/e/ First Time Users' Experience - a little collection of feedbacks

Recently, I was introducing /e/ to various friends and acquaintances. The feedback I got was quite diverse, but overall very positive, but as well a lot of unexpected questions were raised and some critical feedback. I decided to write-up a few things - as a basis for further discussion with the community - and as input for the /e/ team.
Personally, I do not share all of the remarks but maybe they are of help to understand what kind of quesions might come up with the publication of /e/ 1.0.
I am aware, some of the issues were already raised elsewhere in this forum - apologies for that.

The feedback I got was very positive: “Geat idea”, “very much needed”. It was considered positive that all apps tried out - even the ones from Google (i.e. gMaps) - just worked.

An immediate criticism was articulated about the look & feel. Some quotes: “It looks a bit like IOS” but “it feels more bulky” (an iPhone user), “The installed apps, seem just somehow assembled but have no homogeneous design”, the Widget page “looks really ugly after having installed some more widgets, it has no homogeneous appearance at all like for instance IOS”, “the system is far too slow” (referring to the Bliss launcher - before last update), “The system doesn’t have to be extremely feature-rich, rather the contrary, but it should look like one built, working smoothly and quick”.

/e/ settings

*" Why isn’t there in the Settings a sub menu for all /e/ settings?"

  • "In the Settings is written that the phone is running Lineage OS. What is Lineage OS? Why there are no clearer references to /e/?"
  • "In the ‘after first boot dialogue’ the phone may be registered with /e/, that’s where on other phones you register with Google. That’s good to have a similar process. But I did log in to /e/ at the moment. At a later moment I didn’t know where this could be easily caught up. Why isn’t there an option ‘/e/ Settings’ in the Settings menu as you have that with the Google subfolder in the Google phones?
  • "What is MicroG, do I need that?"
  • "Will I be able to prevent the installation of apps and to lock Settings (in order to use an /e/ phone as a first phone for kids?)"

My conclusion: A sub-menu in the Settings with all privacy related issues wouldn’t be a bad idea. Maybe hide what people may confuse (the MicroG menu) or embed it in a way that it becomes better understandable what that is?

/e/ and privacy issues (et al)

  • “I like the idea that /e/ protects my data, but I don’t feel unsafe with my current phone.”
  • “I don’t understand what /e/ actually does.”
  • “I like the idea of /e/ but I don’t understand what it actually distinguishes from other phones. It would be good to get a manual or a dedicated website explaining to normal people what /e/ actually does and how we can protect us even further.”
  • "Will /e/ come out of the box fully protected with built-in ad-blocker and antivirus?"
  • “Google is free because I pay with my data, but why is /e/ for free?” “What’s their business model”, “Who is behind /e/? Just an NGO? They want to compete with Google for clients???”
  • “Who is actually financing /e/ foundation?”, “How I can I be sure that they won’t be sold to on of the major Internet giants tomorrow?”
  • "Will I still be able to log-in into my Google account on /e/?"
  • "How to I move my data to /e/, will I need to/will I be able to erase my data efficiently with Google?"
  • "I understand that /e/ helps to get rid of Google but will /e/ prevent as well the leakage to Facebook and others?"
  • "How do I get apps that cannot be found in the future /e/ app store, can I still install Google Play store?"
  • "Do I need to register with /e/? or is it optional", "May I register with my current email address or do I need a new one from /e/?", "May I register with a Gmail address?"
  • "What does /e/ do to protect my private data that are uploaded into their cloud?"
  • "Where are the /e/ cloud services based? What jurisdiction?"

My conclusion: In terms of privacy, most people I was talking to were less concerned about the possibility of being spied out but rather about the dimensions of leakage of private data. I felt as well that people were concerned about this leakage but that’s more a dodgy gut feeling without really understanding how that lwkag actually concretely happens on a standard Google phone. I think it could be good to accompany the publishing of /e/ 1.0 with a campaign or/and publications on the /e/ website (addressing non-geeks) explaining the status quo and what /e/ is doing differently. It could be good as well to provide Android users with some simple tools to test their current phone/installation - i.e. by installing tools like Blokada or Exodus - in order to let them get a feeling for how the system and the installed apps are calling home. Furthermore, it could be of use if you (/e/) are able to explain who you are, what drives you, how you are financed and what your business model is/will be.

How to get /e/ and how will it be maintained?

  • "Why is /e/ only available for outdated phones?"

  • "Why /e/ is not offered for small phones?" (raised by an iPhone SE user)

  • "Will /e/ phones be available in shops?"

  • “If I get /e/ installed on my newly bought Samsung S9, will I have warranty issues in case there will be some trouble with the phone’s hardware?”

  • "Where will a phone with /e/ be available for sale? If it will be, will there be a guarantee that comes with the software, too? Where will I get help if I get stuck?"

  • “For how long will functionality/maintenance/upgrade being guaranteed for the /e/ for a certain device? I don’t want to buy a phone that won’t be supported anymore from tomorrow onwards!” (This question came up when I explained that /e/ is based on Lineage OS and phones like the Redmi Note 5 Pro are not (anymore) supported by Lineage OS).

  • "Do we need a support contract for using /e/? Will it be possible to get one - at least for professional users?"

  • “Will we have access to a phone hotline in case I’d have problems with /e/?”

My conclusion: My impression is that there’s a straightforward transparency needed how long a phone will be supported - ideally, by setting clear minimum (maximum?) dates for each and every phone. Just a vague reference to “this depends not on us but on Lineage OS” will probably not be enough. Moreover - but this seems to be planned already - it would be good to have various options to chose from how to get hold of /e/ - through self-installation on existing phones, assistance with installing it and options to buy new phones with /e/ preinstalled. It would be perfect if recognised stores or online stores would sell them too.

As a final conclusion I’d say…

(1) …that once /e/ is ready to ship v1.0 it is important that /e/ will be easily available through different channels (home install, supported installation on existing phones as well as buying phones with /e/ preinstalled - at least in some test markets.

(2) Much more important than a sleek design I feel will be that the launch of /e/ will be embedded in a well made awareness raising campaign on privacy lacks and the skale of leaking - of course in the language that people natively speak.

(3) And finally (linked to that latter point), to make tools available that allow any smartphone user (before installing a new ROM or thinking about buying a new phone) to test their current phones and make the extent of their current data leakage easily visible - a kind of privacy meter app, ideally downloadable from Play Store.

(4) Personally, I liked as well very much the idea of a mother who was quite exited about the idea to get an /e/ as a first phone for her young adolescent - not exposing her right a way to Google: A low budget /e/ phone for smartphone newbees as one of /e/'s target groups. What do you think?

Now, I am happy to leave this collection of feedbacks for further discussion…


Hi @ralxx thanks for the great feedback. A good way for a person to understand /e/ - what it is and how the model works - would be to have a look at our website https://e.foundation/ . A better and more comprehensive website is on the way. We will ensure to add solutions and FAQ’s based on some of the points you have raised here.
Thanks again for bringing this to us.


One of the comments is about the design of the app. Funny, I had different thoughts about it. When Apple went from iOS 6 to iOS 7, it changed the design of the iphone. (My first smartphone was a 3Gs.)The skeuomorphic app icons disappeared and the design became uniform, to my regret. I found and still find the Apple design too rigid. Why do apps need to have the same shape? Then I bought a Jolla with its different app icons. The Sailfish design is predominantly in the user interface, the swiping system, which is nice and easy. But as most of us know, this company is walking om a thin thread.

Why is jolla walking on a thin thread?

Well, they are still alive and kicking, but Jolla is in need of more funding. Since the tablet disaster the company became less powerful, the developers team is smaller than before. At first Jolla sold a feature device. Now you have to flash the OS by yourself. Important updates are paid for now, which I find normal. But there is hardly any opportunity to grow as long as there is no feature device. I personally like Sailfish, especially the design and user interface.

Weird they r lacking funding since they closed major deal with the Chinese and russian governments.