back to article Meet the Frenchman masterminding a Google-free Android

Open source had a moral purpose when it was fighting "The Borg", Microsoft, in the 1990s, but then it fell from view. You could say it has found its mojo again, only this time it is about loosening the grip of companies built on ever more intrusive personal data processing: Google and Facebook. One of the biggest but most …

  1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Good luck, he will most certainly need it.

    And I would like to have such a phone, free of all things Google.

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Me too.

      (Looking forward to one day seeing EELO iPhone as well)

      1. no_handle_yet

        Now that is definitely Mr. Blue sky thinking. I'll turn to stone if it ever happens.

        1. Jonathon Desmond

          @no_handle_yet

          Seriously, you gathered a dozen downvotes for working in those references? My sympathies, sad days indeed.

      2. DougS Silver badge

        @macjules

        Looking forward to one day seeing EELO iPhone as well

        Did you really mean to type that? What would be the point of an iPhone running completely different software? OK the hardware is better than Android alternatives in some ways (chiefly CPU performance, and the odd feature that Apple does first like 3D face scanning) but comes up short in others so I don't know why it would be worth doing this - and I say that as an iPhone owner for nine years now.

        Not that it matters, there is no open source driver for Apple's proprietary GPU (among other things) nor any documentation from which someone could write it - and it would be a moving target every year! That's just one of a half dozen intractable issues I see blocking this idea.

        1. TheVogon Silver badge

          Re: @macjules

          "and the odd feature that Apple does first like 3D face scanning"

          Windows phones did that better a few years before Apple did.

    2. jmch Silver badge

      "free of all things Google..."

      The thing is that simply replacing the core Android code isn't enough. You have to provide a privacy-respecting open-source replacement for Google search, email, secure messaging, maps etc etc. Many of these (eg DuckDuckGo, Signal...) already exist, but are either not so well known, or else not up to the standard of the Google app (Maps is one that comes to mind where Google is far ahead of anyone else)

      So, excellent initiative but there are 472 metric fucktonnes of work to be done

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Here Maps works better than Google Maps for me and pops up up GDPR questions.

        1. FlossyThePig

          Here WeGo

          @Dan 55

          ...and pops up up GDPR questions...

          As Here is majority-owned by a consortium of German automotive companies they should be well aware of all things GDPR.

          P.S. "Here Maps" has been rebranded as "Here WeGo".

        2. jaffa99

          For navigation with real-time fraffic, does it really?

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Yes, yes it does.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              When it comes to OpenStreetMap, YMMV. It's essentially a Wikimap. Depending on user input, results can be hit or miss.

        3. handleoclast

          Here Maps

          I just took a quick look around my area.

          The roads are OK. The rest of the detail is minimal, and about half of what little is there is wrong. There are very few POIs (two out of seven pubs, no banks, no pharmacies, no doctor's surgeries, no library, no hotels, no guest houses, and almost no shops). Of the few POIs that are there, one is for a pub that shut 3 years ago and is a hundred yards out of place from where it was.

          Compared to OpenStreetMap of the same area a year ago, Here Maps is crap. Compared to OpenStreetMap of the same area as it is today (after about 8 months of mapping by me) it's so fucking crap as to be ludicrous.

          YMMV.

          1. GIRZiM Bronze badge
            Coat

            Re: Here Maps

            There sites of historical interest.

            (with apologies to Marty Feldman)

      2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        I don't think keeping up the standard is so hard. I'm finding Gmail less and less reliable : it gets stuck, crashes, is harder to use.

        The bar is falling, not rising.

      3. Sherminator

        472 what?

        Hahaha. 472 Metric Fuck tonnes.... I can't wait to use this in some project meeting, but would love to be able to drop it into a document and get away with it!!

        Well played sir!

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I think there’s a project called OpenMaps or something similar which is growing in maturity, could be ported to iOS and Android.

        1. handleoclast

          Open Maps

          @AC

          Were you thinking of OpenStreetMap?

          It's already usable in a browser (you can even switch on its GPS location facility). There are several apps which purport to make it even easier to use, although most of them are commercial offerings which mess with the rendering in order to make themselves distinctive, but may give you downloadable maps for offline use (if you pay). Some offer other half-working, half-baked features too.

          Just point your browser at http://osm.org. First time you use it you get a lot of gumph, but that goes away on subsequent uses (unless you delete the cookies). Search for a location and away you go. Quality of details varies from place to place, depending on whether or not somebody has bothered to add things to the map.

      5. jaffa99

        Perhaps they could sell ads to pay for it all, maybe track the users so the ads they see are somewhat relevant rather than random. Then the users get good quality services for little or no cost.

        I wonder if anyone has thought of that.

        1. Updraft102 Silver badge

          Cute.

          I would much rather have random ads than ones that some algorithm thinks is relevant. They never actually manage to be anything I would want... I can't remember ever seeing a "relevant" ad that wasn't completely irrelevant. Stories abound about people being bombarded with ads for toilet seats for a week after buying a toilet seat on Amazon, as if the most common purchaser of toilet seats is a toilet seat collector, not someone who actually wants to replace the one that broke and get on with life.

          I once saw an ad for Airbus when I had my adblocker off on Youtube (bad idea... how can people stand it?) I watch aircraft videos, so I got an ad for aircraft. Because all people who watch plane videos own airlines, I guess. Let me tell you, if I buy an Airbus, it's gonna be about ten inches long and be made completely of plastic. But it's a relevant ad, I guess, because it matched airplane viewer with airplane seller, right?

          As it stands, there's no way in the bad place that I would ever own a smartphone. If this came to pass, I might at least consider it, but probably it would still be a no. Can't stand the things, or what they've done to the culture.

          1. TheVogon Silver badge

            "I would much rather have random ads than ones that some algorithm thinks is relevant. They never actually manage to be anything I would want... "

            "when I had my adblocker off"

            So maybe you are getting random ads?

            "Because all people who watch plane videos own airlines"

            If you had an interest in aircraft they might also have been trying to make you want to fly in one? And if you normally use an ad blocker they might only have been able to match that interest.

      6. Epobirs

        Maps is a pretty important one. I've pretty much given up on the navigation software that came built-in on my Toyota. It's so rare that it produces a useful result that it gets ignored in favor of the phone on my lap on most occasions. The difference in a system driven by a massive remote infrastructure vs. one that must be completely contained within the car (though it does get traffic data) puts the car's version at a crushing disadvantage. Fifteen years ago, having a navigation system that ran off a laptop and a few GB of data was amazing but now I've come to expect so much more. At a price that may be greater but far less apparent than a simple monetary fee.

      7. Palebushman
        Coat

        Here's a possible 'Fix' for the team.

        "So, excellent initiative but there are 472 metric fucktonnes of work to be done"

        Just on my way out to search for a supply of 472 doses of 'Metric Viagra' then.

      8. find users who cut cat tail

        > Maps is one that comes to mind where Google is far ahead of anyone else

        Sorry, but if you think this, you have never seen a good map -- or at least one that's not utter shit. I often see people first trying to find something using Google's Maps, which is of course prominent on the phone, realising after while that it is useless and switching to a proper map app.

      9. frankieh

        Well sure the OSS versions are not as good. They don't earn money so they don't get the best paid minds working on them.. OSS is at it's best when it's supported by real businesses like Redhat, IBM etc etc.. nobody is making money with duckduckgo and so consequently it's not going to be to the same standard. Same with maps.. if it wasn't a value add for Android, who else would pay for thousands of cars to drive around mapping our roads?

        I'm more worried about things like insurance companies getting court ordered access to our health data from our own devices (via google or apple) and using that data against us. (for example to deny a payout)

    3. IanRobertson

      https://lineage.microg.org/ - works for me - breaks some google play addicted apps which

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Also GNOME-free, please God.

    5. TheVogon Silver badge

      "But someone has to build the damn thing – and it's going to be a mammoth task."

      And Google will likely be told by the EU to a) do exactly that, and / or b) let anyone else who wants to do that have access to GMS APIs too.

      It will undoubtedly mean that we get vast amounts of other vendor crapware on new phones instead of The Borg's, but at least we will probably have a choice of alternatives to install.

    6. ForthIsNotDead

      We had such a phone, free from Google: the Ubuntu phone. And everyone ignored it.

      1. TheVogon Silver badge

        "free from Google: the Ubuntu phone. And everyone ignored it."

        Because it couldn't run Android apps?

      2. Col_Panek

        And Firefox OS.

    7. SuccessCase

      There are a lot of very uninformed comments on here regarding Apple. There is little to no equivalence between Apple and Google when it comes to privacy. Apple have very clearly set out their stall and ensure privacy as far as it is possible to do so. So iMessage, FaceTime etc end-to-end encrypted on the end devices. Apple have no idea of the content. All photo tagging, face recognition, composition of "my year in review" photo montages etc. done again, on the user's device (using amongst other things the 3D graphics processors comparatively massive parallel compute power - for a phone at least). Apple themselves have no records of messages or calls that is unencrypted or accessible by them. Other machine learning (like is used for tagging emails containing content that might be relevant to other apps like Calendar or Contacts) is all implemented using differential privacy. Safari browser blocking the tracking capability of social media "like" buttons, blocking ad tracking and "genericising" the device hardware signature so hardware fingerprinting technologies as currently used by advertising firms cannot be used. iCloud documents for Pages, Numbers, Keynote, all end to end encrypted and only unlocked on the device. Same, importantly, for iCloud backups. Preferences and listening habits for music and recommendations again are all implemented using differential privacy. If you don't know what that is, look it up and you will see it is inimitable to Google's business model.

      Apple Pay: Apple have assiduously avoided deals with retailers and no personal details are available to the retailer. From the retailers perspective it provides no more data about the customer than does cash. Our banks who are supposed to protecting our financial data aren't doing this and are falling over themselves attempting to downgrade Apple pay and promote their own payments solutions which do furnish such data. They are even now disabling USB after 1 minute standby to block hardware passcode bypass technologies used by the government and law enforcement agencies. GDPR: they have jumped all in, and seized the opportunity it presents to underline the difference between their approach and Google's. Their GDPR web pages and the forensic detail they provide their customers about all personal data they do have stored, goes way beyond what their competitors are offering.

      Of course it's not all roses. The problem with doing so much on device is that the solutions are likely to continue, comparatively, to lag Google's solutions in terms of the efficacy of the machine learning results. Also, as the comments on here seem to so amply demonstrate, most people don't actually care that much as to actually check and compare what these company's actual policies are, so at the end of the day, unfortunately I don't think it's going to help Apple that they are taking such a strong line on privacy. People will continue to think "Siri is shit," and comparatively it will always be weaker, and too few will be thinking "but whew, at least my personal data is safe"

    8. panoptiq

      BB10 OS from BlackBerry gave us the freedom we sought, but fell due to App shortages. Damn shame too because it was the most elegant, refined and practical mobile OS out there imho.

  2. 89724102372714581892524I9755670349743096734346773478647852349863592355648544996313855148583659264921

    Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Well, more like "sometime in several years we will celebrate our Independence Day!"

  3. Mage Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Sounds good

    He seems aware of the challenges.

    I hope there is an EU ruling that will help and that India and other countries willing to oppose big USA corporates support it. Likely HTC and Lenovo won't, but TCL might?

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: Sounds good

      It might well be that a EU ruling would force Google to make a viable alternative available.

      On the online shopping case, the EU did not dictate a solution; they just gave a huge fine, and warned that the huge fines would keep coming unless Google found a solution to the issue they had created...

      The way I see it, the Android case is much simpler. People can actually articulate what would be necessary to have a Google-free Android. They just need to tell Google to do it.

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Sounds good

      "He seems aware of the challenges."

      Funnily I got the exact opposite impression. By his own admission he lacks any in-depth insight into either Android in particular or dirty specifics of mobile tech in general, being more of an "IT guy with a list of itches he wants scratched" long-distance-working with a ("the") programmer and an ("the") artist each on different continents. I could be wrong but it comes off awfully much like a naive "you can do ANYTHING if only you put your mind to it" proposition when the actual task at hand is more like "proceed taking flight by jumping off this here cliff, without using any additional implements for assistance, at your earliest convenience, we're waiting...". Forking some existing code and hammering out yet another absolute bare-bones launcher doesn't even begin to address the enormity of what would be required here (first of which would be a sizeable community of active contributors) IMHO...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At its foundation, it will be forked from LineageOS

    So it is basically another custom rom, which is always welcomed. Hopefully, they'll show us what device(s) they are supporting soon.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: At its foundation, it will be forked from LineageOS

      Let's hope they do security right. Most ROMS on XDA and even lineage OS is not that good on security. I am yet to see a bootloader and ROMS that does DM-Verity (signed / secure boot). Let's not even talk about root by default and microg signature spoofing (all bad for security).

      Only exception is Copperhead OS but they have payed only downloads for new devices.

      1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

        Re: At its foundation, it will be forked from LineageOS

        Most ROMS on XDA and even lineage OS is not that good on security.

        Expecting security with an unlocked bootloader which is what you use on most devices to install a custom ROM?

        And dm-verify, er, verifies hashes of block partitions against a vendor's cryptographic key. That means that you can't find anything not from a vendor that passes dm-verify.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: At its foundation, it will be forked from LineageOS

          Well you can lock the bootloader after you load the custom ROM!

          Er, you can pass dm-verity. See what Copperhead OS does on Nexus series (and I assume Pixels as well)

          On a Nexus it shows the yellow alternate bootloader warning, but you can see the signature to see if ROM with a different signer is installed (if you care to remember the hash). If you modify the parition you get a red warning.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: At its foundation, it will be forked from LineageOS

          Er its dm-veriTy. not dm-veriFy If XDA fan boys / custom ROM users can't even get the name right, and understand you can re-lock a boot loader what hope we have of getting properly secured ROM with long term support.

          I guess its back to sh*tty ROMs, with much of AOSP security turned off. Oh look we got this fancy Skin.

          Remember folks you can't have privacy without security.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: At its foundation, it will be forked from LineageOS

        dm-verity requires submitting to Google to get an official key. That's why LineageOS is never signed, now will this without something significant.

      3. Colin Critch

        Re: At its foundation, it will be forked from LineageOS

        Copperhead OS is dead the main dev deleted the update keys. No more updates!

    2. vagabondo

      Re: At its foundation, it will be forked from LineageOS

      My ex-Android phone runs Lineage and uses F-droid as its main repository, with occasional forays to Amazon's app store for IPlayer Radio, etc. DuckDuckGo, Firefox, Chromium, OpenStreetMap, CSipSimple, FreeOIP and an SSH provide the most used functionality. I do not have a Google account.

      The problem for general acceptance is the pressure from government, banks and large corporations to use their closed-source (and hence of dubious trustworthiness) software that is only available via Google or Apple. I do not understand why these organisations cannot make thir stuff available from their own sites, or sign it themselves and make it available from other repositories. Perhaps they are concerned to maintain their deniability shields when their clients money or data goes walkabout. They do this by promoting inherently insecure protocols and then placing the onus for security on the end-user.

      Nothing will change until most legislators are more familiar with STEM subjects than politics and self-promotion.

  5. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    I'm uncertain...

    Basically, this is a very good thing. BUT...I quite like gmail. And the calendar is quite handy. And it's good to use both on phone and desktop. I appreciate there are alternatives, I just can't be faffed to install them and switch. For search I sometimes use Bing, sometimes Google. But I usually get better results in Google!

    And, evil though Google tends to be, lock-in there is as nothing compared to Amazon. I recently needed wanted a new tablet, and succumbed to getting an Amazon Fire HD 10 (decent spec and price). But Jesus wept, talk about lockin! I've managed to kill Alexa (probably) but it looks like a bit of a faff to even get Google Play installed to get some of my more core apps installed (the VPN I pay for, Firefox Focus). I'm still googling to work out if I can completely replace the OS with vanilla Android.

    Let the down-votes commence!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm uncertain...

      "I appreciate there are alternatives, I just can't be faffed to install them and switch"

      You do make sense: Google software is not bad, by any means, and it's understandable many people want to use it. What indeed matter is the lock in. And there is something there: switching is difficult. I mean, media is talking about AI and autonomous cars and rockets to Mars - and at the same time, it's not possible to switch applications easily, let alone phones. It can only be made somewhat easier if you agree to let various companies spy on you by using some cloudy storage, but without it? Forget it.

      Moving data from one app to another, or one phone to another seems to be deliberately a hurdle, and I hope that will change.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let the down-votes commence!

      Unless you buried something nasty in there, why a downvote ?

      Not liking Googles Android strategy doesn't preclude them from making some good shit.

    3. deive

      Re: I'm uncertain...

      No downvote as it is quite hard to do, but for a start don't use bing. It's called bing FFS! https://duckduckgo.com/?q=alternative+search+engines&t=canonical&ia=web

      Also, why does a VPN app require Google Play Services? It shouldn't require your location or push messages or a cloud database or any of the other things that the services offer - perhaps you should look into changing that too. This another way Google are locking Android down - all the apps that use their services.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: I'm uncertain...

        @deive

        Sorry, lack-of-coffee moment. I of course meant duckduckgo, not Bing. But still get better results in Google!

        The VPN problem isn't that the VPN needs access to stuff, but it isn't available in the Amazon store, so I need (I assume, possibly wrongly - I don't do technical wizardry with phones, I stick to webservers) to get Google store installed to grab it.

        1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

          @Pen-y-gors Re: it isn't available in the Amazon store

          Try Yalp Store. Available from F-Droid.

        2. stuartnz

          Re: I'm uncertain...

          " I of course meant duckduckgo, not Bing. But still get better results in Google!" As do I.

          . I use Google's result count feature a lot when trying to ascertain how common a particular word is in a given language. It lets me compare dictionary listings with real world usage, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, and saves me choosing a dictionary entry which was last used 200 years ago in some arcane treatise.

          I really like what duckduckgo is trying to do, but because it lacks a feature I find VERY useful I stick with Google. I'm sure many others feel similarly.

      2. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: I'm uncertain...

        "but for a start don't use bing. It's called bing FFS! https://duckduckgo.com/?q=alternative+search+engines&t=canonical&ia=web"

        But quite amusingly you point at DDG - which sources a lot of it's search data from Bing!

    4. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: I'm uncertain...

      I appreciate there are alternatives, I just can't be faffed to install them and switch.

      And there is the likely insurmountable problem. Knowledgeable techie-types like ElReg readers may go for this, but for "Mom & Pop" this will be just like asking them to run Linux instead of Windows on their laptop. It might be "better", it might do less spying, but at the end of they day the average user wants something that just works, where they can run the same apps as their neighbour/son/mum/friend, and where problems can be fixed by a friend or a high street shop without needing to find a geek with arcane knowledge. Whether we like it or not, the problems that this will solve simply don't matter to the general public. If they did, no-one would use Facebook.

      1. gv
        Happy

        Re: I'm uncertain...

        '... but for "Mom & Pop" this will be just like asking them to run Linux instead of Windows on their laptop.'

        Or maybe like asking them to run Linux on their phones. Oh wait...

    5. HmmmYes Silver badge

      Re: I'm uncertain...

      No. You make valid points.

      I have an Android phone and specific gmail account for it.

      The apps I use most are:

      vlc (not google)

      gmail only for emails related to this gmail account

      whatsapp (not google) - which is great.

      google maps.

      The rest I avoid.

      Id guess all bar whats app could be replaced.

      1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: whatsapp (not google) - which is great.

        Yeah but Facebook tho' Bruv.

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: I'm uncertain...

        Some really nice phones out there, I really like the hardware of the Huawei P20 Pro, unfortunately it's spoiled by its toytown Android OS which make is unacceptable.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: I'm uncertain...

          > Knowledgeable techie-types like ElReg readers may go for this, but for "Mom & Pop" this will be just like asking them to run Linux instead of Windows on their laptop.

          It's worse than that: out if the 'mom and pop' segment, Eelo won't sell to those who have already bought into iOS because it's simpler. And then, other parts of the 'mom and pop' segment will have iPhones because they have read about Googly privacy concerns in newspapers. Nor will Eelo sell to moms and pops who are happy with their Nokia 3310 'for emergencies' thank you very much.

        2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: I'm uncertain...

          I recently got a Huawei mediapad m5, and really hate its dumbed-down iphone-like interface.

          Is that Android 'O' or Huawei's own doing?

          1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

            Re: I'm uncertain...

            Huawei's own doing?

            Unfortunately yes. Fuck Huawei for their attempt at "if it looks like an iPhone, quacks like an iPhone, then it must be an iPhone" with the plebs.

            1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: I'm uncertain...

              Unfortunately yes. Fuck Huawei for their attempt at "if it looks like an iPhone, quacks like an iPhone, then it must be an iPhone" with the plebs.

              Thanks for the reply. That's actually good news, for 2 reasons:

              1) I'm not imagining things in some sort of anti-apple psychosis.

              2) I should be able to put stock android on there.

              Cheers!

      3. Spangle

        Re: I'm uncertain...

        I use no root firewall which blocks, or at least says it blocks, the various google background access.

        Protonmail for email

        Signal for texts

        Orfox for internet with startpage. Better results than duckduckgo

        I cant root it because i also use banking apps. It was that or send in cheques by post...

        So yeah. As little google as possible and you get a log of apps that have tried to connect. I'm not sure how successful it is - but i feel i at least tried!

        1. GIRZiM Bronze badge

          Re: I cant root it because i also use banking apps

          Root phone.

          Install Magisk.

          Use phone.

          Turn off Magisk.

          Restart phone.

          Do your banking.

          Turn Magisk back on.

          Restart phone.

          Use phone.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I cant root it because i also use banking apps

            Apps STILL detect the changes necessary to root and install Magisk, such as installing a custom recovery (which BTW can trip things like Knox fuses), and last I checked it still taints dm-verity checks, which more apps check as well. Google Pay and many banking apps won't work unless the environment is pristine, especially with Marshmallow and up.

            1. GIRZiM Bronze badge

              Re: I cant root it because i also use banking apps

              Dunno. Xposed will certainly trip things but, last I read (a month or so ago), Magisk passes Google Play Store's 'sanity check', so, if it will fool Google, I don't see why it wouldn't fool any other app.

              In a way, I suppose, it's good that those apps would detect a rooted (and potentially compromised) device but it doesn't really make sense in the long run for banks to try to dictate to users how they use their devices; if an app is relying upon the security of the underlying OS then the app itself cannot be considered secure, can it? Otherwise, it wouldn't matter whether the OS were compromised, the app would still be secure.

              I'm sure that someone will work it out eventually; the whole point of Magisk is that it's systemless, so nothing should ever become aware that the device has been rooted in the first place - so it's got to be more of a waiting game than an impossibility really, I should think; everything gets cracked eventually.

              As ever, I'm waiting for whatever firmware upgrades are released with the major OS upgrade on my current device before rooting - don't wanna find myself with half the functionality missing afterwards because I can't download it separately.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I cant root it because i also use banking apps

            “Root phone...1 million steps...Use phone”

            FFS, a real nerds answer. Most people want to simply get on with their lives and use their device as an aid to getting things done more easily, without requiring a degree in computer science, and a million steps to avoid Google or Apple.

            1. GIRZiM Bronze badge
              FAIL

              Re: a real nerds answer

              1. the OP mentioned rooting phones and can, therefore, probably safely be assumed to understand enough to perform the outlined steps and my response was not for 'most people' but for the OP specifically.

              2. If you think "turn off Magisk, reboot, do your stuff, turn Magisk on, reboot" constitutes too many steps for the average person to contend with then perhaps the problem doesn't lie with the 'million' steps but with your innumeracy and the fact that a mobile phone is too complex a device for you to master - El Reg probably isn't the right site for you (it's bit too technical).

              3. Only nerds use the word 'nerd' as a term of abuse; the rest of us don't have the well-deserved inferiority complex to project onto others - so, if you want to disguise the fact that you're a loser, you'd be best advised not to throw it around (not even anonymously).

              4. I flooded your mom's port.

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: a real nerds answer

                "2. If you think "turn off Magisk, reboot, do your stuff, turn Magisk on, reboot" constitutes too many steps for the average person to contend with then perhaps the problem doesn't lie with the 'million' steps but with your innumeracy and the fact that a mobile phone is too complex a device for you to master - El Reg probably isn't the right site for you (it's bit too technical)."

                Don't think in terms of the Power User. Think in terms of Joe Stupid who wants a turnkey JFDI solution and have enough influence they can dictate the phone market on their own, leaving the rest of us in the dust (and in their wake to catch the flak when problems do float up). Let's face it. If you want a phone system that will last beyond a couple years, you need one Joe Stupid will adopt. We Power Users lack the market pull to make them care.

                1. GIRZiM Bronze badge

                  Re: a real nerds answer

                  @ Charles 9

                  I'm not trying to argue that's not the case - sadly, you've hit the nail squarely on the head.

                  But for someone whose stated reason for why they can't root their phone is that certain (mission critical) apps won't work on a rooted phone then a systemless root (a la Magisk) should not be beyond their capacity to implement and my reply was aimed at that person, not Joe Stupid.

                  Ironically, it's Joe Stupid who's more likely to root his phone so he can install 'warez' on it than the kind of person in a position to say "I would, if only my banking apps didn't object."

                  Besides, I'm not convinced Joe Stupid hangs out on El Reg anyway - it is a bit too technical and the humour too geeky to keep him sufficiently entertained to ignore that.

      4. LDS Silver badge
        Facepalm

        whatsapp (not google)

        (not google) --> Facebook....

    6. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: I'm uncertain...

      "Basically, this is a very good thing. BUT...I quite like gmail. And the calendar is quite handy."

      But you can't properly sync your phone calendar or contacts with Outlook which is what many people actually want because of Google's crappy rules, so that will be another thing forcing this open will hopefully fix.

    7. matjaggard

      Re: I'm uncertain...

      Serious lockin. No g.

  6. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Angel

    If this can gain traction...

    ... then it truly would be a victory for open source.

    Come on all you Android fans who keep shouting about how bad Apple and Microsoft are with their walled gardens - time to put your money where your mouths are. If it were completely Google free then I'd buy it - hell, I might even go back into mobile development for it!

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: French!!!!!!

      I'm English, we have a love-hate relationship with the French "Entire World"

      There all fixed .....

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: French!!!!!!

      I also have a love-hate relationship with the French: I love drinking their wine, hate eating their snails!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: French!!!!!!

        hate eating their snails!

        Most snails sold in France are imported, Greece, Turkey & Romania account for ~60% of imports.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: French!!!!!!

      >I'm English

      That's not how you spell twat.

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: French!!!!!!

      I'm English, we have a love-hate relationship with the French.

      Speak for yourself.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: French!!!!!!

      I'm Scottish we have love hate relationship with the English, we love to hate you.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: French!!!!!!

        We like to drink your Whiskey!

    6. cbars

      Re: French!!!!!!

      Ah yes: being part of a group automatically entitles you to be a spokesperson who perfectly represents every member.

      This is why people feel it is acceptable to shout about their opinions, whether it is considered and knowledgeable, or not.

      Subsequently, this is why said people get ridiculed.

      1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

        Re: French!!!!!!

        Ah ... the reassuring voice of reason!

      2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: French!!!!!!

        > This is why people feel it is acceptable to shout about their opinions,

        > whether it is considered and knowledgeable, or not.

        Object!

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: French!!!!!!

      "I'm English, we have a love-hate relationship with the French. I'll not use it."

      That's not what your mother said.

  8. alain williams Silver badge

    Two main hurdles

    The two hurdles will be:

    * device drivers: the GPL that the Linux kernel is under will help

    * the ability to root the device & install another OS. Some vendors will make this hard.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Two main hurdles

      Won't project triple make this easier?

      If so, ironically, googles efforts in seperating the hardware firmware from the Android OS for quicker updates may end up helping the decouplers.

  9. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    He's late to market

    on XDA, there have been many Google free AOSP variations for a good year or two. There are also add-ins so if you must have something, like the Play store, you can add just the bare minimum without the bloatware of Chrome.Gail etc.

    1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

      Re: He's late to market

      I think he wants to build the cloud services too, rather than just the device OS.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: He's late to market

      Your favourite gapps install still has Play Services no matter how tiny/micro/nano.

    3. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: He's late to market

      Last time I looked (admittedly a while ago) at any "Google free" ROMs on XDA it was something like "oh sure, we definitely have a working image for that phone, but you should know that the camera app literally only captures a frame from the camera when you press the single button it has without any other settings, the WiFi chipset driver kinda tends to drop connections oh and forget about any gyro and magnetometer support (and we promise none of the above will get any better any time soon, sorry) but hey nobody uses those anyway, amirite...?" whereupon I nope'd out of there immediately. "Phone actually does all relevant shit" trumps "but privacy!" without contest each and every time, no matter how interested and concerned I may happen to be regarding the latter.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: He's late to market

        But what can they do if Google's putting every new API into Play Services instead of AOSP and not documenting it and AOSP versions of apps are five-year old abandonware?

        On the second point, if AOSP were truly open then it could be updated by developers outside Google, but it can't. So Google leaves them to rot and all work by other developers on improving AOSP apps is fragmented.

  10. StripeyMiata

    I'm posting this from a Google free android phone

    An Amazon Fire Phone (stop laughing, I like it).

    My Dad uses a Nokia X, another Google free Android phone but with Microsoft bits instead.

    1. Douchus McBagg

      just shut up and take my money etc. etc.

      as above.

      and may I add, best of luck for this endeavour! imagine how fast a phone that doesn't have to run monitoring and reporting tasks is going to be - maybe we can then wind processors back to sub 1Ghz with "only" half a gig of ram and get more than a days battery life! craziness!

    2. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: I'm posting this from a Google free android phone

      a Nokia X

      Gaaah! The mention of that awakens my PTSD!

  11. FIA

    Good luck

    This sounds like a laudable goal. Good luck!

    "The recent ZTE incident made us see clearly that no matter how advanced our mobile payment is, without mobile devices, without microchips and operating systems, we can't compete competently,"

    I expect that will be the main issue, as I understand it OEMs are prohibited from making any device running AOSP if they wish to keep their Android licence. This is why Amazon had to turn to relatively small manufacturers for the fire devices.

    Mind you, this was a few years ago now, recent events have probably made OEMs less eager to comply and larger players are starting to realise the control they've ceded so perhaps the time is now.

    Good luck.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Good luck

      Which is precisely the thing that got the DoJ interested in Microsoft all those years ago

      Even if the current US administration don't want to go after $Bn companies, their equivalents in the Eu do.

      And these days the phone market isn't as USA centric as the desktop market was in the 90s

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Good luck

        Why would you need to turn to "comparatively small manufacturers"? The large majority of phones sold in China are Google free, just look at one of the big brands there like Xiaomi or Oppo.

        1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

          Re: Good luck

          Whose devices are flimsy pieces of plastic or whatever, without any parts or support in most countries of the world, and proprietary parts and connections on the board making it difficult to replace broken parts?

          No thanks, sir.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's simple: open STANDARDS

    The only problem I see with this effort is that it may disappears down its own cul-de-sac of "only us" APIs and interfaces.

    If there was an Open Source phone that held, as part of the standard install, apps that talked Open Standards (and by that I don't just mean the accepted IMAP/SMTP pair but also caldav, carddav and webdav) you would have something that was open enough for people to graft their own applications on.

    I know Apple dissing is customary here, but any system running iOS or MacOS does already talk open standards - I don't use iCloud, mainly because I share data between Linux, MacOS and iOS.

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: It's simple: open STANDARDS

      "The good thing with standards is that there's so many you can choose from."

      There have been various Google-free Androids, starting with CyanogenMod. The problem is that to be successful these past years, you had to be fast. Mobile phones have evolved a lot, from the camera tricks to the fingerprint sensors. If your software couldn't keep pace, you disappeared. Lose one season, run out of money.

      I believe that it is simply not possible at the moment for standards to evolve fast enough to keep up with the technology. If you wait for the standard to exist, you're already one year behind the proprietary solutions of the Apples, Googles and WeChats. Then nobody wants your phone, and nobody even wants to build it.

      The big ones are essentially at war with each other for customers. You might be able to raise an army, but if your army makes tactical decisions by committee, there's no way to win.

      There's a glimmer of hope: The pace of evolution seems to be slowing down, with less hardware features being added. If there's a moment of pause, it might be possible for an alternative to catch up. Fingers crossed...

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: It's simple: open STANDARDS

        That's why you need some big company to decide it wants to leave Google behind, and see the value in selling phones without Google (and resisting their own urge to replace Google's data collection with their own)

        1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

          Re: It's simple: open STANDARDS

          And lose the market of people (mom 'n' pop, Joe Bloggs, etc?) who'd wonder where the hell their Search app is or why Maps isn't like what was on their old phone, the one w/ Google Maps?

  13. DenTheMan

    The Trump factor

    Trump has spread understandable fear in Europe so moving away from the US control of the off switch should be classified as priority.

  14. Norman Nescio Silver badge

    Banks

    Given how the banks and other financial institutions have caught on, it might not be possible to run banking apps on non-Googlified (or equivalent) phones. The apps have become pretty sophisticated at detecting rooting and custom ROMS and then refusing to work. For many people, this is a deal-breaker.

    I run a Jolla 1 phone as my daily driver, and it is becoming very noticeable that organisations increasingly assume that you use either a phone running iOS or a Google Play Services Android phone. I'm not entirely comfortable for the European phone 'ecosystem' to be so dependant on that de facto American duopoly. The Russians noticed this a while ago, which is possible reason why they licensed a version of Sailfish OS to use as an official 'Russian' choice. Sailfish is not open source - it is built upon FLOSS but the UI (for example) is proprietary. Jolla give a colour-coded diagram of what is, and is not proprietary in Sailfish OS here (scroll to the bottom of the page, and look under the heading 'Modular System'). The open source bits are available here.

    Apple and Google, working in concert, could inflict some pretty nasty economic damage by disabling phones running their software. It would be a 'nuclear option' of an economic weapon, but neither Russia, nor China want it hanging over their heads. I would expect the EU to have thoughts about that too.

    1. ScissorHands

      Re: Banks

      If that was so important, the moment to act would've been when Nokia sold its soul to Microsoft leaving Maemo (direct ascendant of Sailfish) in a small rowboat (Jolla) to fend for itself. It's amazing that 7 years later we're trying to get out from under Apple and Google's thumb when we could've avoided it in the first place.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Banks

        Sailfish 3 promised toward the end of this year, will hopefully not be dependent on libhybris for as many devices as possible.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Banks

        More to the point, why aren't Nokia (HMD) selling Jolla editions of their phones, or making an easy downloadable flash tool available which changes the OS?

        1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          Re: Banks

          Why would you want to detect rooting ?

          Any app that relies on the OS security to protect itself is insecure by design. The OS can't be trusted, because there's no way to know whether some other malware has found a way under it.

          If you consider that an app can't be built that is only secure on a secure OS, you may well be right (as in the old mantra of 'physical access is game over'), but that doesn't make any difference. There is no such thing as a secure OS, and rooting most certainly isn't a reliable indicator of insecurity.

          If your bank insists on non-rooted phones to run their apps, they are incompetent. Don't use those apps even on non-rooted hardware, let alone rooted.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Re: Banks

            You want to detect rooting because like it or not malware is a lot more likely to be found on a rooted Android phone, since it is easier to install dodgy stuff on it. Just because YOU may be smart about what you install on a rooted phone doesn't mean that's generally true. A lot of people do it to avoid paying for stuff, and it is only a matter of time before those people have some nasty stuff on their phone.

            A keylogger is a pretty good way of stealing someone's banking password, and even if the bank uses two factor authentication it is most likely phone, text or email based which are all easy to overcome if you p0wned someone's phone. If your bank offers a separate token then I suppose it wouldn't matter what crap is running on your phone but not many banks do.

            1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

              Re: Banks

              I do see your point, but then they always say "if you can't use the app, you can still use the browser."

              And as another poster said, if it's that critical, you should never assume the client is secure.

              But anyway, I'm just fed up, and I'm a grumpy old sod!

            2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

              Re: Banks

              @DougS

              You're missing the point. There is, perhaps, a statistical possibility that a rooted phone is more likely to have malware. But it's not certain, and the opposite could also be true (phones more likely to be rooted by people with a clue). I suggest figures, rather than supposition, are desirable here.

              But the real point is : an unrooted phone isn't free of malware. NO phone is guaranteed free of malware. If the app isn't secure when running in a rooted environment then it isn't secure running in an unrooted environment either, and assuming that it is, is just painfully shortsighted.

              The app has to do its own security. Any reduction in security created by the owner giving himself root privs is lost in the noise.

          2. TheVogon Silver badge

            Re: Banks

            "Why would you want to detect rooting ?"

            Because it usually means apps from outside the PlayStore can be installed. Which are more commonly full of malware.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Banks

              Not only that, having the root ability in and of itself is a security risk, kinda like drilling a hole in a bucket. No matter how much you plug it, someone can come along and rip the plug off (like a malware noticing the root and exploiting it to to below the OS layer to install stuff the OS can't detect or remove like a rogue driver). Plus there's a legal and financial incentive. Banks simply can't trust an environment that's not considered pristine: they risk liability if they do. At least if Google vouches for the OS and something happens, the lawyers can pass the buck saying it's Google's fault instead.

            2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

              Re: Banks

              @TheVogon - apps can be installed from outside the playstore anyway - nothing to do with rooting. It's a weird concept, I know, but you are actually allowed to install the software you choose on the device you paid for!

              @Charles9 - 'rooting' doesn't mean allowing any old thing to grab root access. I have "root" on my devices at a unix level. No apps can access that, just like no users can access root on every other unix system out there with "root ability" (i.e. all of them)

              Even the most "consumer" rooting software won't allow an app to access root unless it's specifically granted.... (Yeah, yeah, I know some people click "yes" to everything without reading, but they are the sort of people who'd give their pin over the phone when "their bank" called them.)

        2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: Banks

          Given how the banks and other financial institutions have caught on

          I wouldn't use the phrase "caught on". Whilst I appreciate some people will root their phone because any old app tells them to, and are clueless (On one rooting program, some "security focused individual" *cough* commented that the program must be dodgy because "why the hell would it require camera access to run"? Obviously totally oblivious to what "rooting" means [and presumably the exploit was in the camera related code]), my devices are more secure because I root them, and besides, it's my bloody property... Sod off!

          It pisses me off because they make no such demands on the Microsoft shite that's still floating around.. "Using XP? No problem sir!"

          Any service that tries to restrict my access to my own device gets dumped (netflix so far). End of.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I won't be holding my breath, many have tried and failed.

    A fact that Andrew seems to have conveniently omitted in his usual rush to bash Google is that the only one who seems to be making a go of it is Amazon but that's jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

  16. Dave 126 Silver badge

    One thing Eelo could do...

    ...is to provide a way for developers to publish apps without them being made available for people sideload for free. There's not currently a great incentive for Android app developers to abandon In App Purchases and Ad-Supported business models. Compare this to the Apple App store where more apps are bought outright, and users spend more. This is why many apps are available on iOS first, and some never come to Android.

  17. Stryker007

    While I wish him every luck I can't help but wonder what the world would be like without the great big evil google... we'd have a choice between MS or apple on our phones. So as I'm not a back-stabbing heel I think I'll continue to pay my dues and support google

  18. Pirate Dave
    Pirate

    Android without Google?

    Wouldn't that be as useless as Microsoft Windows without Internet Explorer? Nothing would work, and users would hate the freedom, um, I mean, hate the lack of functionality.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Stop

      Re: Android without Google?

      There is no Android without Google, they wrote it... The guy is clearly a cretin if he doesn't get this...

  19. Adrian Midgley 1

    FLOSS had a moral purpose in 1984 and begore

    And that purpose has not changed.

  20. jaffa99

    I just don't inderstand why people get so worked up about this issue, you're going to see ads so why not see ads that are relevant to you? Personally I'm happy to have 'free' high-quality services like Google navigation and Gmail with the only 'cost' being ads that I never click anyway.

    I always assume those who drip about being 'tracked' are up to no good. Perverts and Criminals probably.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      I assume you're either trolling, or very stupid - either of which means a detailed reply would be wasted on you.

      However, one thing which you may agree with is that it's been known that "tracking" has taken place for years, and people have largely accepted it, for the purpose of targetted ads etc.

      What people are now waking up to is that the ad companies have been taking the piss - in order to be able to extract more money from you, they gather all sort of shit.

      I've proof that at least some, if not many, will:

      1) Grab your unique id, and location, even if you've disabled it (your mac can ne used as a unique id, and your wireless routers mac can be used to locate you, and these can be retrieved on android without any special privileges [up to 5.0 at least] ... despite what google says)

      2) Your real name, date of birth [ so much for anonymous! ]

      3) A list of all your installed apps. (Do you really want everyone to know you use Grindr, if you are in the closet?)

      4) It goes without saying: device model, android version, linux kernel version, patch level, patch date, build date. (why does an ad company need to know when your kernel was patched?)

      .. and generally, just about anything and EVERYTHING they can. Just look at their websites - to compete with each other, they openly brag about all the data they retrieve from you.

      Finally, even if you don't mind *anyone* knowing who you are, where you live, and the fact you play candy crush, buy online from womens clothes stores, and read "The Sun", most peoples response would be "why the fuck is it any of their business?" - hence the reaction you see now. They brought it on themselves.

      1. jaffa99

        Get a grip

        I'm not using Android 5 (or earlier), even if I was I really don't mind if the ad says "Happy Birthday John, your favourite beer is on special offer just for you", how is that intrusive? I don't consider my name or date of birth to be a secret.

        I don't run any apps that point to any strange passtimes or perversions, I'm pretty normal. As I said in my original comment I suspect it's mostly perverts and criminals dripping about being 'tracked', maybe people having affairs too or other dishonest folk, they need to be careful I get it.

        But do you people really think you keep your names and addresses secret? How do you get stuff delivered? How do you rent a car? How do you get a mobile phone? How did you open a bank account? How did you get a credit card? How did you get a job? How many people look at your passport or driving licence, how many hotels have photocopies of those documents? Waaaaaaaaa company A knows what I bought from company B, waaaaaaaaa the sky is falling. Do you realise how ridiculous you sound?

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: Get a grip

          So, "jaffa", what's your real name and address?

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Get a grip

          Yes, we do think we can keep these sensitive details away from people. Amazon knows my address, because they need it to deliver. So does the local takeaway, which means that I can just click it and not have to enter it again. That's fine. However, if I'm running a calculator app, it doesn't need to know where I live, and I have no reason to give it that. If it goes about getting it anyway, there is reason for me to dislike that and take action to deal with that, either by dumping the app, feeding it incorrect information (if I can find out how), or complaining to them.

          I speak Spanish. If I don't want to tell people that, not because it's a problem but because I feel like it, I have the right and ability to do so. You don't get to tell me that I have no right to hide that, because I can if I'd like. Maybe I'm tired of people asking me to translate things for them, or maybe I'm out of practice and have forgotten things, which embarrasses me. Maybe I just think it's none of your business. If you go about finding this out by tracking things I do, I have every right to become annoyed and take action against your tracking. The same applies to google.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Get a grip

            "However, if I'm running a calculator app, it doesn't need to know where I live, and I have no reason to give it that. If it goes about getting it anyway, there is reason for me to dislike that"

            I'd go a step beyond that. If it wants access to something it doesn't need I'd suspect it of being up to no good and the reaction to that is a bit stringer than dislike.

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Get a grip

          "How did you open a bank account? How did you get a credit card?"

          So you have a bank account and a credit card? Have you looked at their T&Cs? Does it say anything about keeping your access credentials secret? Yes?

          No tell us; if your phone allows - encourages even - apps to take information from unrelated bits of the system how do you know one of those apps isn't slurping those credentials when you use them? How do you know it's not aiding abetting your breaking of those contractual obligations?

          You think you've nothing to hide? Wrong!! You've got plenty to hide, not only out of self interest but also because you're contractually obliged to.

        4. GIRZiM Bronze badge

          Re: I'm pretty normal.

          With the emphasis on 'pretty' - even you acknowledge you're not entirely 'normal'.

          Give me access to your phone and, trust me, I'll find something with which to shame you sooner or later; it's just a matter of time before something you consider innocuous can be twisted into a cause celebre and used to turn the masses against you - if you're a paediatrician, it would be the work of but moments to get the illiterate amongst the vigilante paedophile hunters to hound you out of your home (it's happened before).

          Or maybe I'll just install some malware on your phone with my app and have it download embarrassing photos and leave a trail that implicates you - for a 'fee', I can ensure that nobody else learns of it before it's too late (unless I think it'd be funnier to take your money and still drop you in it afterwards that is).

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Big Brother

            Re: I'm pretty normal.

            Give me access to your phone and, trust me, I'll find something with which to shame you sooner or later;

            Well hello, monsieur Richelieu.

            1. GIRZiM Bronze badge

              Re: Well hello, monsieur Richelieu.

              Damn ... rumbled.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "the ad companies have been taking the piss - in order to be able to extract more money from you, they gather all sort of shit."

        The ad companies do not extract more money from you, at least not directly. The advertising industry only sells one product, advertising. They sell it to advertisers. The shit they gather is part of the product. The reason you see the pointless ads for what you bought is that the advertising industry has conned their mugs into believing that you're interested in buying 200 toilet seats and 100 new cars - or at least they've conned them into believing that their analytics indicate that you're in the market for one of these even if you're not.

        They do, however, extract money from you indirectly because that advertising adds to the vendors' costs and all of us, whether we saw the adverts or not, pay the advertising tax.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          the ad companies have been taking the piss - in order to be able to extract more money from you, they gather all sort of shit."

          The ad companies do not extract more money from you, at least not directly.

          Yeah, it was just a bad use of words. I meant as in extract as much value from you to be able to sell on - not extracting money from you.

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Why would you say that I see ads? I don't. Really. Not in my (adblocked) browser, not on my (ad-skipping) TV recorder box, not on (YePpHa ftw!) YouTube, and absolutely definitely not on my rooted phone equipped with AdAway, AFWall+ and XPrivacy but not a single app peddling any ads - it's a deal-breaker at install time.

  21. Lt.Kije

    Data Ownership

    The underlying issue is who owns the data about us.

    Once governments make it clear to these pickpockets that an individual's belongs to the individual the better.

    And no, I don't care a ff that the collection companies spend time and money gathering and collating it. It no more belongs to them than physical assets in the ground belong to the companies who dig it up.

  22. Yugguy

    YES PLEASE

    I'm in.

    I loved my Swift when it had Cyanogen, until they went bust.

    Now I have a Swift 2 which is an epic phone for the cash but is just another google clone.

  23. IT specialist

    Google might drop Android anyway.

    Google will eventually migrate away from Android, and move to Fuschia OS. Then Android will be all yours.

    1. ScissorHands

      Re: Google might drop Android anyway.

      Fuchsia will be Android-compatible and include Play Services. It will NOT have a Linux kernel, therefore removing the last bit of european tech from mobile.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Google might drop Android anyway.

        The lack of "European tech" may or may not be a problem for you, but the lack of Linux drivers for Fuchsia phones will be.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Google might drop Android anyway.

          Phone drivers are never going to be an openly-accessible matter, Linux or no, because those interfaces are Trade Secret Sauce to the chip manufacturers, the market is that cutthroat. That's why they've always been served as blobs.

  24. andy 103
    WTF?

    Pipe dream

    I get really sick of all these people whinging on about tracking, ads, etc.

    Ok - let's imagine none of that was present. Let's say Google didn't exist.

    What replaces the services people use every day like Google Docs, Maps, etc? How much time and effort were involved in creating those? How much did you personally "pay" to use them? Ads are a small price to pay for the convenience that you get, often at a hugely subsidised cost or free of charge.

    This guy - and all these other people whinging on about "privacy" - can you really come up with something better than what we have today, beyond "it doesn't have ads / tracking though"? Grow up.

    1. Spacedinvader
      Happy

      Re: Pipe dream

      Last weeks SftWS

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pipe dream

      Indeed, we are getting ALOT of really neat stuff, try living with out even some of it, (e.g. Google Maps, or Google Search) for just a couple of days, and trying OSM and Bing, and you will see how bad things really are without Google.

      Your best bet is go read the privacy policy, we aware of what you are giving up for all this free stuff, work out what you don't like about it (e.g. Location Tracking) and opt out of it. It really is as simple as that.

      Personally I find Location Tracking really useful, but then I have nothing to hide...

      1. andy 103
        Happy

        Re: Pipe dream

        try living with out even some of it, (e.g. Google Maps ...

        Absolutely! Google Maps is the main example to me of what I was referring to. How many man hours have been put in to creating that? It's extremely naive for someone to think they could just reproduce something to that level - are they going to drive their car around the world and take photos for street view of the entire globe? Didn't think so. And their only counter argument is "oh yes but at least it won't track you or have ads". I don't give a shit, unless you can give me that same functionality without directly charging me! Some people need to start living in the real world and understand the difference between what most people want and the trade-off they're willing to accept.

        See also - Google Docs.

        1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          Re: Pipe dream

          Good thing the people who built Open Street Map weren't as short-sighted as you.

      2. DougS Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Ahem

        Personally I find Location Tracking really useful, but then I have nothing to hide...

        -- Anonymous Coward

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Pipe dream

        "try living with out...Google Maps"

        Google maps is, as far as I'm concerned, not the first choice for mapping. Their actual maps, even at small scale, are just street maps. Ironically it's streetmap.co.uk that has the real Ordnance Survey maps. Oh, and Bing has them too. No Google is not the sole provider of good stuff; in fact it can be the provider of somewhat less good stuff.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: Pipe dream

          As I've said before: To be fair to Google, it's the third party ad companies that are by far the worst.

          1. TheVogon Silver badge

            Re: Pipe dream

            "To be fair to Google, it's the third party ad companies that are by far the worst."

            Which Google permits by preventing easy and effective advert blocking on Android. For instance https://block-this.com/ was removed from the Play store.

            1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

              Re: Pipe dream

              I don't disagree with you. I've also said in the past they are probably better behaving because they are under more scrutiny.

              Never the less, if you want to track the biggest data slurpers, it's not the google apps you should be looking at...

    3. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Pipe dream

      andy 103, television companies have managed perfectly fine to provide a service funded by advertising without knowing everything about you.

      There is a huge difference between "ads" and privacy-evading tracking.

      1. jaffa99

        Re: Pipe dream

        Jamie Jones said " television companies have managed perfectly fine to provide a service funded by advertising without knowing everything about you"

        That would be teletext would it? Are you for real?

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Pipe dream

          No - that would be "video" - you know, moving pictures - like youtube - but on your TV.

          I'm as real as you can get, baby!

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Pipe dream

            Maybe I can help with your questions, as I already avoid most google services.

            Google docs: Use another program. Microsoft has this one they've made in a bunch of different ways. They don't have to track you, because you pay for it. It's called office. Apple has one too. There are also open source ones, which you can have for free. That's my choice, personally.

            Google search: Use another engine. Duckduckgo works OK. So do various others. Google is rather well-liked, and for good reason, but making it out as if google is the only one that works at all is at best misleading.

            Google drive: Use another storage system. There are so many cloud services that can be used that I can't even list a representative sample. I quite like dropbox, if you want true cloud, but there are a lot of options. Also, you could use your own systems using a variety of protocols.

            Google maps: Use another GPS. Google maps is nice, but you don't have to use this. Evidence? I don't. I've used various GPS applications, usually with maps that were made by companies that make the GPS writers pay for them, which means I pay for them. I paid for the set of maps I have, and it really wasn't that much. The applications work rather well. However, there are free GPS apps that don't rely on google to do everything for them. Also, apple and microsoft both have maps applications of their own. Whether they work for you is a different story, but they exist.

            There is nothing that google has that I can't replace with something else. If I don't like google, I can replace their services. So please don't act as if I need to thank google for their selfless creation of this wonderful code. They are asking a price for it, just a price paid using different units, and some of us don't want to pay that price. We pay different prices for some things, go open source for some things, and make our own replacements for other things.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Pipe dream

              "Also, apple and microsoft both have maps applications of their own."

              I don't know about Apple but in the UK Microsoft, at least on the desktop uses the OS which, compared to Google Maps is ... what's the word? ... ah, yes... better.

            2. TheVogon Silver badge

              Re: Pipe dream

              "Google docs: Use another program. Microsoft has this one they've made in a bunch of different ways. They don't have to track you, because you pay for it. It's called office."

              Actually if a web crapp will do then the Microsoft cutdown versions are free!

              https://products.office.com/en-US/office-online/documents-spreadsheets-presentations-office-online

  25. mark l 2 Silver badge

    What I foresee occurring is that the EU will force Google to allow the OEMs to sell phones with Android OS without Gapps installed, but then the OEMs will replace Gapps with a load of their own unremovable apps that take you to their wall garden, give you trial versions you have to pay extra to unlock and app stores with hardly any apps worth downloading but there won't be any reduction in price of handsets. Just look how PCs come with loads of bloatware because the manufactures get paid to pre-install it on the PC

    A large percentage of Android users are probably happy with Gapps on their Android phone, even if the EU thinks otherwise. They had the option to buy other phones then didn't send their data to Google: Windows, Blackberrry, Ubuntu, Meego, FirefoxOS, Amazon etc but these options have all died as people preferred either iOS or Android.

    So good luck with your Google free Android, I hope they do succeed but I fear they will go the same way as many others have.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Not realy sure why I should trust him

    After all, he seems to be having trouble with a couple of points.

    ""I'm not happy because Google has become too big and is tracking us by catching a lot of information about what we do."

    Everything Google does is already entirely optional. You press cancel on your Android phone on the initial startup (or just factory wipe it)., Job done. Don't expect to use Google services however.

    So he clearly has trouble understanding the difference between Android and Google service.

    He also wants to create a "Google-free Android" using source-code written by, hmmm, Google.....

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    App Store

    It's all good but sadly it needs a decent app store setting up - and the controls in place to ensure it doesn't end up with loads of malicious applications.

    The non-Google Play stores have all been a bit hit and miss in my opinion.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: App Store

      Not to mention there's no way to establish a trusted repo outside of Google's without rooting, meaning all the outside stores have to jump extra hoops.

  28. Sherminator

    Nokia for sale---- good price and no google slurping

    I, along with a great deal of other people so it seems, would welcome the return to more simplistic days of Nokia type phones with limited OS capability.

    If I'm brutally honest, I use the following on my android device:

    1. Email

    2. WhatsApp

    3. The phone, to actually make calls. Yes I know, quite radical and all that, but it is a feature I use.

    4. SMS/Text

    I occasionally use:

    1. Banking App

    2. Stock broker App

    3. Google Maps when I have no idea where things are

    All the rest of the pre-bundled/installed shite I can't delete, such as the offerings from Google et al. I never use them and disable the app in settings.

    Maybe I'm just getting old and turning into a Neo Victor Meldrew, but I don't want the entire planet observing my comings and goings via my phone and then selling it onwards. It's about time we had some decent controls on phones.

    I did look at the Granite phones at one stage, but I'm not that paranoid......?

  29. Luke Worm

    Big Data

    Personalised ads, tracking of everything … that’s the details. What we’re talking about is Big Data, all the stuff all the apps collect about us. Here in Europe we’re much more safe compared with the US, where all kinds of data and databases are common merchandising.

    But anyway, I have already supported https://eelo.io in Kickstarter. Now they have a Foundation set up.

    By the way, as an European alternative, try Qwant.com as your search engine. Qwant is made in France, and I have it as default search engine since a year already.

    Qwant Music was announced recently, and Qwant Maps is coming soon …

  30. P.B. Lecavalier

    What about Replicant?

    Not a single mention of Replicant in this article? Replicant is based on Android, minus the non-free components. And that's hardly new, though I never did anything with it other than know it exists (I've the feeling I'm not the only one!).

    The main problem facing its use? Proprietary drivers, what else?! Phones and all SoC devices are very unlike the generic PC x86 boxes, with just about every necessary drivers for the latter already built in the Linux kernel.

    Oh but wait even with Android, drivers are a massive problem. If there's a new version of Android, it seems the drivers need to be ported to it if the phone is to receive an upgrade (How hard is it to recompile sh*t? Is it all written in assembly for specific micro-architectures!?!?). On my computer, I don't need to get new drivers in order to receive... a new version of KDE or whatever I fancy. Conclusion: Android is a pitiful design.

    1. Carney3

      Re: What about Replicant?

      It is bizarre that Replicant was completely ignored in this article. Why re-invent the wheel?

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: What about Replicant?

      The article's about eelo and our interview with its key players – we can do another about Replicant... Thanks for the suggestion.

      C.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lots of comments about Google Maps,,,,

    .....which I really don't understand. A user DOES NOT NEED A GOOGLE ACCOUNT to use Google Maps.....just a browser and an internet connection. Same logic for email...a browser and an internet connection can get you to most (all?) email providers.

    *

    So...if Gäel Duval is successful in creating a fork of the basic Android OS, supplying IP support and supplying a decent GUI shell and a decent browser....won't the BASIC needs of many (most?) smartphone users be met?

    *

    I simply don't understand most of the comments here about "Google lock in"....can someone explain?

    1. jaffa99

      Re: Lots of comments about Google Maps,,,,

      "A user DOES NOT NEED A GOOGLE ACCOUNT to use Google Maps"

      But to make it work for navigation on your phone you do and it's worth every bit of information Google collect. It's better than any sat-nav, better than any system supplied in any car. No contest whatsoever.

      It even keeps a very accurate record of all your journeys, great if you want to remember what you did six months ago for your business mileage claim, not so good if you're a travelling rapist or serial killer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lots of comments about Google Maps,,,,

        Look, stop acting like a 5 year old on daddy's phone and think about what you are saying for 5 minutes.

        You say it doesn't matter if people know your name, address and DOB.

        So why not give us all here that information? Because that would be stupid dumb and irresponsible right?

        Once you grow up, you will realise why even with just your real name and address, someone can get you in enormous trouble with the law, get your DOB, and well, your entire life can be destroyed.

        If you are so ignorant you do not think there is any need to keep your data private, then there is no help for you, and you probably won't make it to your 6th birthday.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lots of comments about Google Maps,,,,

          Look, stop acting like a 5 year old on daddy's phone and think about what you are saying for 5 minutes.

          Posting you private information here for everyone to read is very different to entrusting that information bro one company (Google) to allow them to use the to send directed advertising your way. They obviously don't give your details to anyone else, it's written in back and white in their privacy policy...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lots of comments about Google Maps,,,,

          "Once you grow up, you will realise why even with just your real name and address, someone can get you in enormous trouble with the law, get your DOB, and well, your entire life can be destroyed."

          Thing is, they can do that ALREADY. Everything someone needs to ruin your life is a matter of public record. Why do you think there are so many paranoiac monologues about fearing the people at the DMV, who necessarily know your vital statistics since you MUST fill them out to get a driver's license or even ID card. Against that, how worse could a Hall of Records (which keeps things like birth certificates) be?

          1. GIRZiM Bronze badge

            Re: They obviously don't give your details to anyone else

            it's written in back and white in their privacy policy...

            Absolutely!

            If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear.

            No, seriously: just ignore the rapist who, having hacked in, is using the CCTV cameras to follow your movements around town for months on end—getting to know your routines, where you go, when and when you’re alone, in preparation for when they leave work for that fateful evening.

            Nor do you need to give a moment’s thought to the corrupt cop using them to keep an eye on your home so his criminal friends can break in when you’re away.

            In fact, you probably shouldn’t be worried about the guy with the gambling debts, alimony payments or college fees who works at the company that promised to keep your details secure and not pass them on to third parties either.

            There’s no cause for concern—none at all. You really can believe the platitudes and empty promises, I guarantee it—the fact that 25% of all data breaches are down to insiders is nothing to worry about—what's a 1 in 4 chance of all your data being sold to the highest bidding criminal after all?

            Pffft, it's all a fuss about nothing: criminals don't have day jobs working for legitimate organisations, they all work at night, dressed in black-and-white striped jerseys and carry a sack with the word 'swag' stamped on it.

            And, clearly, only people who are unnecessarily anxious would be at all troubled by the prospect of someone making a mistake (like at Yahoo or Equifax) and all their data being accidentally exposed—after all, what harm could such a huge trove of information on them do if it did fall into the wrong hands anyway?

            Now, repeat after me: only the paranoid and people with something to hide are alarmed by the prospect of spending every second of their life under surveillance by unaccountable individuals with their own agendas and no scruples.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: They obviously don't give your details to anyone else

              And as a fictional journalist once saud, "Paranoids are just people with all the facts."

    2. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Lots of comments about Google Maps,,,,

      "won't the BASIC needs of many (most?) smartphone users be met?"

      Well no because you have to root the phone to do that and many apps like banking and Samsung pay will then no longer work. For most users to be happy there should be a requirement that all crapware can be uninstalled not just Google's.

      Unfortunately that's not the focus here and Google will likely be forced to allow OEMs to install what they like, and make Google apps optional. What this will almost certainly mean is instead of just Google's crapware, you will get a whole selection of crud from anyone that will pay for it. Rather like a Dell PC!

  32. auntybellum

    I have a Xiaomi phone that's already Google free. I run a Lineage OS on it with no trace of Google at all What's the problem? There are plenty of open source Android apks available for all manner of functionality.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      There isn't a problem with your setup. The problem is that I can't get it. I have had a few android devices, and I'd have loved for all of them to be google free. That didn't happen.

      First, many devices never get support from a third-party ROM. Unless you buy the flagships, you probably only have a fifty-fifty chance of getting something. I don't want to buy the flagships because they cost a ridiculous amount for features I don't need (if my camera has five megapixels, that's enough for the one photo I take in a year) and lack others I'd like (I have a few applications I've written that like the extra storage of an SD card). I can get what I want in a much cheaper android device, but that device probably won't get a non-google ROM customized for it. It definitely wouldn't have been running ubuntu touch or firefox OS when those were still things, explaining why, as much as I wanted to try them, I never got the chance. Some of them can't even be rooted by things available online, or can be rooted by something that only looks extremely dodgy and I'm not sure whether to trust it or not.

      Then, even if there is such a ROM, the process for installing it always looks like 1. Root device (no instructions, try to find the least dodgy thing) 2. Log into a shell with ADB 3. Push all of these files to some system directory 4. Run this installation script with these fifteen parameters and wait. And yet, those scripts don't seem to be very reliable. When a shell error happens in the middle of a script, but not one that got handled with an error message, I have to wonder whether I should bother to try to fix the script and/or whatever it has been calling, or give it a miss altogether. Oh, and by the way, I am also wondering whether the half-completed script may have bricked my phone or not.

      I'm all for more non-google experiments, but I don't get the idea that these people have considered these problems. They just seem to say that they'd like something, so they're going to go code for a bit. I've said that before, but without actually thinking it through, the results were never good. You have to plan, design, and poke holes in things before you can write a good system. I'm hoping that this group has done that. I doubt they have.

      1. GIRZiM Bronze badge

        Re: I don't want to buy the flagships

        @ doublelayer

        The Moto G range are the best bang for the buck you'll get if you don't want to spend shedloads of money but want a decent device:

        90% of the functionality/performance of a flagship device.

        Come with all but stock Android (Docs/Sheets/Outlook + some genuinely useful optional extra features).

        Have unlockable bootloaders.

        And as long as you get the 'Plus' model there are ROMs for them.

        I'm not saying that they suffer from none of the problems you outline when the time comes to consider an alternative ROM but you can get LineageOS as long as you get a 'Plus' and so eke out a bit more life from your phone before it's a security colander or simply breaks down completely.

  33. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    not sure if this is a good thing or not but

    from the picture, Mssr. Duval could easily pass for a third Sklar brother

  34. JohnG

    LineageOS

    Probably best to start with LineageOS (forked from Cyanogen) and talk with the folk developing it. Then there's XDA Developers.

  35. jaffa99

    I guess if you don't like it you shouldn't use it, but Android without Google will just be a useless OS with no market share and poor functionality. I imagine the same people post on Windows PC stories suggesting people adopt Linux on their PC's - a sure way to make a PC almost useless.

    Frankly I see these 'we're being tracked' stories all the time and it comes down to the same thing, basement dwelling, tin-foil-hat wearing nobodys imagining their lives are of interest to others. But you're not that interesting (nor am I) the idea that anyone is looking at you as an individual is a fantasy and frankly it's pathetic.

    I still think most people dripping about the issue are worried about their habits being recorded because they're illegal.

    1. GIRZiM Bronze badge

      I still think most people dripping about the issue are worried about their habits being recorded because they're illegal.

      So you think that people who live in countries where homosexuality is illegal should just stop being gay then - after all, only bad people have anything to hide, right?

      And, naturally, in places (like Northern Ireland) where abortion is illegal, rape victims are criminals if they get an abortion - so they should just drop out of education and have the unwanted baby rather than keep their communications with the abortionist secret, right?

      In fact, since only criminals and perverts are concerned about privacy, why don't we just get our governments to develop a mobile version of Red Star Linux for all our phones? Then nobody would be able to hide anything and the problem would go away, wouldn't it?

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Linux

      I imagine the same people post on Windows PC stories suggesting people adopt Linux on their PC's - a sure way to make a PC almost useless.

      1998 called, it wants that argument back.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "...useless OS with no market share..."

      It'll still be Android and should run all Android apps. The fault lies at the app-developers. They should build their apps less google-services dependent.

      "I still think most people dripping about the issue are worried about their habits being recorded because they're illegal."

      It's my belief, as a paranoiac, that everybody has something to hide. No matter how insignificant.

  36. miberg

    You are solving non existing problem

    Some people always have to fight something. Even if the problem does not exist. In your case you want to fight Android because there is too much Google in it. But this is why Abdroid is so great. Beacause there is so much Google in it. I love Android and love Google serveces. To the point i cant leave without them. Google spying on me to sell me ads? So what??? Im not even 1% worried. They deserve it. The give me wonderful products built by thousands developers just for the price of collecting my ads preferences. Not a big price. So your fight is rediculous and your OS will be non existent or very marginal at best. This is my opinion. Because your are solving non exixtent problem and fighting the non existent enemy.

    1. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Re: You are solving non existing problem

      To the point i cant leave without them.

      And we were all so hoping you would!

  37. PNGuinn
    Childcatcher

    It needs a catchy name ....

    A new os for the paranoid.

    It needs a friendly, catchy name.

    Easy to remember, easy to pronounce.

    Preferably 2 syllables.

    A human sounding name, like Marvin?

    >> Won't someone think of the diodes?

    1. Sierpinski

      Re: It needs a catchy name ....

      While H2G2 is a good source for a name, I rather suggest a name from a Heinlein source instead. Also 2 syllables, how about the "Holmes Five". This would make it the successor of Mike, the Holmes Four, from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Just be careful using it to make automated payments to janitors, that can lead to all sorts of funny business.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This can only work when a few things happen

    1) An alternative for Google Drive is made available, which allows users to use it as excess cloud storage, and back up the phone. It must be widely supported within most of the more popular apps e.g. Whatsapp.

    2) App developers make their apks available on the official sites for sideloading, and/or an alternative to the Google Play Store redirects users to those sites. Those app developers need to be financially incentivised to do that. Xiaomi (and maybe Samsung) are doing something like that, but this alternative 'store' or 'app repository' must not be exclusive to any particular phone manufacturer.

    3) Users who had done microtransactions e.g. purchasing stickers on a chat app, or an upgraded feature in a game, need to be able to carry over their transaction/subscription history outside of the Google Play Store.

    4) Some more useful Google apps e.g. Maps and Hangouts need to be officially available outside the Google Play Store... not sure if Google will even allow this. The most you can do is to sideload the apks from a warez site, but that has inherent risks.

    ----

    Otherwise it'll be nothing more than a quaint project but never gaining traction.

  39. Claverhouse Bronze badge

    Mistakes The Veriest Tyro In Crime Would Avoid...

    "We are using compatibility as a club to make [OEMs] do things we want," one Google executive famously wrote.

    Just as with Microsoft memos, and Mrs. Clinton, I really have no idea why a certain sort of people carefully put on record things they really don't want on record, just like bloody Bond villains.

    Probably with their tongues sticking out sideways as they carefully pen out the letters.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm just amazed to see a Frenchman fighting!

    Guess at some point we will need some stout British men to save his a$$, and some Americans arriving late but bringing shiploads of men with high explosive party favors. Wait... what were we talking about again?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm just amazed to see a Frenchman fighting!

      The Brits opened to door to all this shit... remember Cambridge Analytica (now called Emerdata)

  41. OffBeatMammal
    Big Brother

    Amazon anyone?

    while their Fire Phone was pretty much DOA, people forget that Amazon have a pretty solid, Google free fork of Android already. The Fire Phone, tablets and FireTV platforms are all ASOP based but largely replaced the GMS pieces with their own store and services (with APIs that over the years have got a lot closer to their Google equivalents).

    the challenge will be getting OEMs and chipmakers to work on delivering/integrating with their BSP so the OS layer can be dropped onto devices (perhaps the work Google is doing with "P" to decouple the OS from the firmware where possible might help speed this up...)

    now, not saying Amazon are a better path to tread than working with Google, but it would be interesting to see if these projects could play nice and get further together than bifurcating all over the place.

  42. Cavehomme_ Bronze badge

    No value in privacy

    The great unwashed simply don’t care about their privacy, in fact they are self-obsessed narcissists who WANT everyone to know what they are doing, with whom, in intimate details. Privacy is a concept they simply cannot undertstand, until someone empties their bank account or steal their identity.

    Selling privacy to them is like pissing into the wind. Even Apple will sooner or later cave into the commercial pressures of releasing all that user data, sadly.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: No value in privacy

      Even then, the theft will probably turn out to be either an inside job or revenge plot: both of which were possible before the Internet.

  43. J J Carter Silver badge
    Windows

    Hmm

    This is going to be as successful as Linux replacing Windows on the desktop.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      I mean, if a big, seriously-Windows-paranoid company like Valve can't get people (users and developers) to seriously jump away from Windows, what chance does a small ragtag team have of talking Joe Stupid into stepping away from Android and all it provides?

      1. GIRZiM Bronze badge

        Re: Hmm

        Although security through obscurity is the weakest form there is, security through <lots of other things> and obscurity isn't a bad idea.

        Cavehomme_ is right, we aren't going to convert the masses no matter what other options we present them with - if we were then Linux would already be the world's penguin emperor.

        But, for those of us who aren't satisfied with what's currently available, maybe a platform that doesn't offer a sufficiently attractive market for crooks and dataslurpers to bother with is just what we need - whilst they're focussing on Android/Fuchsia/iOS, they aren't troubling those of us running Cyanogen/LineageOS, Replicant, Sailfish, Eelo, some-custom-ROM.

    2. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      This is going to be as successful as Linux replacing Windows on the desktop.

      It already has on the one I am using to read your message. That's enough for me. There is enough of an ecosystem to make it work for me, and while having more software developed for Linux would be great, there's already enough to make it a fully viable alternative to Windows, for me at least. It's up to other people if they want to stop being monetized on an OS they already paid for while they are and force-fed updates of subpar quality and all of the other bad things that come along with Windows 10.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        OK, wanna play Overwatch with the big boys? Last I checked, Battle.net still bans WINE users, Overwatch separates by platform, and the big leagues are PC-ONLY, so what options does that leave you, especially if you're a professional gamer.

        1. conscience

          Re: Hmm

          @Charles9

          I don't know where you get your information from, but that is untrue. Battle.net runs just fine on Wine on Linux, and no, you don't get banned for just using Wine. Also, they never intended to ban Wine users it was a mistake they admitted to and fixed. It is true that a few users were temporarily banned when other software was detected that was initially assumed to be some sort of cheating, but once they realised it was Wine and no cheating was happening they rectified that, changed their detection systems so Wine no longer triggered a ban and unbanned the unlucky few gamers that had been caught out.

          Updraft is spot on, there is more than enough of an ecosystem on desktop Linux to make it a viable alternative to Windows 10 - even with gaming. There are more native ports all the time, for example Feral have done some impressive ports such as Tomb Raider, Mad Max, Dirt Rally, Hitman, and others, and they're not the only ones releasing AAA games on Linux. Even the Windows version of Steam runs fine on Linux using Wine making many of the 'Windows only' games accessible. Just because a title isn't officially supported it doesn't mean it won't run. I have GTA 4 installed right now and it runs perfectly well from my Linux desktop.

          It's been a long time coming perhaps, but Windows isn't needed for anything anymore. Whatever it is you want to do, be it basic browsing and email, watching videos or playing games, you can do it all on your phone, tablet, Linux or Mac desktop, Playstation etc. and all better than on Windows 10. Windows tries so hard to monetise users these days that it has the fans spinning faster on an idle desktop than Linux does when a game is running with the graphics set to the highest settings on a 4K monitor.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Hmm

            Still looks too much like afterthoughts. Where are the professional endorsements, especially in places like South Korea where this stuff is Serious Business? Where's Valve and their supposed Steam Machines? Let's see professional gaming companies put their money where their mouth is and give Microsoft the finger by putting Linux games FIRST (if not ONLY).

            1. conscience
              FAIL

              Re: Hmm

              What after-thoughts? And WTF do endorsements and pro gamers have to do with anything? Personally, I have better things to do than watch others game, don't you? Each to their own, of course.

              There is no 'must have' platform anymore, each user has a viable choice of whatever they prefer. It's a good job too, as Windows never sucked as bad.

  44. Manu T

    Amazing how these fools that only want their share of being famous seem to forget that we HAD out google-free platforms. There was Symbian (which once was open source too), there's Sailfish OS and ironically they're both European too!

    But you idiots didn't want them! And you're crying over Google? Oh please!

  45. Chands

    "I'm not happy because Google has become too big and is tracking us by catching a lot of information about what we do. They want to know us as much as possible to sell advertising,"

    I have always comfortably sit in the camp of, fine take my data, make use of it, and I do reap benefits. I have nothing to hide.

    Intelligent, learning systems require data, what Duval and a lot of others want is privacy; No keep away from data, I don't want to know what I'm doing. Fine .. go ahead a live in a black hole. OMG whats this wizardy of paper !! Ink is the devils bloods. I shall continue to use my Chisel and Stone !!

    Err, yeah, so that's like Google's business model ? Google makes money from advertising. That's not new, i think they've been doing that for quite some time i think.

    Apple makes money from hardware (over priced to most minds).

    Maybe Google should stop mining data for ads and give Google Android for free. Because they could always grow the money on trees.

    Maybe Apple should be lambasted for making money from hardware. We should open source free hardware !!

    Everyone wants everything for free these days :/

    Maybe Duval could ask the army of Google Android developers to work for free ?

  46. Selden

    While I am, in general, a fan of most things Google, and I generally dislike Android, this is a welcome development. Bonne chance Gäel Duval!

  47. panoptiq

    Just Bring back BlackBerry 10

    BB10 solved lots of problems; actually all Google related problems. Oh well.

  48. Mike01Hu

    Yes

    A life free from Gopple, I can but dream!

  49. xanda
    Go

    And about time too...

    This is indeed a superlative challenge and one that will need as much luck as it does skill & money in order to achieve.

    Many of the posts here are nay-sayers and this, it has to be said, is not without merit given the track record of similar endeavours. Considering Linux on the desktop, CyanogenMod/Lineage and - dare we say it - perhaps ReactOS too, the performance record is patchy at best with the jury out still on the more robust efforts.

    Smaller projects have also fared just as badly and frequently descend into a cauldron of self-indulgence and/or an overtly hostile atmosphere.

    Sadly the software development fraternity, whether it be open/closed/free/commercial has left a lot to be desired in terms of performance and longevity with the result being a lack of confidence in the very audience it needs the most: its users/customers.

    Yet at the same time we really hope something comes of eelo.

    Android in its current incarnation should never have happened in the first place and we await eelo with great interest.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: And about time too...

      While I'd really like an open source, everything free, no slurpage system that takes the world by storm, I know that won't be happening. I'd be very satisfied if we could have such a system that is at the level of linux on the desktop. Sure, people in general aren't using it, and remain open to the many problems with the current players, but it is a thing that can do most of the things people want to do, can be installed on most relevant hardware, etc. If we had something that could live comfortably on phones, could be installed on them without fighting them, and had access to the services we need, I would be thrilled. Most things would not need their own applications, because their websites will do most of that. However, we will need apps for the standard videochat and cloud storage software to complement the apps that do more standard on-device things (without a good mail client, contacts manager, calendar, and phone/SMS client, there is no chance).

      I have gotten as close as I will probably get to this with a blank android system (no google play apps if I can manage it, firefox as browser, all apps installed from fdroid). I'm sure there's a lot I probably don't want to know about in there, but I don't have a way to get any closer.

  50. RobertsonCR7
    Thumb Up

    Ohhhh yess... things are going to get lovely for us android lovers....

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