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/e/OS is better than Android. you should try it

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Screenshots of a mobile phone app that controls privacy settings, including how and if the user is tracked.

Photography: Scott Gilbertson

While I like the privacy features of /e/OS and have even spoofed my geodata much of the time, the really important 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 is F-droidthat hosts open source applications, and Top to bottom, which are supported by a few apps I use (Vivaldi being the main one), and then I had a few that I could only get through the Google Play Store. As anyone who uses LineageOS can tell you, there’s a lot to keep track of.

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

The option to remain anonymous when connecting to any of the app stores is also nice, although you will need to log in to get the apps you paid for as they are linked to your user ID. Also anonymous login failed 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 layout that looks similar to Google Play but adds a few features. The first is that App Lounge provides privacy information about each app, rating it on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is horrible for privacy and 10 generally means no trackers. App Lounge also categorizes apps based on the permissions they require. The fewer permissions (such as 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 it.

In a victory for the Android alternative community at large, /e/OS claims to be working on making App Lounge available as an app that can be installed anywhere. (Meanwhile, the Aurora Store It’s a close alternative.)

What doesn’t work

As much as I love /e/OS, it’s not perfect. I’ve had some minor problems with the geographic data. I live on the road so my location changes every two weeks. Sometimes /e/OS takes a while to figure this out and the Maps app will show me search results based on where I was last week. The included Maps app itself is still clunky (and uses some proprietary code). It’s better and more accurate than any other mapping app I’ve tried, but it’s not as good as Google Maps. I don’t care what you think of Google; Their Maps app is unmatched. I still use it as a backup when the default /e/OS app can’t find what I need.

The other big feature I’m missing is speech to text conversion. At this time, /e/OS is delivered without speech-to-text conversion. there is a good summary of available options on the /e/OS forums. None of them are ideal, but I’ve managed to get by with a combination of saying board and the standard /e/OS keyboard. The good news is that there is a built-in speech-to-text conversion feature. on the roadmap for /e/OS in 2024. This will also open the door to an /e/OS wizard, which is currently unavailable. It’s unclear to the project what form this might take, given the privacy implications of interacting with a server to answer queries, but one possibility is a large language model that runs locally.

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