Android application support should be a top priority for Purism's Librem 5


#1

I really love the idea of the Librem 5, but it simply won’t be usable for the common consumer. I do care about my privacy, however there are many essential apps for common consumers. Things like TOTP / HOTP, ad-hoc network mode, KeePass, and social media may not be functional on the Librem 5 for a long time until different communities adapt the Librem 5 and start contributing to its development.

Running Android applications in isolation is the fourth stretch goal, not even the first. But even if it was the first, this shouldn’t even be a stretch goal. This is crucial to the Librem 5’s success. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the team at Purism is incompetent or lazy, I’m just pointing out that support for installing Android applications is absolutely crucial if the Librem 5 is going to be a usable phone by even some of the most privacy-conscious people. Personally, I won’t be buying the Librem 5 till I know that it will support apps I need to use on a daily basis. Because until then, it is simply not comparable to other smartphones as far as functionality.


#2

I think you will be better off trying to get Replicant working on the Librem 5. Replicant is a fully free Android distribution endorsed by the FSF. See https://replicant.us for more info.

Here is a thread on the replicant forums discussing the Librem 5: https://redmine.replicant.us/boards/27/topics/14476

I would think that porting replicant would be much easier than bringing android apps to GNU/Linux.


#3

There is no way you can talk Purism into making closed-source apps run on day one a top priority.
The stretch goal is only 12,000 sold units away. I think it’s very fair to say “If we sell 16,000 phones, we’ll make Android apps work”. If you’re lucky, some of the 300+ dev board receivers will work on it.
I don’t see why you would need to duplicate your own topic, that already had excellent answers.


#4

Nobody said anything about closed source apps. For those who didn’t know that FLOSS android apps exist, check out https://f-droid.org. I hope that one day I can run those high quality freedom respecting apps on the Librem 5.


#5

Android support is not crucial. But one thing we learned from BlackBerry’s failure, that IS crucial, is neglecting to implement a robust app development ecosystem for the new OS. In order to make the Librem 5 a success, they must focus on providing the apps people want and need that are similar to the apps they use now, OR they must build in support for other OS’ apps. THIS is what will determine if Pure OS really goes viral, or if it will be just a niche market OS. I’m sure they are thinking about these things now. When BlackBerry finally introduced Android support for their BlackBerry 10 OS, it was like flipping a coin on wether a particular app would work or not. They finally threw in the towel and went Android.
I sincerely hope that Purism decides to develop their own apps and not port other crap in. Our security and privacy should be considered the most critical thing.


#6

a. Is Replicant a good solution to the shortcomings of pureos ?

b. Is Librem 5 intended to be dual boot capable and if so
is it feasible to install replicant alongside pureos ?


#7

Replicant is a fully free, FSF endorsed android distribution. Its main shortcoming is very poor hardware support because most smartphones are poorly supported by free software. While porting replicant to the Librem 5 will require work, once done one will be able to run any android in a secure, FSF endorsed, mobile friendly operating system.

Yes. The librem 5 is intended to be an actual computer with out arbitrary restrictions placed by the manufacturer. Such a computer can boot multiple oprating systems.

Possible? Yes. Feasible? After replicant is ported, it shouldn’t be too difficult to dual boot. But first replicant must be ported. And we have to do that ourselves. Replicant developers are few and far between and are badly overworked. We cannot sit here and wait for them to do all our porting work.


#8

Purism provides the platform. Onwards, it’s mostly in the hands of the Gnome, KDE and greater Linux community.

Freedom includes the freedom to install unfree software - like a (currently non-free) BT driver on a Librem laptop.

I would assume that few people will install CandyCrush on the Librem 5 if it has Android support.
But there are legitimate niche apps that for the foreseeable future nobody will/can port to Linux. Could be for the public transportation system you rely on, a weather app targeted on aviation, transitioning slowly from Threema (or for some: WhatsApp? :face_with_raised_eyebrow:), a certain community, certain news app, etc.


#9

i agree with OP that Android applications support should be a top priority,
i had 3 Firefox phones just to see how quickly this OS died Probably because of that.
most people need a phone that at least can run Android apps.
personally I’m not a phone enthusiast,but recently had to install Whatsapp in order to join a study class group and i admit it was quit pleasant having the Accuradio music app accompany me while traveling to my courses
and that’s why i like the Blackberry Leap,it is still with the Blackberry OS but on which i can install apps if needed.
later i obviously uninstalled Whatsapp but the Possibility was there.

changing the battery on the LEAP is not that easy and at some point I’ll have to get a replacement phone so I’ve had my eyes on the Librem for some time but without the android app support it would not be a viable solution for me and many others .


#10

Fortunately the phone is not targeted towards the common consumer, so that is not a problem :smiley:.
The common user would be rightfully disappointed to pay 700$ for a budget-spec’ed phone where Android apps run through an emulator would provide a horrific user experience.


#11

at the end of the day this company needs to make a living and go forward
and i suspect this might be hard if the only ones that buy this phone are a few hardcore linux users.
(EDIT: unless they mange to get into the enterprise and government business which seems to be their intention with the latest addition of the server and the libremUSA.)

I’m sure there are many people out there that are privacy concerned that would be willing to sacrifice in performance for that matter
and unfortunately android apps are quit inevitable nowadays.


#12

The best approach at the moment is Anbox, but Isn’t working yet in the Librem 5, @hackersgame did some progress about it, but I don’t know the actual status.


#13

You may be surprised, but this phone interests me precisely because it does NOT support Android applications. I want to have a secure device with which I will fully control my information. This also applies to software. The network has enough information about malicious apps for Android and I don’t need any such surprises on my phone. Right now, I’m using an Android smartphone, but I’ll get rid of it without regret as soon as I get my Librem 5. By the way, I don’t belong to the US government or any government agencies. But if I don’t control my devices, then they control me.


#14

It is waste of time. Since opensoucre community is greater than that. In case you would like to play some particular app. You’d better let the author follow the platform not platform follow the software.


#15

that’s what Firefox hoped will happen with their OS,but at the end of the day it didn’t seem like developers and companies cared putting the resources into making it happen since it probably wasn’t worth the effort for such a small user base that might have grown and be worth the effort if it supported android apps from the beginning.
the Firefox “marketplace” had mostly some useless indie apps and not what most people need or want, like all those famous music/chat/social apps and basically anything, since android is what is done today.

EDIT: I’m genuinely curious as why would someone buy/need a smart phone if it’s not for the apps,better get a nokia 3310 or an old blackberry,i think it’s even more secure.


#16

@jbl
I have heard about Firefox OS, but I don’t know about hardware part. So it is not attracted to me

My reasons to buy L5

  1. Transparency concepts
  2. Open Source Code at Hardware and OS level
  3. I can write my own encryption to voice communication

In 2020. I plan to buy Librem13 with 64GB RAM with 2 extended monitors features and hope Librem has a discount for me :grin:


#17

I may not cancel the plan on my S3 immediately, but I expect it won’t take long. There are some Android apps that I’d like to run on the L5 if nothing native materializes, but only if Anbox, or similar VM/crosslibrary, will let me control all traffic to/from the Android app. If not, then I will just do without. Hell, if only Android let the user control everything, the L5 might never have found a niche.


#18

I would prefer that (potential) customers spell out what Android applications are a top priority.

It may be that a handful of applications are wildly popular and will get implemented quickly because of that. However there are thousands of applications and many of them are uninteresting to just about everybody. While a container execution environment would in theory cover all applications, the reality is not always so good.

Unfortunately Whatsapp doesn’t look like a good bet, as it seems that the operator (Facebook) doesn’t support open platforms - and in any case Facebook/Whatsapp is not really compatible with a private platform. If I wanted surveillance capitalism, I would stick with my existing phone.


#19

Web browsing and programming capability, for one. With this specific phone, there is also the feature of being able to run full Linux software, which I do within a chroot on Android surprisingly often. I could replace most of the Android software I use with web apps, and some of it actually is just plain Linux software so would work even better on the Librem. The main things I am missing support for, personally, are RedReader, a mobile-optimised Waterfox-compatible browser, and software that lets me connect to my white elephant Samsung Galaxy Gear S3 Frontier.


#20

I think the whole idea is to get away from Android and the Google Play Store all together, whatever the cost. When PCs were relatively new to the mainstream, Linux gave you the ability to do so many things that Windows users just couldn’t do at all, while some Windows features weren’t available to Linux users. So there was a trade-off that Linux users thought was more than a good thing for them. Why put so much effort in to building a linux phone, only to devalue it by putting Android on it? Every smart phone owner will benefit after the Librem 5 becomes mainstream. Google and Apple will have to start respecting Android and Apple users to some degree also when there are other better alternatives available to the mainstream. To hold that same position on your phone that only Linux users held on their PCs in the early days of the PC is the holy grail of mobile computing. After you break away from slavery, the last thing you want to do is to chase after your old taskmaster and sign-up to be a slave again. If the Librem 5 is successful, we may one day see google and Facebook’s surveillance and advertising revenues dry up, while average phone owners have full smart phone functionality while also being in complete control of everything involving their phones. I will be willing to pay a higher price and get some reduced features if necessary to get such a phone.