A startup privacy-oriented OS wants to replace Android on your phone, but also wants you to pay for it

A startup privacy-oriented OS wants to replace Android on your phone, but also wants you to pay for
So, maybe you’ve heard the name Petter Neby. He’s one of the early adopters of the “dumb phone = better life” philosophy, so he went on to establish Punkt. Through it, he created several iterations of a stylish and minimalistic phone, which is neither dumb, nor conventionally smart. As in, it has internet, but its application is limited.

Well, Petter Neby is now involved in a new startup called Apostrophy (yes, with a Y). The project comes from Switzerland and revolves around the idea of creating a next-gen privacy-centric operating system (OS). It will be called AphyOS, and makes the promise of “No sneaky terms and conditions”. Oh, and it will be a subscription-based service.

But why on earth would you pay for such a service? Well, the company explains it in their website’s FAQ section, while also taking the opportunity to make a jab at Google. Basically, it goes like this: you’re also paying for using Android, but you are paying in user data, not in money. Apostrophy’s spin on the situation is that it exists to give you a choice, in case you’d rather pay with hard, cold cash.

Why would a mobile OS be a subscription service?

But wait, it’s still an OS, so why isn’t it a one-time purchase instead? That’s explained too. The best way to phrase it would be to say that it’s going to be a decentralized operating system. Meaning that, while on your end you have your phone, its functions and apps, on the backend, a group of highly-skilled privacy experts will be working non-stop to guarantee you the promised privacy.

And that’s not something that they can go and do once, and then mark it as a done deed. As technology evolves, new features are introduced, and a lot of them — completely unintentionally, for the most part — also provide hackers with opportunities to exploit the system, and rob users of their data. Ergo, this subscription will effectively act as the fuel to keep those privacy experts going, ensuring that your privacy-centric OS doesn’t become outdated in a month or so.

But AphyOS has some other unique features too. For example, their website will grant you access to some of the apps that you use on your phone, just like Google has desktop versions of Keep and Calendar, or how Apple has iCloud.com. So, okay, not exactly unique, but still cool.

Here’s some of the apps listed to support this functionality at launch:

  • Aphy Email
  • Aphy VPN
  • Secure Storage
  • Secure Calendar
  • Notes
  • To-Do lists

This is really the part where Peter Nebby’s signature is visible. He’s a true advocate about how phones are currently all-consuming, whereas a system that allows your phone and computer to compliment each other, would allow you to focus both on work and life, separately.

If AphyOS isn’t Android, what is it? Well…

That’s really neat and all, but what is AphyOS even based on? While at times it does sound like a completely standalone OS, the truth is that it is technically based on Android (wah-wah). The website cleverly masks this by quoting “based on GrapheneOS”, and sure — Graphene is a stable, already existing privacy-oriented operating system for phones, but it is also based on Android.

While the way Android is built allows for a lot of customization, to a point where you can add your own unique functions and features, but even then it would still be Android none-the-less. Aphy’s devs might like to keep it under-wraps, as it sounds kind of counter-intuitive — with their premature jab at Google and all — but that still doesn’t change the fact that they are modding an already existing mod of Android.

The website also does this interesting thing where it mentions “Aphy phones”. Given that Punkt is a thing, maybe we can expect an AphyOS dedicated phone at some point, but in general, if the OS is based on Android, a lot of phones will probably be able to run it, even though they’ll likely need a user with a subscription to keep the phone updated.

AphyOS is just the start and the Aphy phone is the future!

The company also makes a very bold claim in their FAQ page. Allegedly, several European-based phone manufacturers have already planned to release smartphones with AphyOS pre-installed in 2023 (and this is the part where minds are blown). And this, if real — as we don’t really have any reason to believe otherwise at this point — would truly be a gamechanger.

For one, buying an “Aphy Phone” would mean that the user, theoretically, has to buy the phone and then immediately proceed to subscribing to its OS. If they don’t like it, they’ll have to go through figuring out how to get stock Android on there, and even that may be a pain, as basic ‘droid might not even be optimized for that device. Thank God that flagships come optimized!

As a counterpoint, however, this nicely ties back with the company’s claim of giving the user a choice. If major brands — or, at least mid-major brands — release phones that come with AphyOS, and if users gravitate towards them, it may actually make Google reconsider and accept the ordeal as feedback. Possibly even allowing users to pay the big G for a subscription price in order save their data from ad-revenue Hell.

That would, actually, effectively relieve Apostrophy of their duty immediately, but it would also truly realize the company’s end-goal philosophy, which they go into great detail about on their website.

Overall, AphyOS is looking to stir the pot. Pete Nebby and company are certainly up to something interesting, and we, for one, can’t wait to see what Aphy phones might come out in the future. More importantly, how users will react to the subscription, which — by the way — hasn’t gotten a price tag yet.

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