Why the CyanogenMod Installer was removed from the Play Store, and how to get around it

CyanogenMod is a custom ROM that runs on many “otherwise OEM” devices. It’s a very popular ROM and is said to have more active installations than Windows Phone has.  The only real downside to CyanogenMod is the relative difficulty to install it. CyanogenMod isn’t alone, all custom ROMs share the same basic steps to put them on your phone: assume the risk, oem unlock, root, flash a custom recovery image, and flash the ROM and any auxiliary packages (like GAPPS). To many of our readers, this process is something they could likely do in their sleep — but t0 the vast majority of Android owners, it’s completely foreign. Pair that with the risk of potentially bricking an expensive device and a lot of would-be custom ROMmers shy away from undertaking the “adventure”. What they need is a CyanogenMod installer to help them along the way.

CyanogenMod Installer supported devicesCyanogenMod Installer

The start of the process is turning on ADB — the Android Debugging Bridge. Most devices have a checkbox to enable this functionality buried somewhere in the settings, though some have hidden or removed it.

That’s where things get interesting.

To assist users, the CyanogenMod team released an app to the Play Store: CyanogenMod Installer. The app was poorly named, in my opinion, since it didn’t install CyanogenMod at all, rather, it had one single function: “to guide users to enable ADB”. After that, it directed the user to download and install the desktop installer — which takes care of the rest of the process.

Seems innocent enough, right? That’s what I thought, until CyanogenMod got a “takedown notice” from Google.

Takedown Notice

On November 27th, 2013, CyanogenMod was contacted by the Google Play Support team and told that the CyanogenMod Installer application was in violation of Google Play’s developer terms. Google advised CyanogenMod to “voluntarily remove” the application, or it would be removed “administratively”.

(Initially CyanogenMod reported that Google indicated the app was in violation of the terms of service (TOS). CyanogenMod later revised its post because of an apparent “mischaracterization” of Google’s original statement.)

What rule did the app allegedly violate? The Google Play team reportedly said that the app itself was “harmless”, but since it “encourages users to void their warranty”, it would not be allowed to remain in the store. CyanogenMod complied and voluntarily removed its app.

Ironically, it’s the desktop application — not the one you get from the Play Store — that performs the installation of the CyanogenMod ROM on your Android device.


If you still want to use the app, the CyanogenMod team not only made it available for sideloading, it also open-sourced the app and is in the process of submitting it to both the Amazon and Samsung app-stores.

While it’s not an ideal solution, the ultimate result is much the same: a fairly simple process to get a stable CyanogenMod ROM on your device, without all the complication and confusion of doing it yourself.

What are you waiting for?

If your device is on the list, and you’ve been wanting to try out CyanogenModm head on over to the Frequently Asked Questions page, then grab the installer from beta.download.cyanogenmod.org/install and get started!

Would you like to read more about CyanogenMod? What does Stephen Schenck want from a CyanogenMod phoneDoes the new Cyanogen, Inc. have a hidden Achilles’ Heel? Pocketnow has all that covered — and more!


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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy". By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video. Read more about Joe Levi here.