Switching to /e/os and software availability

Hey everybody

I hope to get some information about the Fairphone with /e/os.

I am currently a long time apple user but I started to care more and more about privacy and I want to move away from all this closed source data collection stuff by big tech. My iPhone X got old at this point and I am currently looking for a new phone. I really like the idea of the Fairphone and I think it is good enough for what I need. I know that they sell the phones with Android 11 but obviously I am not moving from apple to google for privacy issues.
I then saw the /e/os project and I think it is really fantastic what you all are doing here.
I read some conversations here about which apps work and which do not. But I still have some open questions. Since I do not how to flash a phone nor do I have one to flash maybe someone here can answer my specific questions.

  1. I know that there is some form of app store but I checked if all the apps I need are there and most of them are there but the versions seemed to be not up to date. So will I be able to get later versions of those apps? (Does not have to bee the latest but should by somewhat recent)

  2. I am still not sure which apps are running which do not. I just need some apps to work otherwise it would be a bit to painful.
    NZZ, MeteoSwiss, Audible, Cineplex, Snapchat, EduApp, SBB Mobile, PostFinance, Twint (by PostFinance), Alertswiss, Signal, Whatsapp, Proton Mail, Proton Calender, Fitbit, Anki, ETH Zürich, Shazam, ETH Moodle, Covid Cert, SwissCovid, dict.cc, Apple Music
    This would be the list of apps I use on a regular basis especially the PostFinance app is important because I use it for payments and as two factor authentication. I have seen some lists of apps that do run an that is fantastic but the PostFinance and Apple Music were not on the list and I actually use those a lot. Maybe someone can try those and tell me if those work.

  3. Where can I download apps and if I download apps from different places how to update them and what is about the os itself? How do I update it?

  4. Assume I buy a Fairphone and try /e/os and it really does not work at all for me. Will I be able to install Android 12 and just use it regular and life with all the data collection?

I hope someone can answer my questions.

I cannot answer all your questions because I don’t own a Fairphone, but let me share the answers that I have:

  1. I guess see answers to 2/3.
  2. In general my experience is that everything works except using to a Chromecast device is a bit limited (fair enough if you try to use Google hardware without Google software). I came from “official” Android to /e/, and I found that all the apps I used there also work with /e/. Specifically:
  • MeteoSwiss → Works fine
  • Sbb Mobile → Works fine (including EasyRide)
  • Twint → Works fine (but in my case it is ZKB Twint, I dont know if postfinance Twint has issues)
  • Signal → Works fine
  • Whatsapp → Works fine (it will give a warning when you sign up that a non-official OS seems to be used, but other than that I did not have any problems with it)

Note that /e/ OS offers the “advanced privacy” feature - if all those features are active, many apps wont work, or not work properly (e.g. if you provide a fake location instead of your true location, SBB easy ride wont work etc.). If you disable those extra features, there are no problems in my experience.

  1. I install all apps from the AppLounge application. There might be cases where the versions are not the most recent ones, but I would assume that they get updated with some delay maybe. I think you can also install other app stores (Aurora or F-Droid for example) and install apps from there, then you just have several sources for your applications and how you get updates might be different in each one of them. AppLounge seems by default to be configured to automatically update your apps if a newer version is available.
    Updates to the OS appear in Settings-> System updates when available. I dont think you need special knowledge to apply those once you have /e/ installed.
  2. Pretty sure you can do that, but this in my experience would require flashing another OS, which you mentioned you are not able to do (yet?). But Fairphone users might give you a more clear answer here.

Hope this helps!

@phillip App Lounge gives you the option of accessing Google Play anonymously without a Google account, and it shows you the Exodus privacy rating for every app, so you can make an informed decision about installing it. It also lets you get Free/Open Source (FOSS) apps from F-Droid, but you can also install the F-Droid app store separately to connect directly. (There are other other app download sites in the wild, too, although that’s potentially more risky).

Both App Lounge and F-Droid should display a notification to you when there are any updates for apps available. You can set them both to only check/download/update over WiFi, if you prefer. You should also be able to set them to update automatically.

I’m using both Signal and ProtonMail. I don’t seem to get push notifications from the ProtonMail app, so I check it manually from time to time. (I’m not sure if this is due to my preferred background data/battery saver settings or if that’s just how it is. Maybe someone else knows. Possibly a setting in micro-G can fix it, but I’m not bothered.

Signal works, and I have received notifications, but nobody really corresponds with me over Signal; therefore I regularly force-stop it, because there’s no point in my letting it use up battery charge at the moment.

Besides the Advanced Privacy feature that @Raffael mentioned, which you can switch on or off as desired, there are also tracker-blocker apps you can download and run in the background that, by adding one or more public blocklists inside the app, will give you granular control over desired or unwanted background connections that any app might make.

P.S. For official /e/OS builds that do not change the underlying Android version, you will receive update notifications, which you can initiate manually when you’re ready. For official builds that do upgrade the Android version, I’m not sure if /e/ has figured that out yet. @manoj, do you know?

For devices that have only unofficial builds, updates generally require downloading and flashing the latest build, but it’s actually easy once TWRP is already installed on the device.

Thank you very much @Raffael and @Taurus for your quick answers. It sounds really good and I think I will give it a try.

The Covid-Apps do work but you need to pull them from F-Droid most likely.

Nice move @phillip, from apple to eOS !

Be prepared to change some of your apps for opensource alternatives on FDroid.

It could be hard at the beginning.

@phillip I am wondering if you made the switch and how it went. I am particularly interested if you were able to get anki working. Thanks in Advance,

As @Taurus stated, Proton apps work just fine. I managed to get notifications. I don’t use Advanced Privacy (yet). I manage trackers thru TrackerControl. Everything for ProtonMail is blocked, I might have allowed once a tracker for Push Notifications.

AlertSwiss works as intended if some trackers are opend, again for Psu Notifications.

Anki from F-Droid works also fine @ssanger

I use UBS Twint with no issues