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While this is cool, I feel that this will always be a second class citizen at whims of Google, who can break or change their APIs any time. What would it take to provide a proper API replacement that apps can target instead of google play services ? i.e., not spoofing but providing a legit alternative. If I have a spare server for instance, can I set up a GCM like server that can relay messages instead of them going through Google ?

It's not going to be completely at Google's whim, as disabling a certain API/interface means older proper-android devices will also fail. So microg is banking on it's API interface being fine, given Google's interface, for business reasons, has to be fine.

But isn't Google auto-updating on all devices, including old ones?

Only mostly.

I don't know why. Lack of space on some phones maybe, or they could be configured to autoupdate via wifi only but never see wifi. Whatever the reason, if you use google play services, you'll see a few devices with old versions that don't update even though there is a newer version for that OS version.

This allows developers to use new api calls and have their apps work on old devices, it doesn't let google break existing apis without breaking apps. They aren't like recompiling the whole play store against every new google play services build or something.

What I basically want, and have been wanting for years, is to run Linux on my phone, and run Android apps (∗) inside a sandbox (that works on both my phone and my desktop computer). But I guess it is too much to ask.

(∗) for the occasional banking/railway app

One of the "stretch goals" for Purism's Librem 5 [1] (which is a pure GNU/Linux smartphone platform -- designed to work with upstream distributions) is to be able to run Android apps under an emulator.

[1]: https://puri.sm/shop/librem-5/

Their funding goal was $1.5m, and the stretch goal for Android app support was $10m! That says to me they are not interested, putting it as such a ludicrously high goal. Still, I suppose a phone which runs on the mainline kernel will have access to the kernel features necessary to run Anbox. I'd be interested to hear how difficult people think it would be to get Anbox working for this kind of device.

>That says to me they are not interested, putting it as such a ludicrously high goal.

It says to me that they expect it to be super expensive in comparison to other stretch-goals, and that it's not a core goal of the project (and the latter should be true for literally every stretch-goal, in any kickstarter ever).

Yeah, I anticipate that Android emulation will be something the community jumps on rather than being a built-in feature for v1.0.

I don't trust Purism their laptop were rebranded chinese laptop sold at a premium supposedly because they were completely open but they were not.

That is completely unrelated. This is about propriety Google play services. Not about android or aosp. You can anyway run aosp on any number of devices.

If you re-read the comment I was responding to[1], you'll find that it is very much related (in fact I was providing an answer).

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15618507

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