Mixed feelings with /e/ on Moto G7

I’ve installed /e/ on my Moto G7 (river), here’s what I found so far.

The Good

It works butter-smooth, so far it’s running better than stock ROM. It’s basically Lineage, which itself is basically pure AOSP, so there’s nothing that spetacular to talk about. It works smooth and that’s good. I also really hope more ROMs start forking the deGoogling from /e/ to improve privacy, though I know there are lots of Google shills in some of those ROMs as well.

I look forward for the Android 11 upgrade, being able to uninstall/disable the pre-installed apps and the planned camera upgrade.

The Bad

There are some things that can be improved, nothing really bad, but can degrade the experience.

  • Can’t remove/disable the weather widget or the recent apps widget on Bliss
    What if I don’t want to know the weather? Or prefer another widget/provider? Those two fixed widgets that I can’t remove are a bummer, add an option to disable them. Anyway, I’m not using Bliss because I prefer a normal launcher.
  • Disable some useless apps when possible
    For example, I’m not using an /e/ account, nor I’m using the Weather widget, yet the /e/ Drive, Nextcloud SMS and OpenWeatherMaps Provider services are running on the background for no reason. It’s just more stuff eating my battery for nothing.
  • Somehow ask permission for getting apps list
    Any app can check what other apps are installed, that’s a monumental privacy breach. Apps can check if you also have their “competitors” installed and the app list just creates a perfect fingerprint and profile. It would be interesting if you could develop a way to prevent such access, if an app tried to call that API the OS would tell you and denying would return an empty list to the app. Check PrivacyBreacher for more information.

The Ugly

I really hate the pre-Pie vertical app switcher, I’m even considering installing another ROM just because of it.

No gesture navigation, just old three button navigation, probably because the app switcher is stuck on pre-Pie version so quick app switch won’t even work. This, and vertical app switcher, are regressions to me.

The Apps Store is very lacking. My main advice would be to check Aurora Store, their interface is really good, better than Google Play or Apple’s Store. But let’s point the key bad parts:

  • The Featured area could at least show the name of the app
    The image just don’t give any idea of what the app does or even what app it is.
  • Add developer links
    I want to know the developers’ website and, for F-droid, the links to source code, changelog, etc. This one is a must have.
  • Put the Information at the top like Aurora
    Many of that information at the bottom is very important, like when was the last update. I don’t want to install abandoned apps.
  • Add Changelog
    Some apps add changelogs (F-droid ones mostly, but some from Play Store do so too), and it would be nice to read them.
  • Rating buttons just don’t do anything useful
    You should make them open something else other than just a modal showing an explanation, clicking on privacy at least should show the links to privacy analyses, perhaps also show Fdroid “anti-features” here (show “unknown anti-features” for Gplay apps).
  • Don’t show updates for alpha/beta versions from F-Droid
    F-Droid allows to set a “recommended” version (stable) but the developer can still add beta versions, Apps Store ignores that and shows beta updates for installed apps, currently the official F-droid app is showing that behaviour.
  • Let me know where the app is coming from
    I would really like to know if the app is from Google Play or Fdroid, but I simply can’t. Some apps are available on both stores, but the version on Fdroid might be more privacy friendly because it removes Gplay libraries or other crap blobs.
  • Show at least the number of permissions and trackers
    This is minor, but it would be pretty good to know beforehand if it’s full of trackers or just one or two. For permissions it would be nice that the number would show both all permissions and “dangerous” ones.
5 Likes

In earlier builds it worked :see_no_evil: https://gitlab.e.foundation/e/backlog/-/issues/838 I agree with 99% you write here. I use my own build with minimal apps, no weather, no e drive, no apps etc… Not sure why this is still not available… Does not seem to be a lot of work.

2 Likes

I agree with everything you said, it’s very well summed up !
The more time passes, the more I tell myself that /e/ is just the new Lineage and will be great when another organisation will polish it. With all the projects going on instead of making a clean OS. I mean I bought a SG7 a year ago and i’m still on Nougat … I’m so disapointed in the support of the OS and the pace of updates …

2 Likes

Thanks @river for your comment. I really appreciate your summary. Also there is quite big application Libre Office Viewer (116,88 MB) which is old and doesn’t really work well. I would call it useless. For older phones this is pretty huge app which unnecessarily consumes space, comparing to other apps.

I’m for deciding if I want to use cloud services or extra applications like weather or so during a ROM installation, if that’s possible. If it’s not possible I’d love to delete it and replace by applications I’m going to use. Obviously it’s possible to disable apps but it’s not the same as deleting them still not corrupting OS.

2 years ago is a long time.

I know that it’s pretty complicated to keep updating Android for every phone, there’s nearly zero standards on hardware and boot so it’s really complicated. But having stuff broken that works on Lineage for so long is not what I prefer. Right now I’m inclined to fork Lineage with microG and apply the degoogling patches myself even though it would be more work.

Indeed, I totally forgot about it probably because I disabled it right away.

I really liked the idea of /e/. I tried to use it and make it my daily driver. But it is the little things that added up and finally had to switch back to LineageOS. I have always had a problem sending a picture using the built in messenger. I can’t stand the PDF viewer installed. The weather app doesn’t work. Bliss is aggravating. There are many things running that shouldn’t be and can’t be disabled through normal channels. Too many nuances about the Apps Store I didn’t like. So I agree with @river and many of the comments.

I found myself installing so many apps to work around the problems that I finally came to the conclusion that it was more work than necessary. I will try /e/ again in a couple of months. I would love to try to build my own ROM using the /e/ tools but I just don’t want to invest that much time to learn having recent changes to my family, work and life.