I just reread the above article for the second time, this time more carefully. Then I went back and read the older posts about this project that are linked to in the article, and I strongly suggest you read all of them too.
I think this is on the right track.
- /e/ is a fork of Android, already well established in mobile.
- They are including making their own private cloud services (mail, calendar, storage, maps, notes, etc.) This is key, because they recognize that it does little good to make a secure OS and hardware if all the services you use are still tracking you. That is not private. By providing these services they can make a more seamless, one login, operation that mainstream users are accustomed too. With cloud services it also makes you data available on your PC and other devices.
- They are developing their own app store/repository (like Play) so that there will be a lot of free apps available. I have a caution here: I expect Google will quietly maneuver to pressure Android app designers to make their apps exclusive on Google’s Play store and freeze out /e/. But even so, there will likely be a lot of apps available.
- I have learned by my own experience, that for many things you don’t really need a smartphone app: I actually prefer Facebook and Twitter on my phone browser better than the apps. Less chance to spy on you if you are not using the app. But this makes the choice of default browser a key decision – it had better be good.
- They are making progress at a much faster pace than I anticipated. This is very good news.
- They fully intend to find an OEM, manufacture and sell new phones with this /e/ OS fully installed. This is vital for mainstream adoption.
How does this compare to the efforts of the Linux camp for the Librem 5?
I like the Librem 5 approach to hardware. I like Linux being adapted to smartphones. There are two weaknesses that the Librem does not address:
- Those cloud services we have been talking about. You can have the most secure phone in the world but if you are still using Gmail, Calendar, Dropbox and Yahoo, than your data can be scanned and your privacy is compromised.
- Very few apps. The Librem will ship with bare bones apps (browser, email, messaging, calendar, notes). You will be dependent on the browser for web apps. Unless the Linux community jumps in and starts developing Linux phone apps quickly this will hinder mainstream adoption. This could make or break the Librem.
That said, I want both the Librem 5 and /e/ to succeed. Linux needs to get off their ass and get into the mobile OS market, plus, it would be great to have 2 choices in privacy smartphones. Friendly competition is good.
This was also posted to