On Tue, 27 Mar 2012, Matt Giuca <matt.gi...@gmail.com> wrote:
> I'm under the understanding that if you don't use the official Android,
> then you can't use the Android Market (or "Google Play" now). Is this
> correct?

Google has a set of binary-only proprietary apps for Android which can only be 
installed by a hardware vendor who satisfies some Google conditions.  I'm not 
really interested in what those conditions are apart from the fact that 
obeying the GPL is absolutely not one of them.

The applications which come from Google are the App market (which can be 
replaced by the "Google Play" market on Android 2.2 and above - including 
CyanogenMod), the Gmail client, and Google Maps.

Osmand provides functionality which is in many ways equal to Google Maps, 
apart from the fact that Osmand has no satellite maps and no good search 
interface.  On the up-side downloading vector maps for all of Australia is 
less than 200MB of Zip file and thus you can use Osmand without net access (I 
plan to use it next time I'm on a cruise ship).  This is one significant 
Osmand feature that Google Maps will never have, Google Maps allows you to 
cache 10 miles square regions.

The Gmail client is an annoyance, it keeps on getting run when you least want 
it to.  I now use Fetchmail to suck mail from my Gmail account and put it in 
an IMAP folder on my own mail server just to shut up Gmail on my phones.

The Google App market (now Google Play) is really handy for a set of free as 
in beer apps.  Annoyingly it now features a book market which has absolutely 
no free books!

> I've also been told that if you have an existing legitimate Android device,
> then you *can* install Google Play into Cyanogen or another unofficial
> Android distro. Is this correct?
> If yes, then how difficult is it to get normal (Market) Android apps
> working in Cyanogen?

When you install CyanogenMod you are permitted to use the same binaries that 
you had on your phone with the stock Android distro.  But in practice most 
people who run the Google App market on CyanogenMod probably just download an 
archive of Google Apps from someone else - it's one of those things which is 
illegal because the copyright laws are insane.

Also it is possible to use various backup programs to take a package file from 
an Android system and copy it to another.  So if you have an Android phone 
running the Google Play market then you can use it to install an application, 
then do a backup/restore process to get the app running on an Android system 
without the Google Play market installed.

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