Designed to break the dominance of Apple's and Google's walled systems, eelo is based on LineageOS but takes it a step further than that.
At its core, eelo is more than just an operating system as plans are underway to establish free, open and secure web services next to it. Services like email, cloud storage and online office tools are mentioned explicitly on the Kickstarter project page.
Basically, what Gaël Duval tries to accomplish here is to create a product that you can use without having to rely on Google or Apple at all. You can still use services by Google for instance, but the deep integration of Google code that is not open but proprietary is removed.
He wants to "reconquer his privacy, and make sure that his data remains his data".
The eelo project will release attractive "privacy-enabled" smartphone ROMs and smartphones for the average user, with associated web-services.
Google designed Android in a way that it is difficult to remove certain Google modules from the device without impacting functionality by a lot.
There is Google Play, Google Services, and other Google modules that are required for a lot of things. Good news is that eelo found alternatives for some already, and has plans to use replacements for others.
F-Droid and APKPure are two great options for instance to get apps on the device without using Google Play, but booth serve a different purpose (APKPure official free apps, F-Droid open source apps). The creation of a single application store that offers the best of both worlds would make things a lot easier for users. This has been added to the project's roadmap.
Google Services is another major part of Android that Google uses to provide a variety of services for the system and apps. There is an alternative for that as well however called MicroG, and it may be integrated into eelo as well.
The three-year roadmap highlights some interesting tidbits that are not mentioned on the Kickstarted campaign. The team plans to release eelo OS for PC in year 2 for intance, and release its own smartphone in year 3.
The eelo project will be non-profit, but eelo considers selling some smartphones of its own or offering premium services to finance the project. Since it is a community project, it encourages developers and anyone else to contribute.
The Kickstarter project asks for €25,000 (about $29,600). As is the case on Kickstarter, you can pledge any amount. Rewards start at $4 and you do get some bonuses in the higher pledge levels such as more online storage or an email account.
The current pledge is at €5,265 at the time of writing and after one day. That's a good start for the project as there are still 29 days to go.
An open alternative to Google's and Apple's dominance of the smartphone market is much needed, and eelo could become a project that achieves that. It is likely that eelo will remain a nice project that attracts users who value privacy; I could be wrong here, but I can only see it get more traction if the devs manage to find a way to make the installation of the eelo ROM on devices as simple of an action as installing a new app on the device.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.