In 2018, Gaël Duval created an operating system not based on Google services. 4 years later, the operating system comes out of its beta version to offer a V1 that emphasizes privacy and control of personal data.
e/OS, what is it?
/e/OS is a French alternative operating system created by Gaël Duval. Its first version dates from 2018, so it is very recent. This system is open-source It is based on Android, but it does not integrate Google Mobile Services, the famous GMS that Huawei has been missing for 3 years. The ambition of /e/ is to offer an operating system that respects privacy, that is, that does not incorporate any tracker, unlike Android or iOS. /e/OS is developed by a non-profit organization, and not by a company comparable to GAFAM, and therefore does not seek to profit from the collection of your data.
There are several ways to access /e/OS on a smartphone. It is possible to purchase a Murena mobile, the range of smartphones equipped with this operating system by default. There are a handful of them and the /e/ Foundation is a partner of manufacturers like Samsung or Fairphone. However, if you are equipped with another terminal, you can install the operating system by hand, using an installer, but few models are compatible, or simply by downloading the package. In the spring of 2022, the operating system is based on Android 11 and finally signs its release from beta, marking the arrival of /e/OS V1.
On the main lines
The operating system /e/ is “unGoogled”. Therefore, it does not integrate GMS, and although it is based on Android, Google does not intervene in the phone. As a result, /e/OS offers its applications as an alternative to Mountain View. Among them, is an application store, a navigation app, or even a browser that, by default, Google does not offer. For geolocation services, /e/ goes through Mozilla. As the foundation’s manifesto says: “Keeping your data private does not mean giving up your digital”. If/e/OS adopts its Store, the latter still allows you to download your favorite applications. Much of what can be found in the Play Store is available, although sometimes you will have to search a lot to find an application. For example “Facebook” does not appear in the list when we write the name in the search bar; when typing “Meta”, the social network application appears, but not in the first results and, above all, after Messenger (Meta’s messenger). Therefore, it will be cunning, but it must be recognized that /e/OS gives access to a good number of applications and is still quite complete, even without Google.
What does /e/OS v1 offer?
- As a good protector of privacy, the operating system allows you to track all the data collected by third parties, which can be seen in particular in its alternative portal, called App Lounge. The store assigns each app a privacy rating of 10, which is automatically calculated from the permissions and trackers detected within the title. Below this note, a description under the heading “Sensitivity Analysis” allows you to check the permissions required by the app, as well as the various trackers are hidden there.
If Murena desires to offer almost the same Android experience without all its drawbacks, the result is not the same. The location that goes through Mozilla is a bit more capricious than the one used by GMS. The same goes for the App Lounge, which houses a good part of the Play Store applications, but whose compatibility (for some) is a bit risky. Small things when taken separately, but when added up can quickly become overwhelming.
The photos app is still slow to run. What we found during our OS test on a Redmi Note 8T sadly still applies today. The trigger takes time to react, as does the button to change optics. Also, what you see on the screen appears blurry and of very low quality. Which, thankfully, isn’t the case when looking at the photo once it’s captured.
If you are a regular user of /e/OS and would like to contribute to this article, provide suggestions, clarifications, or corrections, feel free to contact us in the comments.
#eOS #mobile #interface #Murena #Foundation