Should you de-Google your Fairphone?
Has this ever happened to you? You’re discussing the new Marvel movie that’s coming out soon with a couple of friends. A few days later, you suddenly start seeing ads for movie tickets for opening night, Marvel merch, games, video games and more. Congratulations! Your data’s being monitored.
Is data monitoring a bad thing? Well, not so much if it helped you snag a great deal on your next hotel stay. But when behemoths like Meta and Google have access to enough data to build a pretty detailed, real-time profile of you, there is this eerie feeling of a band of Big Tech Bros watching over you, no matter how benevolent they seem. Think about it. They know where you have been going, who you have been talking to, what you have been spending on, what sites and apps you like using.
Data monitoring is not a new thing. Ever since the dawn of the internet and internet browsers, we have been allowing companies and services to keep an eye on what we do in the online world. If you have ever come across words like cookies and trackers in your online journey, you’ve encountered an instance of data monitoring. Websites use them to remember your browsing experience, so the next time you visit, you can pick up right where you left off. Ad services use this data to deliver ads based on your interests, your location, your age, your gender, and more. And with Google baked into Android, your phone can potentially be watching you all the time.
Of course, there’s no denying that our lives have changed for the more convenient (better or worse is relative) thanks to services like Google Search and YouTube and so on. However, for the longest time, most of us assumed there is no other option, at least not one that is practical and usable on a daily basis. That’s where /e/OS comes in.
What is /e/ OS?
/e/OS is an open source operating system created in 2017, building off previously existing Android Open Source Projects, and does not use Google. For anything. Unless you want it to.
Instead of Android’s standard Google suite of basic apps, it has a curated collection of open-source alternatives for mail, calendar, and messaging. It also allows you to download more apps from Play Store alternatives like F-Droid. The /e/OS Application Installer makes it easy for you to gauge the privacy factor of an app with easy-to-read scores, telling you what permissions the app needs or how many trackers there are in total and what they are.
- It’s all about privacy
Choose /e/ OS, and you’re opting for a system that minimizes data exposure to Google and third parties. For those keen on mobile privacy, this OS is a top contender.
- It’s open-source
Transparency is key in the tech world. Being open-source, /e/ OS invites users to delve into its code, ensuring community-backed improvements and trustworthiness.
- Pre-installed apps that are privacy-first
No need to hunt for privacy-safe apps; /e/ OS delivers them pre-installed, simplifying your transition and ensuring your data’s protection.
- Wide compatibility
One of the OS’s strengths is its compatibility with various smartphones, making it an attractive choice for those looking to rejuvenate older devices.
- Secure Cloud Services
/e/OS comes with a suite of privacy-focused cloud services, from email to calendars, all under one roof.
If you do decide to make the switch to /e/OS, there are some things you need to be prepared for. You will be navigating the new; figuring out where everything is might take a bit, depending on your level of tech literacy. It’s also a niche OS compared to iOS and Android, which means there might be the occasional delay in issue resolutions and updates. You should also ensure your essential Android apps (ones that do not have /e/ OS equivalents) are compatible with /e/OS as well. The focus of /e/OS is privacy, which might come at the expense of certain features. Severing ties with the Google ecosystem isn’t easy, especially if you have a Gmail account. If you use your Google account to sign in to your apps, you will be opening up the device to Google’s servers. However, we still feel the end user should have the option to choose. That is true ownership.
“Since the inception of /e/ Foundation and /e/OS, we realized that many of our users were not only concerned about their data privacy and limiting unnecessary data streams, they also wanted hardware that would last longer and be repairable.”
– Gaël Duval, /e/OS creator and e Foundation founder
Fairphone’s association with the privacy-focused operating system goes back to 2020, when we announced an /e/OS option for the Fairphone 3. At the time, we were able to sit down with the /e/OS creator, Gaël Duval. From the get-go, Gaël has been about giving power back to the end-user. Read the full article here. You can also head over to our webshop and read more about the Fairphone 4 with /e/OS.