Google is making inroads on the smartphone market with the Apple Watch while also hogging space on the iPhone with sleeker professional apps while simultaneously Microsoft has been breaking into (Google-owned) Android's supremacy. Everyone's scrambling for more real estate on our smartphones and planting flags (read, apps) like there's no tomorrow. They're probably right to do so and I reckon we, the end users, won't be much the worse for wear after the dust settles.

But for now, things are hectic and the chaotic buzz around alternative OS's, phones, jailbreaks, bloatware, app-bundling… and so on - well, it can be a bit...

unsettling. Is an iPhone still an iPhone with an Android launcher greeting its first-time user? Thankfully, that doomsday scenario is still a ways off- but I've no doubt the question will arise in due time.

Microsoft has just announced a partnership with Cyanogen, the new up-and-comer on the OS landscape, which was developed by a bunch of Android hackers as an alternative to Google's iron grip on the OS. Microsoft games Android with this new foray into the app ecosystem, which will see its apps - OneNote, Skype, Cortana etc. - come pre-installed and available for use on phones running Cyanogen right out of the box.

Google has been working on developing a way to make the iPhone work with Android wear devices.

That would mean cracking Apple's walled garden and making a companion app available on the App Store.

Furthermore, Microsoft announced that as per a series of deals it struck with a bunch of OEMs (that's tech-speak for Original Equipment Manufacturers), its office apps will also be bundled into their Android devices. With the Cyanogen pact, this play that Bill Gates's company has been rolling out for a few months is well and truly sending its cross-device strategy into high gear.

As the press release states in no uncertain terms, "Cyanogen will integrate and distribute Microsoft's consumer apps and services across core categories, including productivity, messaging, utilities, and cloud-based services." In other words, Microsoft knows full well that getting a sturdier foothold in the market, on this ever more crowded battlefield, is all about partnering up with the competitors of their competitors.

The open-source badge of honor that the Android OS has boasted from day one is making Android ever more able and willing to part ways with Google and its data-collecting apps. Meanwhile, users are, as of now, left to deal with issues like fragmentation and instability that have been plaguing the App Store from the get-go. Will this trend of platform hopping, performed by competitors' core apps and services, serve us or make our lives harder?