Microsoft announced a deal to bundle its Android apps on Cyanogen OS last year. The deal includes deep integration of Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant, allowing it to replace Google Now functionality. We’ve heard a lot about this partnership, but Cyanogen is now demonstrating exactly how these apps integrate further than normal Android ones.
Cortana is voice-activated on Cyanogen, just like it is on Windows Phone, and it allows you to access additional commands like "take a selfie" or "turn on airplane mode" that wouldn’t work on iOS and Android. These are fairly basic additions, but it’s easy to imagine even deeper integration in the browser and elsewhere for Cortana on Cyanogen in the future.
Microsoft is demonstrating some of that deeper integration in its Skype and Hyperlapse apps for Cyanogen. Skype is integrated directly into the dialer, so you can make a regular call and switch to Skype just like FaceTime or Skype on Windows Phone. Even OneNote is integrated into the dialer here, allowing you to make notes while you’re on a call and have them attached to that contact.
Microsoft’s Hyperlapse app makes its way into the default camera on Cyanogen, allowing you to pick it from a selection of camera modes that look very similar to the original concept of Windows Phone’s Lenses. All of this forms part of Cyanogen’s new Mod platform that it announced today. It allows third-party apps to deeply integrate into its Android OS. Aside from Microsoft’s own apps, this means apps like Instagram or Twitter can display content on the Cyanogen OS lock screen, or anti-spam apps can catch messages before they reach a handset.
It feels like Windows Phone is living on inside Cyanogen OS
Alongside the Skype integration, camera features, and lock screen customization, it all feels like some of Windows Phone’s more unique features are living on inside of Cyanogen OS. Microsoft’s own ideas of extending apps throughout the OS never really caught on for developers on its own platform, but they might have a better chance inside Cyanogen OS thanks to the fact most handsets can access the Google Play Store. That might push developers to extend their reach into Cyanogen OS, providing the company can convince even more handset makers to ship its operating system.