People who prioritize privacy in their own lives do not choose the easy path. We know this first hand, and we honor you for building a world with us where human rights are defended - even in the very products we use. Placing privacy and security as our governing priorities in the design of software […]
People who prioritize privacy in their own lives do not choose the easy path. We know this first hand, and we honor you for building a world with us where human rights are defended - even in the very products we use.
Placing privacy and security as our governing priorities in the design of software and hardware comes with tradeoffs. Our technology-dependent lives are largely built around products designed to subvert our privacy. In return, these products give us convenience, predictive feedback and slick user interfaces and experiences.
Unplugged is new.
It’s important to go in with our eyes wide open. Not everything will feel the same. Not every app will work in the same way. With that said, we are developing and shipping beautiful code as fast as we can. We hold ourselves to a very high standard. As we actively improve the user experience, our lines are open, so don’t hesitate to submit feedback and bugs.
Android Without Google
The Unplugged Phone is built with an independent Android Operating System but without Google Mobile Services (GMS).
To understand the significance of this and why we made this design choice, it will help to provide a little history. It may feel like the ancient past, but Google and Android weren’t always synonymous. They have separate histories. 18 years ago, in July of 2005, Google made what is arguably their most important purchase in the history of the tech behemoth. They purchased a little-known 2-year-old startup called Android, Inc and the open-source, mobile operating system the startup was developing.
To Google’s early credit, they continued to support the founding team in the development of the Android OS as an open-source project.
Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin figured the technology would massively expand their core search and ads businesses. They could sell additional apps to monetize the software and ultimately track their users in every aspect of their lives (email, texting, call metadata, voice, location, habits, beliefs, search, etc, etc.) Pursuing their own dominance, Google opened up this ability to “turn customers into the product” to millions of app developers and the modern surveillance economy grew massively.
Without question, the bet paid off, and Android-powered phones and mobile devices became ubiquitous. Android-powered devices command an almost 70% share of the global market.
What few consumers understand is the Android open operating system (AOSP or Android Open Source Project) continues to be available to phone and mobile device innovators all over the world. Google doesn’t own this. It is open to all.
As Unplugged’s early adopters, you’ll experience the power of Android without surrendering your privacy. The UP Phone proudly runs on LibertOS, Unplugged’s custom operating system. It’s an Android-based system, free from Google Mobile Services (GMS). While GMS offers convenience, it always comes at the cost of your privacy, meaning heavy tracking and data collection by Google and third parties. With the UP Phone, you make a conscious choice for enhanced privacy, even if it means sacrificing some conveniences. It's a bold step towards a future where user data is restored to the user, independent of Apple and Google's influence.
What else are we building natively into the UP Phone?
Enhanced Privacy Mode
The UP Phone's "Privacy Mode" is a robust security feature designed to maximize user privacy and minimize potential vulnerabilities. For instance, it activates an "always on" VPN, restricts background apps, alerts users about internet access requests from foreground apps, and implements stringent controls on hardware functionalities like Bluetooth, NFC, and microphone permissions.
Coming soon - Built-in Firewall Against Big Tech
Protect yourself from hidden trackers. Under development, the UP Phone will eventually include an integrated firewall at the operating system level which blocks traffic to servers known for collecting user data, especially those associated with "Big Tech" companies.
We’re excited to put all of this goodness in your hands.