/e/OS is better than Android. You have to try it

Screenshots from a mobile phone app that controls privacy settings including how or if the user is being tracked

Photography: Scott Gilbertson

While I love the privacy features of /e/OS and have even fiddled with my geodata most of the time, the real killer feature for me is the /e/OS app store, which is called App Lounge. When I used LineageOS, I installed apps from several different app stores. There’s F-Droid, which hosts open source apps, and Uptodown, which some apps I use support (Vivaldi being the main one), and then I had a few I could only get through the Google Play Store. As anyone using LineageOS can tell you, it’s a lot to keep track of.

/e/OS App Lounge combines apps from various sources, including the Play Store and F-Droid, among others, making them all available in one place. (You can also choose to show only open source apps.)

Also nice is the option to stay anonymous when connecting to any of the app stores, though you’ll need to sign in to get the apps you’ve paid for since they’re tied to your user ID. Anonymous login also failed me several times, giving me token errors. This is one of the few places I’ve had problems with /e/OS.

App Lounge uses a familiar design that looks like Google Play, but adds a few features. The first is that App Lounge provides privacy information for each app, rating it on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is terrible for privacy and 10 means generally no trackers. App Lounge also rates the apps that require permissions. The fewer permissions (like access to your photos or geographic data), the higher the rating. It’s a good way to provide complex information in a way that anyone can easily analyze.

In a win for the larger Android-alt community, /e/OS claims to be working on making App Lounge available as an app that can be installed anywhere. (Meanwhile, the Aurora Store is a nearby alternative.)

What doesn’t work

As much as I love /e/OS, it’s not perfect. I had some minor issues with the geodata. I live on the road so my location changes every two weeks. Sometimes /e/OS is slow to figure this out and the Maps app will show me search results based on where I’ve been in the past week. The included Maps app itself is still rough around the edges (and uses some proprietary code). It’s better and more accurate than any other map app I’ve tried, but it’s not as good as Google Maps. I don’t care what you think about Google; its Maps app is second to none. I still use it as a backup when the default /e/OS app doesn’t find what I need.

The other big missing feature for me is speech to text. Currently, /e/OS ships with no word-to-text at all. There is a good overview of the options available on the /e/OS forums. Neither is ideal, but I’ve managed to get by with a combination of Sayboard and the stock /e/OS keyboard. The good news is that an integrated speech-to-text feature is on the roadmap for /e/OS in 2024. This would also open the door to an /e/OS assistant, which is currently unavailable. The project is unclear what form this might take, given the privacy implications of interacting with a server to answer questions, but one possibility is a large language model that works locally.

#eOS #Android
Image Source : www.wired.com

Screenshots from a mobile phone app that controls privacy settings including how or if the user is being tracked

Photography: Scott Gilbertson

While I love the privacy features of /e/OS and have even fiddled with my geodata most of the time, the real killer feature for me is the /e/OS app store, which is called App Lounge. When I used LineageOS, I installed apps from several different app stores. There’s F-Droid, which hosts open source apps, and Uptodown, which some apps I use support (Vivaldi being the main one), and then I had a few I could only get through the Google Play Store. As anyone using LineageOS can tell you, it’s a lot to keep track of.

/e/OS App Lounge combines apps from various sources, including the Play Store and F-Droid, among others, making them all available in one place. (You can also choose to show only open source apps.)

Also nice is the option to stay anonymous when connecting to any of the app stores, though you’ll need to sign in to get the apps you’ve paid for since they’re tied to your user ID. Anonymous login also failed me several times, giving me token errors. This is one of the few places I’ve had problems with /e/OS.

App Lounge uses a familiar design that looks like Google Play, but adds a few features. The first is that App Lounge provides privacy information for each app, rating it on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is terrible for privacy and 10 means generally no trackers. App Lounge also rates the apps that require permissions. The fewer permissions (like access to your photos or geographic data), the higher the rating. It’s a good way to provide complex information in a way that anyone can easily analyze.

In a win for the larger Android-alt community, /e/OS claims to be working on making App Lounge available as an app that can be installed anywhere. (Meanwhile, the Aurora Store is a nearby alternative.)

What doesn’t work

As much as I love /e/OS, it’s not perfect. I had some minor issues with the geodata. I live on the road so my location changes every two weeks. Sometimes /e/OS is slow to figure this out and the Maps app will show me search results based on where I’ve been in the past week. The included Maps app itself is still rough around the edges (and uses some proprietary code). It’s better and more accurate than any other map app I’ve tried, but it’s not as good as Google Maps. I don’t care what you think about Google; its Maps app is second to none. I still use it as a backup when the default /e/OS app doesn’t find what I need.

The other big missing feature for me is speech to text. Currently, /e/OS ships with no word-to-text at all. There is a good overview of the options available on the /e/OS forums. Neither is ideal, but I’ve managed to get by with a combination of Sayboard and the stock /e/OS keyboard. The good news is that an integrated speech-to-text feature is on the roadmap for /e/OS in 2024. This would also open the door to an /e/OS assistant, which is currently unavailable. The project is unclear what form this might take, given the privacy implications of interacting with a server to answer questions, but one possibility is a large language model that works locally.

#eOS #Android
Image Source : www.wired.com

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