A lot of different devices with Internet access now collect information about their users, which companies then use in a variety of ways. Smartphones sometimes seem to know about us more than we know about ourselves. Not everyone likes this state of affairs, so sometimes there are enthusiasts who produce smartphones that are able to ensure the privacy of their users’ data in the first place. Murena is one such example.
As in other similar stories, the company began with the fact that its founder wanted his data to remain solely his data. Therefore, starting in 2017, Gael Duval started working on his own smartphone with an operating system that was not supposed to send any information about it to any third parties. That’s how the /e/OS V1 operating system was created.
It is based on variations of Android LineageOS and combines the functions of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Most Google services on the system are replaced with MicroG. The system also uses its own search engine, DNS and NTP, which are not tied to Google’s servers.
Of course, the system has the necessary set of basic applications (messages, calendar, maps, contacts, etc.) that are not related to Google. For example, navigation services are based on Mozilla Location Serveces and OpenStreetMap. Moreover, the company is working on developing its own voice assistant Elivia-AI.
A replacement for Google Play has been the App Lounge, which is not yet fully separate from Google, although must anonymize user data (except for paid applications). For open-source projects, the CleanAPK API is used, which Duval plans to replace in the future with his own solution.
The developer also offers its own cloud services Murena Cloud, where the user can save their files, there is a mail service and office package from OnlyOffice. However, in the free version there is very little space – 1 GB. For €20/year you can expand it to 20 GB.
In the manufacturer’s store you can see familiar names, such as Fairphone. Of course, they add Murena to the name and sell a device with their own system already installed. There you can even see a refurbished-version of the Samsung Galaxy S9. The manufacturer named their own smartphone Murena One. And here, too, it is worth noting that with a price of €349, it is, of course, non-premium smartphone.
But here is an interesting nuance. For fans of such experiments, the manufacturer has prepared a list of almost two and a half hundred smartphones and tablets that can have /e/OS installed. It’s free and doesn’t require a brand new device (for example, there’s a 2012 Nexus 4).