Anbox cloud - Android apps on Librem 5

I just found this:

Will this in any way enable the use of Android apps on the Librem 5?

No that’s a different things, what we need is regular anbox, but this program is in alpha state, so for the news you found we can hope canonical will fund anbox development for this new service otherwise they gonna fail like they have done with ubuntu phone


That’s exactly what I’m hoping for, Anbox seems heavily underfunded, so I’m curious if this’ll change if Canonical throws some money onto it.



I didn’t find much information about the interface between the client device and the cloud virtual Android device. It does say “Client interface available as native or web application”, so maybe the latter is OK on Librem 5.

If all you want to do is run Grindr / Tinder then that is such an untrusted environment anyway that perhaps it doesn’t matter much more if you run it in a cloud virtual Android device. So you avoid the unpleasantness of installing an Android app on your Librem 5, let alone running one.

So, if I haven’t got the wrong end of the stick, it comes down to:

  • can the Librem 5 be used as a client device?
  • how much does it cost for the use of one virtual device? Is it a realistic price for a, er, single user?
  • are the demands on the client’s internet connection reasonable? Don’t think I would want to watch videos.

My primary need for Android apps are

  1. Bank ID apps
  2. Whatsapp
  3. Parking apps
    For 1) and 2) above I keep an Android phone alongside my Ubuntu Touch phone. I am really not sure if I would be willing to pay to get these working without the Android phone.
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Depends on how much. I suppose your Android phone won’t last forever. Then you can make a cost comparison.

Has anyone tried this? Has anyone even got access to it?

I’m not in a position to try it on the L5 but it would be good to have tried it on a conventional Linux desktop/laptop, so as to get an idea of whether it is viable, before I receive my L5.

Couldn’t you just use a VNC server now with Anbox or some other emulated Android VM to get it ‘working’ on the L5? So you’d have another computer running the Android VM. The host in this situation would then allow for remote access via VNC, etc.

I do this same thing on a almost daily basis. (Not running an Android emulator, of couse.) And without reading too much in the new Anbox cloud service, I’m assuming this is essentially what they are doing as well. VM remote access.

Drawbacks to this approach, that is for sure already working, and has been working, are:
-Limited by the VNC viewer implementation on the L5. (IE: does touch work through it, etc.)
-Anything that requires a SIM card (phone number, GPS, etc.) will not work.

However banking and parking apps should work.

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Maybe I just don’t want anything Android anywhere near my phone or even anywhere near my computer. A remote VM created and maintained by someone else to get over a specific hurdle and then thrown away (until next time).

My interest in Anbox cloud is independent of the L5. If Anbox cloud works at all.

No doubt there will be some interesting challenges with things like SIM (identity), other identity (e.g. IMEI), phone number, call/text send/receive, GPS, … but let’s see whether it can walk before we worry about whether it can run.

The service itself has no real technical challenge to provide a desktop remotely in the cloud. The services for Windows and Linux have been running for years. Anbox itself is not yet a mature product, but I do not see any serious technical barriers if funded adequately. In an extreme case, a virtual VM instance for a complete Android in the server side works anyway. Making a call through the virtual desktop can relay to the user’s actual phone. It can be just like to launch a phone call from the email client.

Would you mind elaborate the challenges you see for this remote Android service to work? Thanks.

Hi, @Barron, welcome to the community.

As I noted, any random Android app may work just fine in a virtualised cloud Android environment until it has to interact with real hardware and/or the real world. Then it will be limited by

  • what can be configured in to the virtualised environment - which for a cloud service provided by an external party (such as being contemplated here) may not be completely within your control
  • how much functionality can be relayed back and forth to your client device may be limited
  • whether you even want to do that (I don’t!) is another question
  • how well it works when the client device is a desktop/laptop v. how well it works when the client device is a Linux phone is another question

If it’s a proprietary app that only requires internet access to work then a cloud Anbox should work fine - unless the app is subject to geoblocking / geolocation via IP address. (The IP address that the app running in the cloud presents as to its corresponding server may bear no relation to your real IP address and the IP address should not be able to be relayed.)

If it’s a proprietary app that requires receiving an SMS into the app (e.g. for 2FA) then that gets trickier. The cloud instance probably can’t receive SMSs at all. So you will need to find some way of relaying an SMS from your actual phone to the virtual phone. Fortunately app authors are recognising that SMS is not very secure for 2FA and so hopefully they stop doing that.

Looking at another case: a proprietary app that wants GPS access. The cloud Anbox can’t helpfully provide its own GPS location (as that could be anywhere in the world and might even change dynamically, but surely won’t be indicative of your own location). So you could with enough magic, relay GPS from your client device (if it’s a phone) to the virtual cloud environment … but that is exactly the kind of crap that I don’t want i.e. transmitting my exact location to some untrusted app running in an environment provided by a third party.

Have you ordered a Librem 5? If so, let’s reconvene on this when we have actual phones and see what we can get working - although I don’t whether the Anbox cloud service itself is available yet.

Thanks for your detailed response. That makes sense to me.