How de-googled is SimpleOS?
On a casual device, whenever you turn on your device, it is set up to ping google services. It is looking for a 204 success result code. That can be seen here:
android_frameworks_base ▸ services ▸ core ▸ java ▸ com ▸ android ▸ server ▸ connectivity ▸ NetworkMonitor.java
private static final String DEFAULT_HTTPS_URL =”https://www.google.com/generate_204″;
private static final String DEFAULT_HTTP_URL = “http://connectivitycheck.gstatic.com/generate_204”;
private static final String DEFAULT_FALLBACK_URL = “http://www.google.com/gen_204”;
private static final String DEFAULT_OTHER_FALLBACK_URLS = “http://play.googleapis.com/generate_204″;
The information sent from the device would be fairly basic, but it will likely include your IP and MAC addresses plus the date and time of each connection. We have replaced those with our own URL http://pingsecuregroup.com.
Not just at the connectivity check, but also at the Network Time Protocol (NTP) does Google have their own servers, by default it is “time.android.com”.
<string translatable=”false” name=“config_ntpServer”>time.android.com</string>
This check itself can be harmless, but if combined with other low-level services, it can be abused by putting a timestamp to the locational or network traffic data. We have replaced that url with “pool.ntp.org”.
These servers are not set to Google servers directly but are, by default, automatically applied by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) in Android. Those then pass on the network traffic to large corporations like Google for a price. So even if Google doesn’t log your internet traffic directly, it can obtain it really easily. And Android makes it easy for ISPs to do.
To solve this, we have preset Cloudflare DNS Servers one.one.one.one or 1dot1dot1dot1.cloudflare-dns.com as the default option, but you can change it easily in your Network & Internet device settings, DNS section.
Google Play Services
This service has many uses, it is needed not just for using Google Play but also for authenticating you to your Google services, Google synchronized contacts etc. It also provides access to the latest user privacy settings and higher quality, lower-powered location-based services. It also provides more immersive maps and improves gaming experience. Sadly they are quite privacy intrusive. As an alternative to relying on Google Play services, we are using microG, that provides Google Play Services-like API for the best possible user experience. However, if you don’t want to have microG either, you can disable it easily.
System WebView application
It is a system component that lets Android apps display web content inside them without opening a standalone browser. The default Webview app is powered by Chrome (or Chromium). As the preinstalled browser in our case is Bromite, we use Bromite SystemWebView as the default System Webview app.
Satellite services (A-GPS, SUPL)
A technology known as Assisted GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) has been a part of our mobile landscape for a number of years now. When applied to GPS, this technology is known as A-GPS, or Assisted GPS. This technology leverages data sent through radio networks to improve startup times for initial satellite linkup. For mobile devices, this means it leverages cell towers to triangulate the necessary exact coordinate data to allow the satellite to connect. A-GPS uses several protocols to govern its use, and to push or carry the data from cell tower radio networks. These protocols are divided into two categories, the control plane protocol, and user plane protocol. The control plane protocol is subdivided into numerous protocols designed to support multiple generations of mobile networks, such as GSM, CDMA, UMTS, and LTE networks.
The User plane protocol, SUPL, is defined by the OMA to support positioning protocols in packet switched networks, and is currently available in 3 versions (1.0 to 3.0). SUPL, or Secure User Plane Location is designed to go beyond the initial design intentions of A-GPS by allowing it to be used by standard computer systems. SUPL 3.0 legitimizes such use by adding allowance for WLAN and broadband connections. Actions defined by SUPL 3.0 include a wide range of services such as geofencing and billing. The A-GNSS functions are defined in the SUPL Positioning Functional Group. It includes:
• SUPL Assistance Delivery Function (SADF), which provides the basic information sent to the device in both A-GNSS modes.
• SUPL Reference Retrieval Function (SRRF), which tells the server to prepare the information mentioned above by receiving from the satellites.
SUPL Position Calculation Function (SPCF), which lets the client or the server ask for the client’s location. The server-generated location may result from MSA (mobile station assisted) or from mobile cell. If a MSB (SET based) mode is used, the client reports its location to the server instead.
Not only does the latest version of SUPL go beyond the initial purposes of A-GPS (geofencing, billing applications), the above data is being logged by Google without permission, potentially before you even put a SIM card in your phone. For that reason, we wanted to avoid using Google servers for SUPL data when using GPS. To solve this, we replaced GPS SUPL_HOST=supl.google.com with supl.vodafone.com (Vodafone) in the following files:
As mentioned in the beginning, the OS is based on our apps from the Simple Mobile Tools suite as the preinstalled ones. However, we don’t have everything covered as our apps have no internet access, so we had to reach out to a couple other apps. As an email app we decided to preinstall Fairmail, as the browser there is Bromite and for app store F-droid. That makes it possible to receive all app updates too.
Regarding our apps, these are preinstalled: Calculator, Calendar, Camera, Clock, Contacts, Dialer, Draw, File Manager, Flashlight, Gallery, Keyboard, Music Player, Notes, SMS Messenger and Voice Recorder. If you want, you can obviously uninstall or replace them. If F-droid is not enough for you, you can also download Aurora which will grant you access to all free apps from Google Play. You can thus download your favourite social media apps too.
Is SimpleOS open-source?
Yes, SimpleOS is a streamlined mobile operating system based on the Lunar Open Mobile Platform (developed by The Good Phone Foundation). You can find the source code of Lunar OMP here: https://gerrit.goodphone.foundation/admin/repos
How is Simple Phone phone better than GrapheneOS, Calyx or LineageOS?
We never wanted to compete with GrapheneOS, Calyx, or LineageOS. We do acknowledge these are great projects, and we wish them success. However, we believe there is room for more privacy-respecting projects that put the user’s interest first. Moreover, we see the niche market for de-googled phones as a spectrum. Some projects focus solely on privacy and security, while others provide more functionality and usability.
Our goal was to give users a “simple” way to escape the reach of Big Tech by providing a solution that works out of the box, does not require any additional skills to flash a phone, and gives users a more coherent user experience. Simple Phone is a great first de-googled phone that might convert an iOS or a regular Android user. More advanced users might prefer other solutions, which is more than OK.
Is Simple Phone locked to a provider?
No, Simple Phone is carrier unlocked.
Is Simple Phone just a rebranded OEM device?
Yes, Simple Phone uses the same industrial design (ID) as other mainstream phones, like the CoolPad Cool S. However, our devices are produced on a separate, controlled, smaller production line and are certified as a different model.
This is our first device, and we wanted to release something relatively quickly and get real feedback rather than having a beautiful 3d render on preorder for years. If Simple Phone is successful, we will definitely work on a phone with a unique industrial design, that would also incorporate some of the hardware features requested by users.
Why are you using Helio P60? It’s a 4-year old chip..
Simple Phone is, well, a simple phone. Our OS and apps are lightweight and don’t require a lot of processing power. The phone delivers a great user experience with the current hardware, and everything runs fast. However, if you are looking for a gaming device, Simple Phone is not for you.
Will this phone have international availability? How much do you estimate it will cost?
Currently, Simple Phone is only available within the EU. By the end of the year, it will be available in all European countries, the US, and Canada. Depending on demand, we might add other regions or counties, so email us if you want a Simple Phone and live outside the mentioned regions.
The cost would be the same.
How repairable is the phone?
Compared to mainstream mobile phones (iPhones, Samsungs, Google Pixels), Simple Phone is easier to repair. The architecture is not complex, and the phone does not have an IP rating, meaning that the use of adhesives is minimal. We will also offer spare parts directly on our site, so you will be able to purchase screens, batteries, backs, and camera modules from us. Any local mobile repair shop should be able to service the device for you.
Is the phone sustainable? Like the Fairphone, for example. So, can I change the battery myself?
Simple Phone is not sustainable at the moment. However, we are taking steps to reduce the environmental footprint of the devices we sell. Starting in 2023, Simple Phone will ship in fully recyclable packaging, and we will also make accessories optional (but still free); users can choose whether they want them or not. In terms of repairability, we will offer spare parts directly on our site, and although changing the battery is not as easy as it is on a Fairphone, it is still quite straightforward, and it can be done by any mobile repair store.
Is the Bootloader locked? Can it be unlocked?
By default, Simple Phone will ship with a locked Bootloader. However, the Bootloader can be unlocked and then re-locked by the user. Unlocking the Bootloader allows users to install custom firmware on their devices and gives them full privileges to modify the phone.
NOTE: Unlocking the Bootloader is unnecessary for most users and is not recommended.
Why do you use microG on the device? Can I disable it?
We opted to preinstall microG on the device as we view this to be the best middle ground for most users, especially first-time de-Googled phone users. Yes, some metadata still passes through Google, but this is a minor price for all the functionality that microG adds.
Additionally, users that don’t trust or don’t want to use microG can simply disable it from the device settings.