Murena One Phone Tries Android w/o Google
Can you have all the apps and benefits of Android without the surveillance?
Google collects a lot of data about you in exchange fro the free operating system that runs on the vast majority of phones int he world. Some people don’t mind or even consider ti a fair trade for the high functionality. But many would prefer not to become the product. Several efforts have been made to take Android, an open source operatign system, and create an excellent phone that does not involve Google. Mozilla tried. Ubuntu tried. And Huawei was forced to try. So far, none have succeded.
What is Murena?
Murena makes /e/OS, a phone operating system based on Android that doesn't use google service for apps.
Murena One X2 is the company's first smart phone running /e/OS.
It's a mid-range piece of hardware. 6.53-inch 1080x2242 screen, 128 GB of storage and a microSD slot along with a 4200mAh battery and an 8-core MediaTek processor. It's an LTE phone with dual Sim slots. And it also has a 48-megapixel main sensor on the rear camera and 25-mgeapixels on the front selfie cameras. Not flagship but not bad.
But let's get back to the software and the no Google services part of it.
Android Without Google - /e/OS
Murena's Gael Duval (founder of Mandrake Linux) started work on /e/OS in 2017. It is a forked version of the Android 10 version of LineageOS which is a fork of the old CyanogenMod project. (BTW, LineageOS is available with Android 12, but /e/OS has not caught up yet.)
It uses an open source project called MicroG to replace Google's own libraries with clones that do not have hooks into Google services. That means it can provide Google Play, Maps, Geolocation and Messaging services without sending telemetry to Google.
It also replaces Android's DNS and Network Time Protocol with versions that don't use Google servers.
It has its own messaging app, browser, maps (powered by Mozilla Location Service and OpenStreetMap), email, calendar, file storage system, and contacts. It also has apps for notes, tasks, music and voice recording. It does not have a virtual assistant yet but one called Elivia is in the works.
It uses its own Murena Cloud for cloud storage for your email, calendar, contacts an online drive and productivity suite powered by the open source OnlyOffice project. 1GB of storage is free and20 GBs costs 20 euros a year.
So How Does it Do Apps?
Murena's "App Lounge" uses the Google Play store to get apps and then adds privacy ratings to the descriptions. You can either log in with a Google account or browse anonymously. But either way apps come from Google's Play Store and use Google Pay. Murena says its system anonymizes your data unless the app requires payment. The App Lounge also includes open source apps from F-Droid and progressive web apps not found in the Google Play Store.
The phone also offers "Advanced Privacy which blocks trackers from apps and uses a VPN to mask location.
The Murena One costs $369 and launches in June in Canada, Switzerland Europe, UK and US.