Samsung has reportedly given key developers of the CyanogenMod development team free Samsung Galaxy S II smartphones.
In the latest sign that major Android smartphone makers are warming to third-party firmware development, Samsung provided the handsets to keep members of the CyanogenMod team in order to facilitate the development of a compatible version of the group's popular of Android.
Previously so-called 'ROM cooks' or modders were forced to relying on hacking the boot loaders for Android smartphones so they could gain control of the device and replace the firmware.
The community behind Cyanogen produces a popular alternative firmware version of Android based on the latest version of Android from the Android Open Source Project. CyanogenMod 7 provides the latest version of Android and a whole host of new features and performance improvements on top.
A small subset of enthusiasts are likely to choose their high-end Android handset largely on the basis of being able to unlock the device and update the software, thus ensuring they're not impacted by the common occurrence of manufacturers and operators delaying Android over-the-air updates.
Initially the official Google Nexus handsets were prized for having an easily unlocked boot loader but Sony Ericsson launched a website to unlock the firm's Android smartphone boot loaders in April. Shortly after HTC and Motorola signaled a move away from the locked boot loader policy.
However supporting a third-party Android mod team directly is something of a first. Cyanogen community member Atin said that CyanogenMod development for the new Samsung Galaxy S II would 'begin tonight'.