This is the end of 2018, and this year has been incredible.
By the end of 2017, I posted a few messages here about my quest for more data privacy, and corresponding plans to “Leave Apple and Google”. At this time, I thought I would just customize an Android ROM a bit and that it would be enough for my use and a few others…
But the story has been “a little” different
Thanks to the support for thousand people, thanks to the contributions of many, thanks to the hard work of the /e/ core team, we have been able to deliver a great “/e/ MVP” (Minimal Viable Produc), as a beta, three months ago.
It comes as an installable Android-based ROM that can run most Android apps without Google services, it doesn’t have default settings to Google services anymore, it includes a different choice of default applications, it can use an /e/ identity using a simple email address to retrieve data and emails. It provides an online drive that is syncing content from the ROM automatically, it offers a default meta-search engine for the web…
And the adoption has started: we got hundreds of download already, we gave offered more than 1,700 /e/ tests accounts… And the community has grown and has found homes at the /e/ GitLab repository, at the /e/ Community forums and at /e/ discussions channels on Telegram.
We are doing this industrially
An important, and mostly hidden part of the project, is that we are very well-organized. We have developed a “build farm” that is doing continuous integration of the product, can be plugged with new build servers in minutes. This is allowing us to go faster and safer with further developments, and welcome more people, developers, contributors…
This setup is hosted by “e Foundation”, a non-profit organization, and is contributing a lot to ensure the project sustainability, and make it a long term project.
Towards a V1!
In 2019 we are going to release /e/ V1.0 that can be installed on more than 60 different devices. It will be an improved version of the beta, with a slightly different set of application, and will offer two new important features:
- an integrated installer for most free Android applications: this way, users can look for Android apps, learn about their privacy score, and proceed to installation easily “in two clicks”.
- the capability for users to self-host their /e/ services. This is very important to provide this, because some people and organizations prefer to host online services on their own servers. And that will also help /e/ to be more scalable as a project because at the moment we can not add as many users as we would like for free to our online services (yes, hosting has a cost)
Also, 2019 is going to be exciting for /e/ in term of announcements, partnerships, devices with /e/… stay tuned!
Now, I would also like to explain that our quest towards more freedom and towards more privacy in the mobile ecosystem is made possible because we have supporters and contributors. The more contributors we have, the more financial support /e/ Foundation is getting, the faster and the further we can go, the better /e/ can give back in return to all people on earth.
It is also helping /e/ to stay independent from governments and the big industry.
Therefore, everyone is encouraged to support the project now by:
- becoming an /e/ developer, a translator, a content editor
- spreading the word about the /e/ project on Internet forums, social media, emails, and by retweeting our posts with #eFoundation hashtag: this is crucial to gain more exposure and have more people know about the project
- making small recurring donations to /e/ at our Patreon page
- doing a one-time donation to the project
- participating to the /e/ crowdfunding campaign at our website (and you get cool stickers, t-shirt, online storage, smartphone…)
Now it’s also time for me to say a big:
to all those who make this project possible: you are contributing to making a better digital world for us and our children. Never forget: you data is YOUR data! And privacy is key for democracies.
Last but not the least, I wish you a Happy Holiday Season, and a Happy New Year 2019!
— Gaël Duval, /e/ Founder.