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Why I'm Ditching Android (kevq.uk)
269 points by kevq 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 250 comments



I've been coming around to this way of thinking more and more lately. Apple has a clear business model that involves selling high-end phones and other hardware and taking a percentage of app sales, not selling me to advertisers. I've found at least 5 different privacy settings buried in various places around the Android menus in a confusing way (instead of just having a single switch in the privacy settings menu), and for years iOS has had a much better security track record. The only real down side I can see is that it's not open source (not that Android is either, but there are Android based alternatives that are), but on balance I'd rather use something where the economic pressure is to do right by their customers, not something where their customers are the product.

Apple has serious problems, but on balance it seems to be the better choice. I also tend to agree with the OP that the iPhone SE is a reasonable size, unlike every Android phone on the market. I just really wish there were a decent chat client that supported XMPP-based services, that's really all that's stopped me from moving over (my carrier lets me receive SMS/MMS messages to an XMPP address and receive calls via SIP, so it's rather important to me).


I think you can say that if privacy is important to you, then you are probably more aligned with Apple's business plan. The article says as much. It's not like Apple are being more magnanimous, it's just that they don't profit off of user tracking so they use it as marketing ammo against Google users.

As a developer, it constantly burns my biscuits that Apple software only runs on Apple hardware. The fact that I have no choice but to buy expensive Apple devices to develop for their platform is irritating.


The fact that I have no choice but to buy expensive Apple devices to develop for their platform is irritating.

I've never understood this line of thinking.

Maybe it's because I've been selling programs commercially since the 1980's. Back then, if you wanted to develop a program for a Commodore 64, you bought a Commodore 64. If you wanted to port it to a TRS-80, you bought a TRS-80. If you needed an Atari version, you bought Atari gear.

In the mid-80's it was just ordinary business that if you were developing a program, you released it on Commodore, Apple, Texas Instruments, IBM, and a few others. And to achieve that, you bought at least one machine from each of those companies.

The concept of "I want to build an iPhone app on a Windows box" is a strange new phenomenon to me.


>The concept of "I want to build an iPhone app on a Windows box" is a strange new phenomenon to me.

To be fair, I can build an android app on a Windows or Mac.

Also you're talking about buying a computer to build on that computer. I think the argument was about needing a particular brand laptop to develop apps for a different device.


> Back then, if you wanted to develop a program for a Commodore 64, you bought a Commodore 64.

I don't think anyone would object of all it took to develop for iOS was the device bring targeted, or even an iOS device. The fact that you have to buy a different piece of Apple hardware is this the issue.

You can build Android apps on an Android device. Optionally, you can use Linux, MacOS, or Windows, instead.

> The concept of "I want to build an iPhone app on a Windows box" is a strange new phenomenon to me.

The iOS situation isn't like “you must buy a PC to build PC software”, but more like “you must buy an IBM mainframe to build PC software”.


But you don't have to buy an iPhone, or any iOS-based device to build an app for them. You have to by a Mac desktop/laptop which runs osx/macos.

So it really is on a different platform already, but one within the walls of the brand.


8 bit development was exactly like that.

Sure most bought C64, Spectrum and so forth.

However if you actually wanted to be productive, you would be buying a bigger computer running CP/M, VMS or UNIX variant, cross compile Assembly code and use a transfer cable.


And yet now days, cross plat development for any other imaginable combination is possible.

Apple is the lone hold out here.

But they also have no reason to change.


Really? Is there a practical way to do windows development on Linux?


Xamarin, QT, Electron, a few variants of React Native. For games, pick you favorite cross plat engine.

Follow the steps at https://sites.google.com/site/easylinuxtipsproject/oldgrub for a free Windows VM development license.

For Apple, it is an entire hardware platform.


Partially, those frameworks don't expose OS specific features.


You can run VMs. On any desktop OS or cloud provider.


depends on what you're developing right? If the libraries are there, and you have a cross compiler, then it'd be fine.


Use a VM as a start.


You have a very 80s way of thinking good sir. There is no longer a need to have these limitations in place anymore.


Yeah like paying for our tools like other professionals do. /s


Apple already charges to publish to the app store, just raise the price for people that aren't using a Mac and let people develop on the platform they feel comfortable in. Everyone wins.

Fighting the customer doesn't usually go well in the long run.


Customers are Apple developers that care about Apple platforms.


> Back then, if you wanted to develop a program for a Commodore 64, you bought a Commodore 64.

For testing, yes. To protect their sanity, developers of big projects developed their code using rented CPU minutes on a mainframe.

Maybe apple should provide pay-by-the-minute xcode-as-a-service for the real 1980s feeling?


Could you provide such a service?

There certainly seem to be enough developers who complain about this. I wonder if there'd be a market for a virtual-iphone-dev-box-thing.


I would imagine that's like 95% of MacStadium's[1] business. Macs-as-a-Service.

[1] https://www.macstadium.com


It is not 1980 anymore. We moved on. And that is one of the reasons that the ibm pc was so successful. One platform to develop for, as opposed to TRS, Commodore 64/128/Amiga, Acorn etc.


The IBM PC was successful because IBM did a couple of mistakes, which have been fixed in the world of laptops, 2-1 convertibles, mobile, tablets without expansion slots, with UEFI and blocked boot loaders.


Are you are pointing to Apples lack of success with the iPhone as a reason they should change to be more like the IBM PC?


To some degree, a company that makes money of devices rather than ads will always charge more for the devices since they can’t really sell the device at or below cost and then make the profit from showing ads to their users.


I think Apple's primary source of revenue is selling dongles to fix all their hardware incompatibility issues.


To quote Purism (who are in the process of making a competing phone), Apple is right about privacy, but wrong about freedom; real privacy depends on freedom.


As a user, I’m really happy that it’s harder for you to ship software without testing it on the actual hardware first.


> I also tend to agree with the OP that the iPhone SE is a reasonable size, unlike every Android phone on the market.

This the single biggest reason I abandoned android for iPhone: A premium phone in a reasonable form factor.


I did the same ~4 years ago, but it's not really a reason anymore. Apple no longer makes reasonably sized phones, they stopped doing that since the 5s. The SE was a nice surprise at the time (I still use it) but it was always considered a budget phone.


I grabbed the SE before it went out of Apple stock recently and because I also loved the form factor. I ended up upgrading to the XS because the SE would drop calls consistently in my downstairs home office. The XS has to-date never dropped a call for me. Just thought I’d mention it for anyone else who frequents lower signal areas.



I find it surprising because iPhone SE SAR levels are higher than those of iPhone 6. Actually, at the time of the release, it was the model with the highest SAR levels ever released by Apple.


This quote made it more clear:

> This dramatic difference in head SAR levels is mainly because the transmitter is located at the bottom of Samsung phones rather than at the top, also they incorporate an innovative antenna that transmits the highest intensities of microwave radiation from the lower back of their smartphones.

http://weeksmd.com/2016/01/the-new-smart-phones-are-6x-more-...


Was using wi-fi calling an option?


I like the form factor of my Xperia Compact, sadly with this year model they removed the headphone jack...

By the way, Jolla should be installable on it, if I'm not wrong.


I also like a lot about this phone's hardware (too sad they decided to not continue it), but the stock software on it is quite annoying (glitches, insane loading delays, ads).

You can get Sailfish OS on it for 50€: https://forum.xda-developers.com/x-compact/how-to/sailfish-x...

I currently use an Omni ROM weekly build (Oreo, waiting for Pie). It's so much smoother and less terrible than the stock software.

Sure, this is not "It just works" (and I do like a lot about Apple's design), but I'm also glad it's not "fuck you, we decided this for you, take it".


Omni ROM isn't LineageOS but a binary built from the Sony AOSP right?

Considering I disabled all Sony applications because I have no use for them, with the exception of the keyboard because can't be disabled, Omni ROMs are another option that I hadn't considered. I already dumped the TA partition with the DRM keys many moons ago (I only need to find where I stored it), but I suppose they only work with Android.

I'm tempted by Jolla, but I need a banking OTP generator that only exists on Android and iOS (so Android emulator or another phone)...


I'm not sure if Omni builds on Lineage, but they don't use any closed source Sony stuff, I think.

The open camera drivers bring a great performance increase in shutter response, but a pretty bad decrease in low-light performance.

The build I'm using has some annoying issues like a barely working fingerprint scanner and Bluetooth audio, but even with that it is less irritating than Sony's to me. I assume both are fixable fairly easy (I'm waiting for Pie builds).

The official Sailfish OS builds come with an Android app runtime (Alien Dalvik), I think, but it may be missing some security features.

I'm not sure if it uses the official Sony camera drivers, information about this seems to be conflicting. Maybe both are available, if Sailfish utilizes Android drivers.


Thanks for your experience, I need a quiet weekend to try it then. ^__^;

About Sony official camera drivers, I checked briefly and it looks like they are available only on Android.


Have you considered a Blackberry? I’m using an android BB from maybe the first run, few years old, and it’s got all the privacy I need up front.


I actually had a Blackberry Priv before the phone I have now. I could never really gel with it - the physical keyboard was awesome though. Still have it in the drawer actually.


Also recommend this.


> Apple has a clear business model that involves selling high-end phones and other hardware and taking a percentage of app sales, not selling me to advertisers.

I would just be a little cautious about this. Apple is currently sticking it to Google by making it easy to block ads and by offering appealing privacy features.

But we don't know what Apple will do if everyone switches away from Android. I would guess that the profit stream from selling everyone's data to advertisers when most users are locked into their ecosystem will be very appealing.

Similarly to how Google and Facebook both eschewed ads while drawing people away from other services that were swamped with ads.


Yes, and look at how much $ Apple made from Google by having Google as the default search engine on Apple devices (most people don't ever switch the search provider). I'm wondering how much longer Google will be willing to pay that much while Apple continues to limit the ways the data gets shared back to Google via the browser, basically stabbing Alphabet in the back. That can't last forever from Googles perspective.

I keep wondering why Apple doesn't just build their own search engine and provide unfettered results based entirely on popularity/rank (and other "real" metrics) like how google "used" to be in the beginning. Yes, I know search is hard, but it's not as hard as all of the extra steps Google has been doing the last 15 or so years to manipulate their results higher so they get more $ out of it. Certainly it's not as complicated as building a new mapping system from scratch. That would go a great deal further to "increase Apple users privacy" than anything else I can think of. It would also cause a lot of financial harm to Alphabet if all of the sudden all Apple device owners world-wide suddenly didn't have their data going through Google. And, it would provide top-notch results, which Apple consumers would presumably love. What is the downside to this that I'm (obviously) missing?


It's also not going to happen. Normal people don't pay for high-end phones, and way outnumber the people who do in most of the world (those parts that are not California). Even the "cheap" iPhone models are outside the price range the average consumer pays.


I dunno what average consumer means. Here in Australia almost everybody on train have an iPhone not older that 1 gen back. Some minority has flagship Samsung’s. Some of the geeky people have top notch(no pun intended) pixels or one plus, all flagships, but this is really a minority from my anecdotal experience. Most of the regular people that I see use some version of an iPhone. Apple Stores are being packed compared to the Samsung store across the street. The price is not a problem I think. People just buy it on two year contracts or loans and being just fine with it.


> if everyone switches away from Android

Very little risk of that. Our owners also want phones, and for the moment do not mind sharing the brand/models with the 10 or 20% who can afford, and know enough to choose, it.


Actually Android is open source: The full name, AOSP, stands for "Android Open Source Project", and you can download the source here: https://source.android.com/setup/build/requirements

Anyone is free to modify, build, and distribute their own versions of Android. How else would OEMs ship their own skins? This also means you can audit Android source for vulnerabilities, backdoors, etc.


Very Disingenuous , AOSP standalone is rarely sold over the counter in a consumer droid phone, you could run it if you are interested, projects use it as a base but AOSP standalone is not the version most consumers run.

Every major version ports more functionality from AOSP over to GSF - which is closed source.

I cannot audit GSF and I cannot check for backdoors,, GSF phones home as it legitimate functionality, it is next to possible to verify back-doors don't exist. Location APIs could just be for your location, or google/ three letter agencies could be tracking you .

All the major OEMs include AOSP + GSF and then their custom layers. The only popular OEM using without GSF I know is Amazon with the kindle platform. To get Google certified OEM / use droid trademarks / use GSF you need to jump through hoops and give Google all kinds of access, not remotely same as open source.


For XMPP on iOS I recommend Monal. https://monal.im/


I've tried Monal and wasn't impressed. Admittedly, it's been a while and I don't really remember why, so maybe I should give it another shot.


It's interesting that aiming high and taking profit from app makers kinda push the goal to make high value apps. While on Android, ad money and free apps doesn't really create the right context


Something like 20% of Apple's revenue is payments from Google for sending them search traffic from Safari and Siri.

edit: This is wrong, I can't find the source for that now but probably it was referring to 20% of services revenue. Its only like 5% of total revenue: http://fortune.com/2018/09/29/google-apple-safari-search-eng...

edit2: This was the source[1], they quoted 24% of services revenue:

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-11-02/apple-...


20% is a huge overestimation. Apple's revenue in 2017 was $239B [2]; Google paid them somewhere between $1B and $9B [1]; 0.5% to 3%.

[1] http://fortune.com/2018/09/29/google-apple-safari-search-eng...

[2] https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/AAPL/apple/revenue


Interesting is though how the number's been growing over the years, even though the amount of sold devices's been rather stagnant. Google pays a lot per customer, while Apple allows to use DuckDuckGo and others. I wonder how long will Google feel it's that valuable for them (and what a percentage of users'd swich to Google even though other search engine would be default instead)


Apple really has google over a barrel here. You’d have to imagine that google wouldn’t even toy with the thought of not paying the ransom and testing how many people would switch their search engine from the default to google. Also, let’s say DuckDuckGo was the default and users actually liked it and switched their desktop browser search away from google, they’d be really sorry.


Totally agree (happy DuckDuckGo user here). My point is - is there a point from which Google wouldn’t pay “the randsom”? As it’s spiked and is prone to rise again.


Notifications, as you rightly mentioned, are a huge problem with Android. Some manufacturers implement battery saving measures which force kill applications so they can no longer process notifications.

I used to work at a team messaging startup Flock and we used to get a lot of complaints from users about missing notifications. We were able to detect impacted users and reduce complaints substantially using duplicate acks from xmpp fcm and app. The details are outlined here in case anyone wants to check out: https://hackernoon.com/notifications-in-android-are-horribly...


The current Android app development landscape seems to be where the web was circa 2005, where you have a "standard" Android API (except without an actual standard), implemented a million different ways based on the whims of each individual vendor. Compounded by the problem that Google seems to enjoy replacing parts of the API every single year for no discernable reason.

I do not envy the job of an Android developer.


The best part is having Google supporters defend that Android is not as fragmented as J2ME.

In a sense they are kind of right just in a wrong way, OEMs got even worse.


That's a pretty horrifying story about those push notifications. The biggest use case of my customers for creating native apps around web apps for iOS is push notifications, that's immensely huge for businesses. Losing push notifications means your application loses it's value.


Although probably not push itself as a mechanism, this interfering trend is so bad that for a time I could not find a timer or alarm that would actually ring at the right time. I have one now, but there should have been zero instances of failure to notify for a timer.


On the other hand, there should also be zero instances of battery-burning apps, and zero instances of unkillable apps.

IMO the blame belongs mostly to the thingies that kills apps so hard that Android blacklists them, and won't start them again until the user explicitly does it. That Android has that blacklist is understandable; that "battery savers" get innocent apps added is IMNSHO offensively shoddy.


I had no idea they did that. Does Greenify work that way?


Never tried Greenify. But the two I've seen close apps in a forcible manner that Android cannot distinguish from a buggy app that crashes repeatedly when restarted. Then Android revokes the app's right to (re)start itself.

The user retains that right. But the app cannot e.g. schedule anything to be run next time the phone is on WLAN, or next time the battery is being charged.


Why does push notifications on Android require the app to be running? On iOS, as I understand, you tell Apple to send a notification, which is received by a service on the device, which triggers your app to do a little processing and show the notification - why is Android any different?


Apps developers seem to think their notifications are more important than they really are. Yet somehow the time sensitive notifications don't show up. but it's awesome I was notified and interrupted throughout the day about a new ___. I personally have cancelled paid services and uninstalled apps because of that abuse.

And yet useful apps have issues with notifications even without battery saving measures. It's not just a single app, it's been a consistent issue.


Agreed. I deleted the Starbucks app from my iPhone because Starbucks decided to use spam notifications. Same for 9to5 Mac.

Ditto for the New York Times, my local media, and even the BBC.

I just want an app that will send me notifications about breaking news. Breaking news that is actually important breaking news, and not "See our profile of some celebrity you don't give a crap about in tomorrow's New York Times!"

Sadly, the only news app I have left that's permitted to access notifications is Sky News. And even it spams on occasion. But it seems to be only around once or twice a month.


It's been possible to turn off notifications on an app-by-app basis for at least 2 years. The settings are pretty granular in the newer versions of Android, you can set it so that an app does not interrupt you in any way, and you'll only see the notification once you unlock your phone.

However, if a single app is mixing in, say, 5 frivolous notifications with 2 critical ones, I don't think there is any OS-level way to deal with that.

https://www.howtogeek.com/204187/how-to-disable-app-notifica...


The problem is that some notifications for a particular app are useful. It just seems like the creators of the app feel all of their many notifications are equally important. It's granular to the level of "all or nothing" in most cases.


> force kill applications so they can no longer process notifications

I saw your article about push notifications on certain android phone manufacturers and found it interesting -- something I hadn't seen before. Nice!

But, if I'm not mistaken, the OP is focusing especially on android notifications raised by the app itself rather than push notifications. I'm not sure, but it seems like the problem he highlights involves compatibility-mode changes to the way apps run code while the app itself is also in the background.

Or, it could be that the app developers are not using the officially recommended soup of background processing job scheduling classes the way Android says they should.

Or, maybe that soup of classes isn't always as reliable as advertised.


From what I know, Android app has to run a background service to listen for GSM notifications so if you kill it - no notifications for you. Am I being wrong, has it changed? My last android dev experience is about 5 years old.


any app can raise a Notification i.e. a message box thingee that appears in the device's Notification Drawer. (this is different from a Push Notification.)

and I think what the OP was talking about was this kind of Notification. i think he was saying that various apps that count on reliably running code in the background (e.g. when the app itself is in the stopped state and not visible on screen) are no longer able to reliably run that code in the background because Android decided not to let them do that on demand in a reliable way (in order to save battery). but that backgrounded code is what had been placing notifications in the Notification Drawer (when, say, the app became aware that there was a new email in your inbox or when a Calendar appointment was now one hour away, etc).

as for push notifications, nowadays, Firebase Cloud Messaging is recommended. your app derives a service from FirebaseMessagingService and marks that service as "exported" in the manifest. and, you don't have to explicitly start that service. and, though i could be wrong, I think that service does not actually run in the background all the time. i think what happens is that some generic Firebase service invokes your app's service when a push notification has arrived for it. your app's service then processes that message as desired, and, if I understand correctly, it shuts back down. i believe Firebase is basically managing your service so that it does not have to run in the background all the time.


Notifications need teirs.

You have notifications, that are not important, so low priority.

But equally you have notifications that are important, those should be sent and logged message queue style, so they stay on the send queue until processed and processing acknowledged by the client.


Actually Google does have the concept of priority in Notifications. https://firebase.google.com/docs/cloud-messaging/concept-opt... . On a Google/Stock Android OS and on some good manufacturers like motorola notifications do work as expected.

It's just the custom battery saver stuff that some manufacturers implement on top of Android which causes issues. Google doesn't have much control over the privileged process that manufacturers install on devices.


User- or sender- determined?

One of those never works.


The user determines the priority of notifications per-app and per-app-notification type (using notification channels) and configures how the notification is allowed to interrupt them.

https://developer.android.com/training/notify-user/channels


That at least ... stands a chance ... of working.

Though in my experience, any notifications is too many.


Pardon my ignorance, but why do you see this as an Android-only problem?

Surely every possible operating system suffers the same problem, no?


Not me551ah, but the problem with Android is that:

1. iOS is an Apple operating system. Every iOS device has a daemon running a service that connects with Apple's APNS (Apple Push Notification Service), and that service routes the notifications of every App to the user's device. APNS is non-negotiable, every iOS device has it running, and every App that wants to [reliably] deliver notifications must use it. It's part of the OS, so the OS won't kill it, in fact, if it crashes, the OS restarts it. It also means it's "well behaved", meaning it won't mine cryptocurrencies in the background (unless Apple breaks bad and decides that it's $1T value is not worth it anymore).

2. Android is not a strictly Google operating system. Google has it's APNS analogous, GCM (Google Cloud Messaging), but not every Android device has ties with Google, its open source, meaning millions (billions?) of Android devices out there are running without any Google ties. So in turn, many Apps device to have their own background tasks running all the time, with a persistent connection to the server to watch for notifications. Problem with this it's okay when you have 10 Apps with notifications, not when you have 100 Apps with notifications, each one having it's own background service. Some Android OEM's want their users to have great batt life and kill those background services, leaving notifications dead.


GCM is replaced by FCM.

Also, sure, some user might run pure Android and not have a centralized push notification system, but that is not the problem people usually might be experiencing.

The power management and priority system is rather complicated on Android and incoming notifications might be deferred or not shown at all(to avoid wasting power on low priority notifications) depending on app, app usage and settings.


iOS notifications are in a separate system and do not need any part of the host app to be started to receive them.


Apple is a closed ecosystem, so the OS that Apple builds is what goes into the end device. Android is open so manufacturers have the ability to add other privileged processes in addition to what is shipped with the default OS. These processes can monitor other processes and kill them in such a way that they can't wake up or display notifications until they are opened once by the user. These processes are usually added to extend battery life and make the device more responsive by limiting background applications.


No, only Android suffers of these hacky issues because Google allows manufacturer to customize Android way too much. Android is the modern equivalent of Windows XP themes if you want to compare.


Or Linux distributions.


Funny.

I never used Flock & would get spammed notifications (via SMS) from them.

My 2012 Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/wdr1/status/255454270160244736

It later which switched to email wherein the justification was "growth strategy."


My 2012 Twitter thread:

Nope.

This account's Tweets are protected.


If you still know people working over there please let them know that the slack wannabe messaging app is a dumpster fire. I struggle with it every day at work.

Edit: I realise I came across a bit too aggressive. Apologies for that.


You could also use 'Send Feedback' from inside of the app and send in your issues to the devs. I've found that the developers are pretty responsive to feedback and reply back quickly. It has 4.3 rating on the store.


I doubt anyone is going to log a trouble ticket for "dumpster fire."


I made the switch to a refurbished 6s a couple of months ago when we started work on a new iOS app, and I am happy that I did. For the foreseeable future, I'll be purchasing iPhones. (I even purchased the recently announced Mac Mini in order to access the Apple software ecosystem; though, I suspect that I'll continue to prefer my Ubuntu laptop for productivity).

Why switch? After all this time (embarrassed to say), I've finally started to take my data privacy seriously. I really respect Google as an engineering company, and even as a product company. Products like Search/PageRank, Maps, StreetView, SkyMap, Translate, Books/Scholar, AdWords/AdSense/AdMob, Places, Trends, TensorFlow (and CoLab w/ free 12 hr sessions of TPU or GPU), BigTable, Gmail, Glass, and of course Android all are/were really great products. The only problem: those offerings are for the direct purpose of collecting your personal data (or the indirect purposes of making their other products - which collect your data - more efficient, or to bring more people online to collect data from).

I would love Google as a product company; I hate them as an ad company (85%+ of revenues resulting from advertising activities). I have migrated from, or I am currently migrating from, every Google product with the exception of YouTube (difficult to break from that, so I try to mitigate by having multiple accounts) and TensorFlow.

Notifications on Android were never an issue for me. Maybe I didn't have a similar suite of apps as OP. (iOS notifications have been more annoying thus far).


The number of requests sent to Google or Apple seems like a poor metric to judge privacy impact. A single request with my bank account number carries a lot more information about me than 1,000 with my battery status.


I thought so too, until while programming a wifi webcam I needed to sniff wifi traffic from my phone. God that was scary. I remember doing packet capture work 10-12 years back and knowing more or less what my machine was doing on the network.

These days I can't even begin to work that out. There is easily a 100x more traffic and every single time I ran a capture I would find a whole bunch of new hosts being contacted that have no business talking to my phone. And I just use my phone for email and messaging. Not a big app user.


Apple has less incentive to exfiltrate your personal data. I hate what both apple and google stand for these days.


There's also Google Analytics... a product often used by third parties to collect behavioral data.


The worlds really could use a "free" mobile OS. I was sad that Firefox OS never saw daylight. Im on android and dislike google very much, though not as much as I disslike Apple. Purism is making a Libre 5 mobile, I hope something like that could really break through. Imagine a desktop/server world without linux. Thats would be awefull. Yet thats where we are with mobiles today


Firefox OS is now known as Kai OS, its available on devices like the nokia banana phone. I've still got a Mozilla Flame developer handset and it all runs surprisingly smoothly.


Firefox OS is open source. KaiOS is closed source.

KaiOS may be a continuation of the same product, but it's not a continuation of the same project.


Purism's Linux phone is in development. Version one will surely be low in features, but it sure has potential if it can survive a few iterations


The only realistically feasible free mobile OS is Android actually. AOSP to be exact, with no Google Play Services.


Sailfish is another alternative.


I also have an SE and love it. The OP, and various posts above are slightly wrong to say that Apple is a hardware company. Apple is a PRODUCT company; They design, sell, and support the whole product. That’s why is all Just Works, which is what most folks of any ilk want. Even their Unix (basically BSD) Just Works. Yeah, a little more Open would be great, but when I want to build something else, like a house, I really don’t need to be worrying about recompiling my screwdriver. Like the OP said, I want a phone that’s a phone and works. I want a Unix that’s stabdards compliant and works. I want a laptop that works. And I’m willing to pay a little more for someone else to build and maintain the roads and bridges so I can get where I want to go. And, yeah, not to spy on me while I’m getting there.


A bit painful to read considering the iPhone SE-series is now discontinued. (Despite that the SE is still a very good phone. Wish more manufacturers made devices with these dimensions and polish.)


Yeah, the SE was best value/price phone. I have hard time understanding why Apple stopped producing it. The form factor was the best as well, I can't stand bigger phones personally.

I told my parents to buy an Android initially but ultimately they moved to the iPhone because they thought it was simpler and better than Android. To me the fact that I can code my own apps with Java without having to buy a mac is a plus, but I understand people who aren't developers don't care about hackability if they can afford an iPhone.


iOS can also be pretty fun to develop for if you have a mac and xcode.

IMHO iOS is good for developers who are okay with coloring inside the lines set out by Apple. The developer experience isn't perfect by any stretch, but writing personal apps/utilities in Swift using a package manager like Carthage is pretty painless.

Apple has some great features for de-centralization, such as the Multipeer Connectivity framework.

I think it depends a lot on where in the stack you want to work. If you want to customize your baseband or do system-level modifications then Android is the way to go. If you work higher up the stack, writing apps, then you might like iOS more than Android. I certainly did.


It will be supported for another year or two so there's time to wait a bit to see what Apple does. An Xr Mini would be an instabuy for me even if they would price it around US$700.


It's discontinued, but you can still purchase the device (for fairly low price too!). On top of that, based on Apple's track record for software support, you can expect support for at least another year, if not more. Note that the iPhone 5S, a phone released in 2013 on iOS7, received the iOS12 update not too long ago.


Where can they be bought? Via a cellphone provider or online retailer?


A quick check of Amazon brought up a hundred or so resellers. Unfortunately you can no longer get them via Apple refurb program, but an online retailer like Amazon is probably the next best thing if you are careful to vet the seller.


I'm not sure what HN policies are on sharing retailer links, but amazon, ebay, ali-express are all retailers that sell the iPhone SE. The major US cellular providers also still sell the SE, though at a much higher price.


Swappa is the best place for used phones. SE's there are $110-150 in good condition.


It's still a capable phone, but keep in mind the hardware is between 3 and 4 years old at this point.


The SE was launched in 2016, after the 6S. It is on par with many newer Android models, has a great camera, supports AR, and still feels faster and smoother than almost all of them due to iOS and better touch response time.


That doesn't change the fact that the hardware is 3-4 years old. The SE has nothing that's newer than the 6S which launched in fall of 2015. It also has some components that are from the 6 era, so fall 2014. Like I said, it's still a capable phone (I've had the SE since release).


You can still buy one at local Apple stores (it's in stock but not listed anywhere), and most online retailers; won't last long though. I expect it to be fully supported for at least another 2-3 years considering it's 6S hardware.

Just got one myself a couple weeks back, after being disappointed by the new Max Extra Turbo-sized models.


I put lineage on two devices and I must say it's shockingly refreshing to be able to have some say in how much Google you get. I am used to the idea of OEM and carrier bloatware but it's surprising how much unwanted Google software appears in a stock image. On lineage I am pretty happy with the "nano" set of OpenGApps which is about the amount of Googleyness I want. I install a few more from Play on top.


I've been using CyanogenMod and now LineageOS since my first Android phone, and I love it over OEM. I'm unfortunatly still tied to GApps, but at this point it's basically contacts and calendar sync along with Maps, along with a random Play-store-only app (e.g. Transit). (I find almost everything I need in F-Droid.) (Yes, I have OSMand and offline maps, but I still like Google Maps for some things.)

My biggest problem right now is finding an Android phone smaller than 5", preferably under 4½", that I can both install lineageOS on and actually purchase :-\


I hate how Google Contacts and Calendar are so much superior to any other offer. I can easily find alternative to everything google except for those two.

Especially true with Contacts I feel like I'm doxing everybody I add to it. I have tried many alternative, but nothing even remotely measure to it.


I personally find Gmail and Drive to also be superior offerings. The only problem I have with either is privacy.

Gmail's integration with Drive and Calendar are really nice. It's a very mature web email app besides all that. It's not hard to find other email solutions, but in my experience they lack the polish and integration that makes Gmail so valuable.

I have been looking for a good zero-knowledge cloud storage solution that fit my requirements for a while. All of the alternatives I've tried have severe limitations or unresolved issues.


Lots alternative for mail, even self-hosted can be pretty polished.

Google drive doesn't work on Linux so it's a non-starter for me. Have you looked at PCloud and Dropbox?


Does Sony no longer offer the 4.3" phone?


The z1 isn't listed as supported by lineageos.


Lineage seems like a reasonable solution.

Dropping Android for iOS is a joke.


Yeah, if you don't like something Apple puts in their image good luck...

On the other hand it's not always as reasonable as it should be. I do find it frustrating that devices are so locked down, to the point where finding something to run lineage well and has the feature set you want can be tough. With my latest attempt I found a phone where several models, depending on what country and carrier, would not unlock the bootloader. And online sellers of phones are not always specific about what sub-model you get. I had to return a few because the seller sent me a Rodgers or an AT&T one that wouldn't unlock. I can definitely see how enough rounds of this can make some people throw their hands up and let Apple make all the choices.


Thing is, there are plenty of places where Google dictates Android options that you cannot do anything about. It is not like Apple has a monopoly on this.

The idea of mucking about with multiple phones just to find the one which irritates me the least is very unappealing. It's an appliance, I just need the thing to work.


Ok. It's like running Linux or BSD on desktops or laptops, which I have done since the 90s. If you get into that game, or especially many years ago it was more true, you sometimes had to be picky or patient about hardware. That's a choice I can make in order to get perceived advantages on other fronts, and I respect and understand people who make the other trade-off. (I acknowledged as much in the comment you're replying to.)


I'm with you that he might have tried a little harder, but he does address this, briefly.

/e/ might be a better fit for him.


I think addresses it succinctly. If you remove google from Android, some apps won’t work because they are ecpecting those services. This isn’t the fault of the app developer.

If you are using linage and /e/ you can’t really add “works with all android apps” as a check in the pro column.

You’re getting even more fragmented than Android which is already much more than IOS. To each his own but let’s be honest about what these are.


Agreed, but if he's already ditching all his apps then there's no single app that seems absolutely required...

Some core apps have replacements on the other side, like maps, might be why a full leap is better than half measures. /e/ should help with those. Ideally. Maybe it's not there yet.


To say that I'm ditching Android is a pretty incomplete statement - because there is no one Android. It really matter which flavour of Android we are talking about. And which specific device. For example, the bloatware might not be a problem on a unlocked Pixel device.

At this point, both iOS and Android are in pretty stable states. It comes down to individual preferences. Author primarily seems to have an issue with Google, which again is justified.


To say that I'm ditching Android is a pretty incomplete statement - because there is no one Android.

I’m sure the author would be glad to add that to the list of complaints. One OS might say, “Surprise! You got the wrong version/model/puppy for your use case!”. The other one won’t.


I do not have any extra bloatware from any manufacturer, due to the fact that I run a Xiaomi Mi A1 as my daily driver, but I still would appreciate the choice to be able to manually install only the apps that I would use, e.g. Firefox instead of Chrome. I do have 64Gb of internal storage, but I obsess about every lost megabyte due to something I don't use( even when disabled or not used, Chrome still runs functions on the phone, so it runs in the background ).


That sounds a lot like bloatware to me


> but I still would appreciate the choice to be able to manually install only the apps that I would use, e.g. Firefox instead of Chrome.

I have a Xiaomi Mi A1 with Firefox and no Chrome anywhere. I flashed LineageOS with the Open GApps nano package (which does not include anything you can also get from the play store, like Chrome) and don't even know what the stock experience is like. So far I didn't experience any major problems running a non-stock ROM.


When disabled, the operating system exposes none of the app's hooks to start any part of it, so it is not true that a disabled app still runs functions on the phone. It is even possible to swap out the WebView implementation for other apps. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/47577525/get-webview-imp...

iOS has just as much bloatware, and much of it can't even be disabled, let alone uninstalled.

For privacy, consider that iOS does not let you disable AGPS data collection. On Android, it is opt in. iOS does not let you open addresses in an offline maps application by default, so Apple gets all your address lookups. iOS does not let you replace your default SMS app, so Apple gets all the phone numbers you want to send a message to in order to see if that phone number is associated with an iMessages account. On Android, you can set your default SMS app to Signal to get automatic private messaging by default. Worst of all, iOS does not let you develop for your own phone without registering an Apple ID.

Apple talks a good privacy game, but there is no substance there. You are jumping out of the frying pan and into the fryer.


You can absolutely uninstall default apps and you don’t have to use iMessage.


Both of your claims don't disagree with mine. The point is there are some bloatware apps that you can't uninstall, including Safari and iMessage. You don't have to use iMessage, but unlike on Android, it is impossible not to use it if you use SMS.


Chrome is the webview for all apps, might be tricky to remove.


It's not, though.

WebView is the built in web view mechanism for all apps that don't want to roll their own web view, and Chrome for Android is a browser that makes use of that WebView mechanism. Strictly speaking, a browser is just an interface that lets you interact with web pages.

And you're not locked into WebView: if you actually wrote your own, you're entirely free to deploy it. It's just insanely hard to write a web render engine these days so for most people there's no point in the slightest: it just makes your application bigger.

One example where it _does_ make sense is Firefox for Android, which comes with its own engine, because as long as the Android core classes area available, it should be able to run. Not "stop working" just because someone tailored their Android build to not include WebView.


I understand your point and you are right. There is a difference between theory and practice - in practice, it is Chrome.


Plainly no: in practice, it is the Android SDK WebView class, not the 140MB Chrome app.


From Google search results:

Android WebView is a system component powered by Chrome that allows Android apps to display web content


Boy, this is really starting to remind me of the controversy over bundling IE in Windows 98. Makes me think that all products eventually end up as bloated due to market pressure.


You can install Bromite (un-googled Chromium) WebView from f-droid repository https://www.bromite.org/fdroid


When you write an app, will you test that it works with that?


> the bloatware might not be a problem on a unlocked Pixel device

Or an Android One device.


Which simultaneously addresses the author's complaint that Androids cost as much as iPhones.

Pure Android doesn't have to.


On the notifications part, I had a Huawei phone for a bit and encountered the same issue. Huawei does some crazy things to keep the battery from draining. It does kill almost all background apps. There are some settings to stop this but it seems like a crap shoot whether it decided to listen to them. I thought android had gone down hill and eventually tested out an S9 and realized it was the Huawei android flavor that did this.


To me, this sounds like a feature.

Basically I'd like the phone to cut off all mobile data, wifi, gps, and other radio and kill all applications when the screen is locked.

OnePlus has some background activity limits and you can turn on the aggressive Doze (or whatever it's called these days) but if my phone is locked I would really, really like to just receive calls and sms and have the system enforce that, and switch off all the unrelated hardware to extend standby time.


I used to do this when I had a rooted phone. I kept the radio active so that I could receive calls and texts but data, GPS and wifi were all off.

It saved battery if I wasn't doing much with my phone. If I was constantly unlocking to check where I was on a map then it ate up more battery and it was incredibly frustrating as it takes a while to get a GPS lock when you don't have Wifi to assist in a city, until Wifi come back on which also takes a while. Friends that only communicate with messenger and Whatsapp had trouble getting through. Loads of apps that had been trying to communicate also woke up once there was a connection using up more CPU cycles, slowing everything down some more.

IMHO, its not worth it. Just use the background apps controller in Android 8.1. Whitelist the things that you do want notifications from and everything else can wait for you to open the app.


You can do this on the iPhone by completely disabling “background refresh”.

It will still poll for notifications - but nothing else.


This is the reason VLC have blacklisted recent Huawei phones.

https://twitter.com/videolan/status/1022033608670961665


I have the same problem with my android, I generally find the notifications less reliable than when I was on iOS.


The second a pure linux phone without googles bullshit (which includes allowing manufacturer and carrier bullshit) comes out, I'm switching. Until then I'm sticking with my blackberry android because at least I have a linux underside and a foss appstore.

Google had such a good opportunity with android, and shit the bed with it, abusing users and letting manufacturers and carriers join in on the abuse.

There should be a "Right to Root".



Canonical only gave this a very half-assed attempt though. The purism 5 should be coming out relatively soon, and it looks like they work hard to make their laptops work decently. I hope that translates over well to the phone.



And OpenMoko before that.

Turns out the number of people that actually want a phone with a terminal interface is in the dozens.


Don’t strawman. No-one wants a phone with a terminal interface, and linux phones did not have terminal interfaces.


I recognize that I'm in the minority, but I want a terminal interface on my phone. I have my qualms with Android, but one of my favorite things about it is that I can drop into a terminal and have what is essentially a full Linux distro at my disposal. I often leave my main laptop at the office instead of lugging it around, and it's great being able to use a bluetooth keyboard with my phone to get real work done sometimes.

I use termux [1] which allows me to install whatever software I want with APT. I can use vim, ssh into servers, and mostly do whatever else I would do on a computer. It's not a strawman, it's just a developer-centric niche.

1 - https://wiki.termux.com/wiki/Main_Page


There’s a difference between a phone with a terminal and a phone with a terminal interface.


you can get phones that allow AOSP. Most xiaomi phones do. I have one running exclusively FOSS apps. If you don't mind the form factor, the Pyra is coming out this year


The Pyra doesn't have a microphone. However, since the headset port supports all TRRS standards, you could use a headset with a microphone.

Although I still don't think it'll make for a very good phone, and I say this as a backer that's quite excited to get his hands on the Pyra. I'd look towards the Librem 5 for a more realistic phone experience.


Yes their hardware is grossly overpriced, but the flagship Android phones are pretty much inline with Apple these days.

So which is it, Apple is grossly over-priced or inline with what a decent Android phone costs? And then the author goes on to complain about the data firehouse back to Google and bloatware. Are we yet seeing that price is not always measured in dollars? I don’t mean to pick on the author, I guess it’s just interesting to watch the process of coming to this realization.

But the notifications, holee-shit. That seems like one of those “under a full moon...” reports, but others here confirm. I’m so speechless, I don’t even have a snarky Apple fanboi comment.


Apple devices have been historically overpriced. Most recently Android manufacturers wised up and realized they can also benefit from segmentation, and raised prices to match. Now everything is overpriced, and we all win! /s


A lot of people want to ditch both Android and Apple, so /e/ is kicking off as a purely Google-free FOSS OS the author might like more than Lineage, once it gets a little more developed:

https://www.xda-developers.com/e-google-free-lineageos-fork-...

We're overdue for some viable third option.


Isn't LineageOS microG already google free?


Yes, it is, and you can run microG on any Android version without OpenGApps. With microG you still rely on non-free services (Google Play Services, for example); just via open source frameworks. You also, possibly, breach Google's EULA.

I do use it. The notifications aren't flawless, since any application using firebase isn't going to work (the old GCM still works for now). Things may break any day. I suppose its akin to being on your own whilst running a Hackintosh except that the software is FOSS.

A reasonable alternative is a model where you pay for the software and get a license to run it. For that, you can opt for Sailfish which is almost completely FOSS. Heck, you can run community versions of Sailfish as well but without Alien Dalvik (Android compatibility layer). But I wouldn't depend on such too much.

Other alternatives are the Ubuntu Touch/Phone project by UBPorts, and the KDE people are also still alive and kicking. There's postmarketOS, based on Alpine, giving older smartphones a second life.

And you can also opt to use a dumbphone plus a mobile device. You don't need to have a smartphone.


Did you read the author’s issues with that?


The author talks about lineage, but not micro g, which does sound designed to solve his exact issue.

"Android experience relies heavily on Google's Play Services. The microG project creates an alternative to installing Gapps, which install and execute closed-source blobs on our phones. MicroG however requires a patch called "signature spoofing"..."


I used to have a Jolla when they first came out ditched it because of the crappy camera. I'm going to give Sailfish X another try next week.


I'm also thinking about ditching android, for a completely different reason.

I want a premium phone. I like good cameras, and big fat CPUs. So I've been using Samsung phones for a while. I currently have an S6, which I have been pretty happy with. But it has come to my attention that it has received its last update about 6 months ago. Samsung only sends updates for two years.

Having an internet-connected device that no longer gets patches? Seems like a terrible idea to me.

Apple supports their phones for 5 years. So that's the direction I'm currently looking.


I bought a Pixel 3, which will receive 3 years of feature and security updates directly from Google. Previously I had a Pixel 1, which only received 2 years of updates, although it'll continue to receive security updates for another year. I'd prefer it if they provided support for a bit longer than that, but it's still better than what many other vendors are pushing.

The Pixel 3 is a big improvement over every other Android experience I've had, and I've been in the ecosystem since the Nexus One. It's the first Android phone I've used which actually feels like a premium phone, which is what I'd expect, considering its hefty price tag. Its camera has been called the top of the line by many reviewers. Heck, right now there's a post in the HN front page about the Pixel 3's camera [0].

Stock Android is still kinda buggy and rough around the edges in a few places, but it has definitely been improving. I've found the latest version to be much more stable and reliable, at least during the short time I've had it.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18370130


And keep in mind that sales are spread across that 2 year lifecycle - plenty of people buying the phone one year after its out, and then getting only another year of updates.

This is what happened to me when I bought a Nexus 5, and it was the final straw. I bought a cheap second hand iPhone 6S, and havn't looked back. I do miss the notification LED though, and the better clock/alarm functionality on Android.


Just ask around what great experience it is to use new os/apps on a 5 year old phone.


I think this issue is likely to be diminished as the performance difference's not been improving that much lately (X and XS having similar CPU performance) - we have come to a point of smartphone evolution where yearly additions to a performance will not be the reason to upgrade -> therefore I don't expect new iOS versions slowing devices significantly.


That's what I am thinking too.


Use a postmarket Lineage OS?


I ditched Android 2+ years ago for... Windows Mobile. :)

While I did so for purely financial reasons (Microsoft was in the process of bailing out, so was putting their stock on fire sale and I couldn't resist, ecosystem disadvantages notwithstanding), I've come to appreciate the design and will be sad once I have to leave (I'm still using a Windows 10 Mobile Alcatel IDOL 4s as my daily driver).

To me, Windows Mobile had some of the best parts of Android (hardware variety) and Apple (regular OS/security updates for all).


I'm currently in a similar spot, but am very surprised you did not mention MicroG, which is an open reimplementation of the Google APIs. There seem to be some issues with GCM (or, more precisely, the newer replacement - uhm, FCM?), but imho it's worth a try. If you already have a LineageOS-supported device, you can grab a prebuilt LineageOS+MicroG image from the MicroG site.

Disclaimer: That's pure theory. I'm still figuring out how to do a custom build of LOS16+MicroG for my device, since it's only on LOS14.


Have you looked here? They do builds of lineageos with mircog already installed

https://lineage.microg.org/


Thanks :), but as I said:

> If you already have a LineageOS-supported device, you can grab a prebuilt LineageOS+MicroG image from the MicroG site.

I redacted a lengthy part of my comment since I felt it wouldn't add anything to the discussion; but it went like this: Sadly, my device (HTC 10 aka pme) is officially only on LineageOS 14.x, which is Android 7. Since I am coming from Android 8 stock ROM, I'd like to stay on Android 8 or even get Android 9. There are unofficial LineageOS builds for this (from a guy who just doesn't merge the back to LOS; which I can understand considering the additional effort - on top of all the work is already doing). But of course they lack the necessary patches for MicroG. And the MicroG only pre-builts are based on the official LineageOS build process and thus the official images. So I can only get Android 7 + MicroG with the comfortable "grab image and flash"-method.

I gave building a custom MicroG+LOS{15.1,16.0} a shot using the official MicroG docker image (just a single docker run command) and adding the unofficial builds local_manifest.xml, but those two builds failed for me and I didn't bother messing around with that docker c*. Accidentally, I did that the day before this was posted to HN, no changes since then. But I suppose I'll try a docker-less build on my machine once I feel like it.

Eventually I can just put MicroG on the unofficial build from xda-devs, since that doesn't contain GApps; but I am not sure how great the experience is when not having the MicroG/F-Droid patches. I will see.

EDIT: Regarding signature spoofing, the MicroG github wiki says:

> You can also patch your already-install ROM by flashing NanoDroid-patcher, without any computer interaction. It will auto-patch every updated ROM.

So maybe that works.


Ahh sorry, I missed that.

What may be easiest for you is actually to use Xposed. I think that can allow the signature spoofing needed for MicroG.


I used NanoDroid - worked quite well :) I'd still prefer to build a LOS with MicroG integrated, but it's difficult to get the required information from the folks at xda-dev...


"I tried replacing Android with Lineage OS on a old phone I had. Whilst that meant I didn’t have any Google Apps on my device, it was still Android underneath. Also many apps kept complaining that I didn’t have Google services on the device."

An alternative is to install microG [1], which reimplements assorted Google services. YMMV, but I've been able to run ~70% of all Android apps with no problems.

[1] https://microg.org/


What's the best hardware supported by microG? My current phone is not supported and while my previous one is, it's an original Moto G; I don't think I could handle returning to those specs, not to mention the ageing battery.


MicroG supports all Android devices, but requires manual installation.

LineageOS for microG (which is a pre-built ROM) supports all phones that are supported by LineageOS. A full list of these phones can be found here:

Sorted by device age, with pictures and specifications: https://piotr-yuxuan.github.io/choose-a-new-phone/

Sorted by model, with LineageOS version and build day (view on desktop for all columns): https://www.lineageoslog.com/build/scheduler


I actually tried it on my moto g and it runs pretty well. Everything works so far, this seems like a much better choice than buying an overpriced, discontinued, entirely closed Apple device.


I installed it one a pixel 1 xl recently and it runs great


I use an SE too. I wish Apple would sell a smaller version of their newest display, camera and chip.


What about iOS being a walled garden? Moving to a proprietary OS isn't going to safeguard the interests of data security in the long term.

Also see the rich custom rom scene for Android phones, with highly active communities building rooms for even phone models long abandoned by their manufacturers.


> Moving to a proprietary OS isn't going to safeguard the interests of data security in the long term.

They did say in TFA (or perhaps another comment) that Apple uses privacy as a marketing jab against Google since they don't really want all your datas to sell ads.

Which does seem to hold true in practice, their newest crypto-chip thing they can't access even if they want to, going to the mat to against the FBI and various other instances over the years.


I don't use any Apple services really, so I won't be sucked in to the walled garden. A lot of things I self-host and I've already checked that equivalent apps are available in iOS.


I wish people would stop using the term “overpriced”. If it was overpriced, then Apple would lower the price or stop selling it. Apple set the price. They determine if the price is correct based on their sales numbers, not your perceived value of the Bill Of Materials for the phone.


Agreed, I've even had apple fanboy friends rage about the price of apple hardware and then go right out and buy the latest thing. If you're willing to pay sticker price for a product, it is clearly not overpriced. If you want the prices to drop, stop behaving like a price insensitive userbase.


I won't ditch Android for Apple. Apple is restricted, Safari is a tragedy for the web and prices are too expensive for the value.

Somehow I dislike everything Apple represents, and reminds. The design, the simplicity which comes from restrictiveness. Even the lightest Linux window manager like i3wn, is better than all of os/x does.

I will just wait till a true open source option comes.


Simply install Firefox and your problems are over. That's what I do on my iPad, and what I intend to do on the SE when it arrives.


Firefox on iOS still uses the system WebKit. I disagree with the premise that Safari is a tragedy for the web though.


The best thing about Android is that you can change it (Huawei is useless). Acquire root permissions and any app can be deleted. There is also an option to install a fully free and open source Google Services implementation (if you need them so much). Finally, notifications are caused by vendor specific problems, clean Android is fully functional.


This guy was a saviour. I was poking round his blog after reading this, and found his review for elementaryOS where he mentions how to get the system tray working. I've been searching for months to get it working.


I remember when Ubuntu tried making a mobile phone OS( Ubuntu Touch ), but it never was a commercial success. I was extremely dissatisfied to hear about Google and their phone upload requests. It makes me question whether Android is a good choice after all( not that I agree with Apple, either ). That is the problem with modern-day tech, there is not enough choice in the market. Everything is either bought out or choked out by larger, dominating manufacturers, i.e. Google & Apple.


I felt Ubuntu gave up far too soon.


I would use Ubuntu Touch tomorrow if I could.

I think there's still an opportunity for such devices.


I installed ubports a year ago on a nexus 5 and it ran great. The only reason I switched to lineage was for authy and anki. They really did give up too soon


After my old cell phone broke and just after I bought a new desktop computer, my newer cell phone broke bad right after warranty. It was hard to justify another outlay of money so I bought a Nokia 3310.

Pretty close to a dumb cell phone. For the most part nothing in my life got worse. It isn't that hard to ditch a real smart phone..well if your life is spent in front of a computer for your job anyway.

However, the Nokia 3310 is not a good dumb cell phone. The text messaging application is broken for messages for group messages and and multiple messages from the same person in a row. Basic stuff. Text messaging with the old style number pad entry is really as horrible as we remember. Surely there are better alternatives for key entry on a dumb phone in this age. Despite this, it does its job as a cell phone. It almost always has a charge, and it gets reception where my old cell phone would not, and despite its size you can always hear its ringer. So there are pluses. It does contain a web browser and 3G connectivity. I can use its web browser to read HN, and I do pretty frequently, but on most sites the formatting is always horribly wrong. Clicking a link frequently takes you to a different address than was clicked.


I can't go to Apple because it's clear they never again make a phone with a headphone jack, and I require a phone with a headphone jack.


Personally I've ditched Google services (like GMail and contacts) from a little while, however I do not find any viable alternatives to Android not as a phone, not as a limited mobile MUA but as a personal navigation devices.

I tried both FOSS PND and classic TomTom's/Garmin's etc, none of them while having few strong points can really beat GMail (for now).

I hope Purism can create a FOSS phone but I'm not too optimistic since many tried it and fail, including many with far more resources than Pursim but for now change a jail for another only for background traffic it's not worth my money... I simply choose an economic device (MotoG 4G) and stick with it as long as it will work...


Honestly, who really cares that much about what smartphone you have these days? You have one with a good enough battery and the same apps as anyone else, and the speed is all fast enough to not notice. At this point the technology has converged.


> You have one with a good enough battery and the same apps as anyone else, and the speed is all fast enough to not notice. At this point the technology has converged.

Sure, which is why we're seeing a shift towards choosing a phone based on your personal/philosophical/marketing beliefs about how your personal data is treated instead, which is what at least part of this article talks about in justifying the switch.


Yup. I just bought a $250 Moto X4 to replace my Nexus 6 and it feels faster. My Nexus 6 cost $450 a couple years old, and my new phone was new.

I don't see any reason to pay $1000 for a phone these days, and I probably could have gotten the same experience from the Moto G at $200.

I just want a phone that:

- can last the entire day - can run a browser reasonably well - has decent reception - will get security updates for at least 2 years (expected lifetime of batteries)

I don't need a fancy camera, next-gen graphics, or super high DPI screen, I just need a phone that's reasonably reliable, and even the bottom tier phones are more than capable.


For me the camera is the main thing: smartphone cameras have been getting really good. Examples of my phones:

2017, Pixel 1: https://www.jefftk.com/pictures/2017/20171228_091058.jpg

2017, Galaxy S6: https://www.jefftk.com/pictures/2017/20170312_123314_030.jpg

2014, Moto X: https://www.jefftk.com/pictures/2014/stevie-lily-ball.jpg

2011, Galaxy SII: https://www.jefftk.com/images/2011/all/IMG_20120115_202514.j...


Really in line with my own thinking. I bought an iPhone SE 6 months ago for the reasons he stated. The one thing I dislike is that you don't have a Finder type of functionality. But there are some 3rd party apps that do it well enough (I think one was called Documents).

Also it is easy to find a protectable huge case for these phones since they already exists for eons in the digital industry. I sometimes drop my phone in front of people to see what they are missing: the absence of broken screens.


The Apple app "Files" (which might not be installed by default) may be of interest as Finder-like functionality - it lets you browse, search and manage files stored on the device, in iCloud and in 3rd party services (Dropbox, Google Drive, FTP/SCP via an app like Transmit, etc.)


Based on the stated concerns, data sent to Google, bundled apps that can't be removed...

And given the author's interest in FOSS...

Really interesting Lineage failed. He claims apps kept nagging about the lack of Google app support. How pervasive is that? Could he have just found a couple app alternatives rather than throwing them all out at once?

It's hard to disentangle whether the problems we have are with our phones, with the OS, or with the app ecosystem.

(Quick edit for clarity.)


As someone who also tried Googleless Android before giving Android a kick to the curb, it's often specific service clients with no alternative. Like I needed Skype, and despite Microsoft being a Google competitor, their app didn't work without Play Services.

And with security being key to me, I'm not interested on depending on a third party hack with all my sensitive data.


Makes sense, thanks for that insight.

Yeah, helping third parties engage in signature spoofing does sound far from ideal.


Google has entangled its Play framework deeply into the AOSP, obviously on purpose, not necessarily to discourage ROM developer, but I'm guessing primarily to discourage OEMs from changing AOSP too much, as well as slow down Android fork-developers such as Amazon.


I bought a Pixel 2. It had Google system apps, not Huawei system apps.

My last phone was an iPhone 6 plus. It had Apple system apps that I couldn't uninstall.

I don't get it.


I was hoping the author was going to list alternative stable mobile OSes with privacy and users in mind, or maybe lay down the reasons for starting a project hard forking an existing OS or something...but he literally just said he wants to move to iOS???

Honestly, (and personally) I feel better knowing that I am running an Android ROM with publicly available code on Github than any iOS any day


I think /e/ ( https://e.foundation) promising in that respect, and in the longer run maybe puri.sm Librem5.


Had the same problem with my S9+, battery would just drop throughout the day. I ended up disabling a bunch of Samsung apps and trying to find the others that were giving me wake locks and now I can happily say I get almost two days, with 6 to 8 hours of screen in time.


The "ditching Google" guy can't find a way to stop using Android Pay or Google plus? Using Google plus means your still 100% in Google's ecosystem. These are also 2 of the easiest things to stop using.


Google does let you turn off location tracking and web search history and I believe them. Apple has a much higher walled garden, do you have to trust them completely? I am on Android and have considered this.


I see a pro Apple sentiment here for privacy, just my 2 cents.

Apple is constantly raising their prices ( asp ) and they won't share unit sales in their next stock report.

So I'm curious what this will do for the future.


I made the opposite move last month. Ditched my iphone 6+ and went with a Samsung Galaxy S9+.

Apple soured me with their bullshit around throttling the CPU to make the battery last the same. No wonder my phone was performing like shit.

But here's the bad news, this new phone I got is still not so hot. I still run out of battery despite working from home and only using the phone for google maps and calendar/slack when I'm out of office. I don't game on it or anything.

For my next phone I want to find a much more inexpensive phone, swappable battery, with a long-ass battery time. I would go with a Nokia but I don't know if their classic phone supports google maps.


I managed to get Google Maps working on my Nokia 3310 3G


Did you? How long was it loading? :-))


Did you try replacing the iPhone battery?


Why not try the $29 battery swap?


I would rather use Sailfish on a Sony Xperia then. Privacy, cheaper, faster, longer battery life. Can also install Android apps.


He missed the thing that's getting me really close to leaving Android after being a devout user since the G1 (with a short 3-5 month stint on an Iphone 6). I really, really dislike IOS and I absolutely don't want to be more tied to Apple than I am with my MBP and Hackintosh (technically I'm just tied to OSX right now).

RCS (the Android attempt at iMessage) is STILL not a real-world thing. Txt messaging and MMS on Android is still an absolute joke. My Samsung S8 has, what, a 12-megapixel camera (I never look at these specs anymore) that can take incredible pictures and videos but if I want to send them to someone I have to jump through a bunch of hoops. Upload them to dropbox, share it, send my friend the link, hope they click it vs it just playing in their messaging app.

If I send that video via text message it gets compressed to a 500kb blurry mess. I frequently have to explain to people that Androids don't take terrible pictures, my phone takes amazing pictures. The problem is when I send them to you I'm limited to the maximums of text messaging because phone providers haven't rolled out RCS. It also doesn't help that the Snapchat app back when I used to use it just took a screenshot of our camera app. That further shouted, "Android sucks at pictures, what a peasant phone!"

Tmobile has RCS now but it only works between Tmobile Android users who are using the stock messaging app. They might even need a recent phone with a specific version of Android, I'm not sure there. They rolled this out in June 2018. 2018! How long has imessage been around? And I still have never seen it actually kick in because 90% of the people I txt are on iphones. I also HAVE to use the built-in Messaging app to get this because the RCS API wasn't (not sure if it is now) public so other messaging apps couldn't send over RCS. If I use the Samsung messaging app then I lose the web messaging feature that the Google Messaging app gives me. The Google Messaging app is terrible, though, it doesn't even have the ability to click a person's name and see all of the media shared between us like the good messaging apps do. I have to literally scroll and scroll and scroll to see a picture that I've been sent.

There are all these tradeoffs just for messaging. Do I want an easy web experience so I don't have to pick my phone up every time I get a text? Then I lose the file library when you click a contacts name. Do I want RCS? I'm not even sure which Messaging app to use for it. It's either Samsung Messaging or I need to download Tmobile messaging.

I don't follow it but I don't believe ATT/Verizon are even going to roll out RCS, I believe they have their own implementation coming (somedayTM). Unless their "Advanced Messaging" is just RCS. Will that work with Tmobile users? Or will it just be between ATT customers?

I have plenty of other complaints about Android lately. Privacy, per-app notifications are a mess.

I LOVE the customization of Android and the lack of it is what I dislike about IOS but I'm to the point where I just want a smooth UX.

edit: Before I get the "Use Whatsapp/etc" that's just not an option. Google Hangouts was SOMEWHAT ubiquitous between my friends a few years ago and was great but if I'm taking pictures of my house for a contractor, or shooting pictures of my Jeep offroading to random Jeep friends and what not I'm not going to go "Are you on WhatsApp?" each time. I know these limits are because of carriers and not Google/Android specifically.


If you have a smartphone, people invariably have one or two messaging apps in my experience. If it is not Whatsapp then it is something else. You need to figure out what everyone in your circle is using and switch to it or resort to sending blurry SMS. I've found sharing google photos links is much easier since it backs up anyway.


> If you have a smartphone, people invariably have one or two messaging apps in my experience. If it is not Whatsapp then it is something else

Yes, it's called iMessage.


Maybe efforts should be redirected to google-free android based OSes (postmarket, or the right-now-quantic copperhead ...)


I'm hoping SailfishOS is in a good state for OnePlus 3 when it looses official support from OnePlus.


It's rather common knowledge that most vendors that aren't Google or Nokia put a load of crap ware on their devices that can't be removed. Duh.

He also hasn't really ditched Android yet, since his iPhone hasn't even been delivered yet.

I don't get the point of this blog post.


I am not sure how people are figuring this out now. It's only common sense given googles business model and their history that your android phone is nothing more than a tracking and data generation device. I am sure Apple has it's flaws but Google uses Android to double down on selling your info.

Be smart, pick up an old Blackberry 10 device and use its Android emulator.


How do you feel about the android-based blackberrys?


I heard they are pretty good and are a bit more secure, but the underlying system is still android.


The problem is not Google itself, the problem are the Google Services coming with every phone (often plus two Facebook Apps, plus Instagram, plus some manufacturer specific stuff - mine was spamming me once a month with "Why don't you buy a new theme for HTC Sense"). As mentioned by me & others, you can replace those with MicroG, though YMMV.


> I’m never going to completely get rid of Google, that’s impossible at this point

And here's the crux of why I just don't bother, then again it's not really that big of a deal to me that I'm the "product".

I'll probably regret it some day, but I'm hoping that I won't.


As they say, when there's a will - there's a way.

The author clearly did not evaluate all of the alternatives, and simply jumped from one walled garden to another.

Bloatware, adware, and battery life are cited as his reasons. But he could have rooted his phone in 5 minutes then deleted all the bloatware and google apps in an instant. Add microG and adaway on top, and you have a nice ad-free system with much better battery life.

All he had to do was research.


> All he had to do was research.

And that's the problem. One platform offers, mostly, sane defaults with strong privacy guarantees and no bloatware, the other requires you to invest time and effort, first to research, then enact.


> strong privacy guarantees

This can change any day. And if you think that's impossible, look at Windows or Google Chrome. Most users just will happily trade privacy for convenience.

> the other requires you to invest time and effort, first to research, then enact

This is classic learning curve = bad. Rust is also harder than JavaScript, and Vim is harder than Notepad. What matters is whether its worth it.

Some people don't see a problem with being at the whim of a megacorp and not having true ownership of their devices. That's normal. After all, Chrome and Windows have huge marketshare too.

Putting all the eggs in Apple's basket is near-sighted at best.


> This can change any day.

It can, but seeing as Apple have staked the farm on running things locally and respecting privacy as a USP it's doubtful. I'll take "privacy protecting today, but maybe in the future I'll have to switch" over "I'm the product" any day of the week.

And yes, a learning curve CAN be bad. There is so much conflicting information in this thread alone that shows shorting the wheat from the chaff is not easy, and at best people might buy into snake oil solutions, at worst be in a less secure state than they otherwise may have been before.


I built Android phones for a living for many years and I could probably root a device very quickly and get it up and running just like in the old days, but I seriously cannot be bothered anymore. Only viable alternative for me right now is an Apple device. I wish there was an alternative that just worked out of the box - and I even work for Apple these days...


All it takes is booting into fasboot and running `fastboot oem unlock`. If that's too much for some, I don't blame them for choosing Apple.


What I want to be able to do with a phone:

- calling

- texting

- taking pictures

- occasionally recording sound

- music

- directions

- occasionally, an alarm clock, a calendar and notes

- web surfing is a nice to have and I use it now that I have it.

- the ability to run a Debian Chroot and an X server is a nice to have.

Lineage 15 (soon 16) with latest updates, without Google apps does that brilliantly well, and I get a solid 6 to 10 days of battery life.

No emails (but k-9 mail works well if needed, and the webmail too), no chat. Chat would be possible (and I will probably want that in the future) with many applications like Signal, Riot, Conversations, maybe even WhatsApp (I haven't tested - not interested).

Directions with OsmAnd gives me great offline functionality, allowing for a 2€/month phone plan.

I get all notifications I want in a timely manner, which are texts and calls. No more.

edit: Oh, and installing apps without the phone needing any email address.

On iOS, I would not have such a freedom.

Next step: a blob-free phone, or no phone at all.


"Most of the bloatware on Android devices I’ve used over the years cannot be removed as they’re marked as system apps."

I believe you can use the Application Manager in Android to disable any of these Apps, even though you cannot remove them.

Just don't disable an App the phone actually needs.




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