least partially free to play.  In addition to this the developers seem to understand the core Android enthusiast demographic and have made the software totally open to tinkering, it is root ready out of the box and better yet root won’t void your warranty!  This means aspiring coders and established developers alike can toy around with everything in the software and make the machine exactly what they want.  Want to run an N64 emulator?  How about playing your classic Playstation games?  You can do it!  You’re only limited by how hard you can push the hardware and your imagination, and right now that’s looking like it’ll be pretty far.

OUYA

Image Courtesy of Kickstarter

You can get your hands on a console when it releases by pledging just $99 right now on Kickstarter, you can add a second controller to that with just an extra $30.  The release is currently projected for sometime in March 2013.

What’s Not So Cool

In other words: “Why I haven’t contributed yet”.  What I find to be the main problem with the idea (and in a way they’ve already proven me wrong) is that their core demographic is hardcore Android users it seems.  Now why is that a problem?  Android users love Android!  When you look at the device isolated it’s an amazing idea!  The problem is that most hardcore Android users already have high powered phones or tablets that are capable of running the same software and hooking up to their TV’s by HDMI plus they’ve got the added benefit of the potential to play these games on the go with mobile devices.  Now this on it’s own isn’t a big deal but when you compare it with the fact that it won’t be releasing until March of next year it becomes a problem.

By March 2013 Tegra 3 will likely be either on it’s way out or already old news and the latest and greatest games won’t run well on it anymore.  Sure anyone will tell you that $99 isn’t going to get you the latest hardware but I think a lot of people aren’t realizing that.

Another dangerous point of the OUYA is something I found as I was reading an interview with the creators.  The free games only have to have “part” of the game playable for free.  What is stopping the biggest game developers to only make a one level playable demo available for free like many have done on the Android market.  They could make the rest of the game available only via DLC.  Going from this nothing that I’ve seen so far suggests that the OUYA will be running the Android Play Store.  That means if you purchase a game on OUYA you’ll have to purchase it separately for your other devices, this could be counteracted by OUYA releasing their own app store that would be compatible with other devices though but I don’t see that happening.

Now I’m not totally condemning the OUYA, I was honestly hovering over the contribution button earlier today but I couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger on it.  I’ll be getting an ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity sometime shortly after it comes out and I’m having trouble finding something I can do with the OUYA that I won’t be able to replicate by plugging my Infinity in to my TV.

All this being said the nerd in me really wants to get one and I may just end up contributing tomorrow but I think it’s important to realize the potential downfalls of the project.

For more information check out OUYA on Kickstarter