Smartphones

Murena, the first Android smartphone for privacy, arrives

Murena, the first Android smartphone for privacy, arrives

Murena One

moray eel

If you value privacy and use a smartphone, you have a problem. Apple and Google continuously collect data about you. A Vanderbilt University study found, for example, that Android sends data to Google even if your phone is idle with Chrome running in the background 340 times a day.

moray eel and Mandrake Linux founder Gael Duval was fed up in 2017. He wanted his data to be his data, and he wanted open source software. Almost five years later, Duval and his co-developers released the Murena One X2. It’s the first high-end Android phone using open-source /e/OS Fork Android to hit the market.

Murena One’s privacy core is /e/OS V1. There have been many attempts to create an Android alternative based on Google and Apple’s iOS – Ubuntu One, FirefoxOS and Windows Mobile – but all of them have failed. Duval’s approach isn’t to reinvent the wheel of the mobile operating system, but to clean Android of its creaky Google privacy-invasive features and replace them with privacy-friendly ones.

To do this, Duval began by Lineage OS — an Android-based operating system, which grew out of the failure CyanogenMod Android Fork.

It also integrates features from the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) source code trees.

In /e/OS, most (but not all) Google services have been removed and replaced with MicroG Services. MicroG replaces Google’s libraries with purely open source implementations without hooks to Google’s services. This includes libraries and apps that provide Google Play, Maps, Geolocation, and Messaging services for Android apps.

Additionally, /e/OS does its best to free you from higher-level Google services. For example, Google’s default search engine has been changed to Murena’s meta-search engine. Other Internet services, such as Domain Name Server (DNS) and Network Time Protocol (NTP), use servers other than Google.

Above the operating system, you’ll find Google-free apps. This includes a web browser; an email client; a messaging application; a calendar; a contact manager; and a cartographic application based on Mozilla Location Services and OpenStreetMap. Although he’s not here yet, Murena is also working on its own version of Google Assistant, Elivia-AI..

You can also run many Android apps, but not all of them. You will find these apps on the operating system Application Fair. For most commercial apps, App Lounge now connects directly to Google Play Store. Of course, to buy such applications, the easiest way is to use a classic Google account, or in totally anonymous mode. For open source applications from F-Droidand Progressive Web Apps (PWA), it connects to the CleanAPK APIs. Duval added that “we will remove this dependency on CleanAPK and host our own proxy-cache for open source apps.”

With an emphasis on privacy, the App Store also gives apps a privacy rating. It informs you about the privacy settings of the program and about the information shared by the application. Whether an app’s usefulness is worth its privacy trade-offs is up to you. But with this information, Duval told me, “You can make an informed decision.

There’s still one big problem: the App Lounge still depends on you logging in with your Google account. In short, the App Lounge is primarily a gateway to apps from the Google Store. Murena assures me that the Lounge anonymizes your data, unless you use paid apps. Still, it’s annoying for people who want to cut all ties with Google.

The fundamental problem is this: Murena is doing everything it can to separate its operating system and applications from Google, but it cannot, for now, replace the e-commerce and software store system. from Google.

You can however download only programs without Google login, but there are not many of them. If you go this route, you probably won’t be able to use many of the apps you currently use every day.

As for itself, /e/OS does not capture any user logs, application usage, or user location tracking. And, /e/OS does its best to protect your accounts from Google’s surveillance methods.

For example, most applications rely on cloud backends for their services. Murena therefore replaced Google Cloud services with its Cloud moray eel In place. You’ll find storage, email, and even an online office suite, powered by open-source. OnlyDesktop. And, unlike its corporate competitors, Murena promises that its cloud services (just like its phone and operating system) put privacy first.

Murena Cloud comes with 1GB of free storage; it also offers inexpensive storage plans from 20 euros per year for 20 GB of storage.

If you just look at the hardware specs, the Murena One is a good 4G LTE smartphone, but not exceptional. It is powered by an eight-core MediaTek processor backed by 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. If you need more storage, you can always add an SD card. It comes with a 6.5 inch screen.

The cameras are cool. On the screen side, there is a 25 megapixel camera for selfies. On the back are three cameras with resolutions of 5, 8 and 48 megapixels.

The phone also includes a dual SIM slot so you can enjoy two phone lines with one phone. As someone who is starting to do a lot of international business travel again, this is a very handy feature. The Murena One is compatible with European carriers and most US and Canadian carriers.

The Murena One will launch in June in the US, Canada, Europe, UK and Switzerland at a cost $369.

If you want another phone, Murena works with Fairphonethe social enterprise that designs sustainable phones. gigaset, Teracubeand other phone refurbishers also offer a range of Murena smartphones with /e/ OS, with mid to high-end specs, to suit all budgets.

You can also possibly download and install /e/ if you have one 240 different smartphone models. This includes phones from Google, HTC, Motorola, OnePlus, Samsung and Xiaomi. It is not available from an OEM or carrier at this time. The operating system is free.