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I completely disagree with the title. The fact that "telephony" can be an app on the phone is a WONDERFUL thing. It means that the author of this article has a choice, as opposed to NOT having a choice.



I'll be Mr. Reasonable Compromise. It's both a wonderful thing and a risk. Which of those two it becomes depends on the entire ecosystem around installable apps, trust and verification.

I've never had a problem with 3rd party dialers on Android. But I can smell a scam and I'm technically literate.

To the best of my knowledge there's never been a major dialler related security mishap. In fact much of the panic about Android's "malware ridden ecosystem" seems overblown. Nobody I know has ever had an issue to the best of my knowledge.

But it's definitely a possibility and it's highly probable that eventually something bad will happen on a large scale without some better controls - albeit hopefully not the type that Apple imposes. Cost vs benefit and all that.


More choice always means more responsibility. You could argue against democracy with the same idea - what happens if the voters choose someone not worthy? A lunatic or someone downright malicious?


> Nobody I know has ever had an issue to the best of my knowledge.

Well, pack it in, fellas. We're done here. :D


But if you read the article, it's all about not having a choice. Gosh, HN can be so ideological...


I would have loved to read the article but it's currently down.


The tl;dr is the manufacturer of OP's phone just used some random app as the dialer. The app was stealing all of OPs data and selling it to who knows who. They admit to doing this in the privacy policy of the app. But as it was installed by default, OP never agreed to it. And he had a lot of trouble removing it from his phone and finding a replacement.

This is the problem with choice. All your choices are secretly malicious and have incentives to violate your privacy. Remember those flashlight apps that ran in the background consuming CPU/data and stole users' personal information? It's just generally a bad idea to rely on untrusted third parties for core functionality.


Part of the requirement for the contract made by a sale of goods to be valid is a meeting of the minds: that both parties share the same concept of what is being transferred by each party to the other.

I would argue that, if you really want to talk about people "having a choice", you need a similar concept: that you are "free to choose" if-and-only-if your choices are indeed what you understand them to be. Which means some form of regulation or curation needs to happen to enforce that.

Of course, this doesn't have to be at all the same thing as the sort of "curation for quality" that the iOS App Store gets up to. Instead, more like FDA labelling requirements on drugs: list your active ingredients or get out.

Consider a hypothetical policy: "whatever misapprehensions a consumer has, due to your marketing, are your fault; a complaint about misapprehensions about your software that cites your own marketing, and which we ascertain as being valid, will result in a ban of all your apps from the store."

Can you make the "I Am Rich" app? Sure; it does what it says on the tin—proves you're rich with a $10k IAP. Can you make a Flashlight app that asks for your contact info? Nope; customers weren't expecting the app to ask. Banned. Even if you never send that info anywhere.


They can't uninstall the app that comes, and it was forced on them through an update. That's a terrible thing, no matter how you try and spin it.


So when Google updated the Nexus dialer to include search-based "Caller ID" that was a bad thing? Or when Google upgraded Messenger to include RCS support?


It is worth noting how we got here:

- Someone said having multiple options for a phone dialer is a wonderful thing.

- Someone else pointed out that the article isn't about a choice, the dialer was forced on the user.

- The parent asks if it is bad that Google updates apps in a tone that strongly hints that they can't imagine how the answer could be yes.

Far too many conversations go like this here.

To (try to) get back on topic, of course the Google can update their apps. I'm pretty sure the number of people here who would answer this negatively at a rounding error away from zero. But that is entirely beside the point.

The point is the author of the article doesn't want a dialer that surveils them and spews their private conversation details (along with everything else of note stored on the phone) to the "trusted partners" of the surveillance firm who wrote it. And yet it was forced on him.

This is ironic and sad to anyone who considers phones to be things that one might have private conversations on. (Insert opportunity to talk about how old-school talking on phones is.)

And again, it is just another reason to be very, very careful with whom you "do business" (which includes third-party private-surveillance firms, the names of which you may not have a way of determining before purchase).

For me, this dictates I won't use consumer software from a large number of current producers. Google included. Not everyone has my requirements, I get that, and that's fine.

But there is exactly nothing wrong with wanting a phone that doesn't spy on you.


> - Someone else pointed out that the article isn't about a choice, the dialer was forced on the user.

If you want the phone to come with a dialer (I think most people do), then some dialer will inevitably be forced on people. And unless you think phone calls are an optional feature, it makes perfect sense that the dialer cannot be deleted.

The only complaint I can see here is that phone manufacturers can make bad choices for their default, undeleteable dialers. Well, yes, just like they can make bad choices for other software on the phone. The only reasonable remedy for that is to buy a phone from a manufacturer that makes software choices you like.

That phone manufacturers can make bad software choices is not an argument against having replaceable dialers. Quite the opposite. A manufacturer can make the exact same bad dialer choice if the dialer isn't replaceable. The only difference is that if the dialer is replaceable you might be able to do something about their bad choice some of the time.


> And unless you think phone calls are an optional feature, it makes perfect sense that the dialer cannot be deleted.

I don't see the connection here. Why shouldn't people be able to delete the dialer if they don't like the phone company's choice? I understand preinstalling one, but preventing people from choosing another if they want seems unnecessary.


As a practical matter, I don't think either the phone manufacturer or the phone company want to be in the position of certifying that every replacement dialer meets regulatory requirements (911, for example). If customers can always roll back to the preinstalled one, they don't need to.


The author explicitly chose to avoid Google because for him, the data protection was insufficient. So I'd say, yes, for privacy-conscious users, it was a bad thing.


Every choice induces stress. Sometimes we really need to be able to make that choice, but requiring choice or having too much choice overwhelms people.


Which would be an issue if Android came without any defaults and gave you a debilitating number of setup options.

But it doesn't, and the stress of choice is only undergone voluntarily when someone volunteers to choose. Otherwise, defaults are king.


I agree. There could be a lot of improvements that can be done to telephone. Of course, they might have tradeoffs (privacy vs. convenience). That's where providing multiple options to the user comes handy.

Some of the improvements (just top of my mind): crowd-sourced list of scammers, telemarketers. For outgoing calls: automapping phone numbers to business/user names, automatically using the best way to route the call based on call rates (WiFi vs cellular vs. multipath TCP) etc.


The problem is that it was switched to a 3rd-party app that collects and shares data without the user's knowledge or permission, and is rather difficult to switch back.


How about the choice to use the default phone app that doesn't phone (sorry) home?


So, out of curiosity, at this point what are his choices?


https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.and... . This is the "Google Dialer".

This is one example; there are dozens more.


The Google Dialer only works on Stock Android. Which is a shame.


Only from the Play Store. The APK can be installed on any device with the same architecture as it's built for. I have it on my LG G4.


Ahh, good point, I forgot about sideloading.


This could be fixed if Google considers this a problem.

Remember when they added Google calendar to Play to fight Samsungs BS?


To be fair, the "Samsung BS" was them trying to setup a separate ecosystem that was just as good in case they needed to break from Google. I really hope Samsung does this at some point too. I feel there are enough people that don't want eyeProducts that we'd finally see some innovation in 3rd party markets ... or everyone would just install Samsung/Google/Amazon stores ..


>This app is incompatible with all of your devices.

My device is a Wiley Fox Swift.




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