Me and My Phones
A bit more than a week ago I got a new OnePlus One and last weekend I spent some time installing and configuring it. Changing phone is always a painful experience, even if Google make it easier with Nexus phones.
Until now I was using a Nexus 5, and before that a Galaxy Nexus (yes I did skip the Nexus 4, as I don’t need or want to always have the newest phone in the market).
The main reason that made me buy the OnePlus One (OPO) as soon as I got an invite was that I was getting really annoyed with the lack of a way to manage permissions on the Nexus Android. Google Android had that functionality back in Android 4.2 or 4.3, and removed it in Android 4.4.2. As far as I could tell for the time I was using that functionality, there was no good reason to remove it, as I didn’t have any real trouble with any app.
But, more than that, Google is working around the Android permissions by using the Google Play Services to give any apps using their libs unblockable accesses – I mean, you can block the “Google Play Services” from accessing your location, but the the Google Maps will not work, or you can allow every single app to access your location.
for some time I thought about installing CyanogenMod on my Nexus 5, but I’m not really a fan of that – I mean, I use Debian Linux on my desktops, but that’s mostly because I don’t really like to spend time with antivirus and crap like that – I keep updating my Linuxes and they keep working the way I configure them – every couple of years I replace one of them, spend a couple of days configuring them the way I like them and that’s it – Next time I get a new one I’ll probably even automate that process.
So, when I saw that OPO was being released I tried to get an invite, and finally a friend sent me one, so I got it. So, now I’m using the OPO for a week. And in general I’m happy with it. Except that the full disk encryption is not work, which really annoys me. It does, however, annoys me less that the apps having access to everything, and that’s the only reason I’ll stick with the OPO for now.
To me, now, it’s a matter of which of two things happen first: Google releases a new version of Android with proper support for access restriction or the OPO getting an OTA (Over-the-air) update that will fix the problem with the full disk encryption. I’m almost ready to be that the second will happen first, specially because I don’t thing that Google wants to lose the access they now have to every single information we have in our phones. And most users don’t care enough.
Also, from this week using the OPO, I tried using several happens with “always ask” option set for several accesses. For instance, Facebook tries to get your location everytime you open it, once. The new Foursquare app gets your location once for each single block of the app. But the one app I simply uninstalled because I was not really using it was Evernote Hello – the app asks tries to get your location so many times that the phone ended blocking. It’s also interesting to see that their “Buzz based connect” – the thing they have to connect people in a meeting – doesn’t really work without location, so the buzz is just for the show. It does NOT work.
Also, I would like the “Privacy Guard” defaults to be a lot more restrictive or configurable than they are. For instance, they allow the apps to take pictures, to record audio, get your location. So, yes, immediately after I install any app, I’ll get check what they have access to and remove as many permissions as I think as worth.