This Android Version Promises a Mobile World Without Google

This version of Android promises to give you the control over data accumulated on the mobile. 

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Tech News
3 min read
Could this version of Android ensure the safety of our data? 
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Ever since Android was bought over by Google in 2007, the mobile operating system has gone from strength to strength, becoming the preferred software for smartphones.

But in 2018, people have expressed reservations about how technology giants like Google, Amazon and even Facebook, strive to get a hold of our data for various purposes.

With a growing demand for smartphones, data has somewhat lost its value. The sheer openness of Android, at the same time, has meant that flavours of the software are myriad and user-friendly, but are they data-friendly? No prizes for guessing that one.

Which is why Gael Duval is on a mission to not only give users an Android version without depending on Google and its services, but also while keeping their data safe.

Out of his own experience with iPhone and Google’s products, Gael realised that these major brands are catching user data to fuel their businesses and even tracking their whereabouts and habits.

To counter this, Gael is working on a customised Android version called Eelo, which promises to give us pure Android experience on mobile, without eyeing our data.

To make Eelo happen, I started to test all open source components that could be used to build a viable and desirable alternative. Then, I thought it would be a good idea to launch a Kickstarter to finance eelo.io’s early stages and see if we could catch some attention from people.
Gael Duval, software engineer and entrepreneur 
Gael is already testing out Eelo on few devices. 
Gael is already testing out Eelo on few devices. 
(Photo Courtesy: Eelo)

I managed to get in touch with Duval to understand his focus and idea behind Eelo, and even though his creation is still in its early stage, the clarity in his mind about the product is somewhat comforting.

The first thing we have started is to design a new interface for the mobile system, because I want it to be as easy as the iPhone. The plan is have a smartphone without any piece of Google inside, with default online and pre-privacy web services.
Gael Duval

Android Without Google? Not as Easy as it Sounds

Gael is ambitious, but he also realises it’s not going to be easy convincing people to move away from the comfort of Google and its services.

Asking people to cut off their alliance with Google and its core products is not going to be easy, and except for China, Android has never been used without Google. 

But he’s hopeful that gradually people will start realising the need to restrict the amount of data that giants like Google attain from our daily functions.

He has already worked out on a few prototype versions of Eelo.io that comes devoid of apps like Chrome, Gmail and Google Search, among others, and with the right level of backing from Kickstarter, Duval hopes to fulfil his mission.

He deems it is possible with alternatives like Firefox and Signal (a secure messaging app) along with mainstream apps like Twitter and Skype, which will also be compatible.

People will be able to use mainstream applications on Eelo. We will have a repository of all those apps, with a label, explanations, education about their quality, privacy, etc, and people will be free to choose, consciously, what they are installing and using. 
Gael Duval

After being part of the Linux establishment all these years, Duval is sure that fragmentation of Android (or Linux distro) is the reason why developers like him can work on secured product like Eelo.

Summing up this interaction, Gael had strong words to share, advocating for safe data and showing his urge for people to see its vitality.

We all have to tell people about what’s really wrong with the current situation of user’s data, that are continuously pushed to the data giants servers worldwide. People need to realise that their data is THEIR data. 
Gael Duval
Cyanogen running on Yu Yureka Plus phone didn’t make it to the end. 
Cyanogen running on Yu Yureka Plus phone didn’t make it to the end. 
(Photo: Yu)

While it’s still early days for Duval and Eelo, but he’s already thinking about working with mobile brands to bundle his software version, much akin to how guys at Cyanogen managed to work with brands like OnePlus a few years back.

(We Indians have much to talk about these days. But what would you tell India if you had the chance? Pick up the phone and write or record your Letter To India. Don’t be silent, tell her how you feel. Mail us your letter at lettertoindia@thequint.com. We’ll make sure India gets your message.)

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