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Android Smartphone without tracking – Is that possible?

According to a study by Vanderbilt University, the mobile operating system Android from Google with an active Chrome browser in the background sends the location to Google a whopping 340 times a day without users interacting with the device. According to the study, an idle Android device sends 4.4 MB of data to Google per day, while iOS only sends 0.63 MB. Although this data does not consist exclusively of user data, it gives an impression of the intensive data collection by the operating systems of Google and Apple.

smartphone ohne tracking

Topic Overview

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Monitoring is made even more intense by the apps that users download from corporate app stores. These applications often include tracking services such as Google Analytics, Facebook trackers and other lesser-known data collectors, some of which transmit every keystroke and click. There are hardly any differences between Android and iOS here. This gives Google in particular comprehensive access to user data, even on iOS. However, there are mobile operating systems like CalyxOS, GrapheneOS, LineageOS and /e/OS that are all based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and show that there is another way.

Android Smartphone without tracking – Is that possible?

According to a study by Vanderbilt University, the mobile operating system Android from Google with an active Chrome browser in the background sends the location to Google a whopping 340 times a day without users interacting with the device. According to the study, an idle Android device sends 4.4 MB of data to Google per day, while iOS only sends 0.63 MB. Although this data does not consist exclusively of user data, it gives an impression of the intensive data collection by the operating systems of Google and Apple.

smartphone ohne tracking

Topic Overview

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Monitoring is made even more intense by the apps that users download from corporate app stores. These applications often include tracking services such as Google Analytics, Facebook trackers and other lesser-known data collectors, some of which transmit every keystroke and click. There are hardly any differences between Android and iOS here. This gives Google in particular comprehensive access to user data, even on iOS. However, there are mobile operating systems like CalyxOS, GrapheneOS, LineageOS and /e/OS that are all based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and show that there is another way.

Without tracking only with alternative Android

Without tracking only with alternative Android

Apart from /e/OS, the user interface differs only slightly from an Android system preinstalled on a smartphone. The biggest difference lies in the lack of and often annoying customizations made by smartphone manufacturers such as Xiaomi or Samsung, also known as bloatware and often including monitoring functions, as well as the absence of Google apps.

Due to licensing reasons, the Google apps are missing, which makes the alternative Android systems Google-free options. This not only eliminates the deep integration of the operating system with the associated data transmission to Google, but also access to the Play Store, the Play services and the advertising ID. The advertising ID is used for cross-app tracking and is also present in iOS in a similar form. However, iOS users are asked for permission before a tracking service can access it. According to a study by the University of Oxford, 86 percent of Android apps and 43 percent of iOS apps access the advertising ID.

This advertising ID enables tracking services such as Google Analytics to merge data from different apps. This allows the tracking service to find out the name of the user from an app, for example, and to collect information about the person’s sexual preferences or health problems through dating or health apps that are supposedly used anonymously. The alternative Android systems simply do not have this problem as there is no advertising ID.

If only privacy-friendly apps from the alternative app store F-Droid are used, a smartphone can be used completely free of Google and tracking. However, if you don’t want to do without certain apps (with trackers) from the Google Play Store, they can be obtained from the Aurora Store. It is also possible to lock them in their own work profile on Android. This gives them their own address book, calendar, and media folders.

If you want privacy on your smartphone and are not an experienced Linux user, you cannot avoid an alternative Android. Such systems can keep up with the pre-installed Android systems in terms of comfort and functionality and, depending on the variant selected, offer additional functions such as improved security or longer device life through regular updates. It’s definitely worth taking a closer look at each of the systems CalyxOS, GrapheneOS, LineageOS, and /e/OS to learn about their pros and cons.

Apart from /e/OS, the user interface differs only slightly from an Android system preinstalled on a smartphone. The biggest difference lies in the lack of and often annoying customizations made by smartphone manufacturers such as Xiaomi or Samsung, also known as bloatware and often including monitoring functions, as well as the absence of Google apps.

Due to licensing reasons, the Google apps are missing, which makes the alternative Android systems Google-free options. This not only eliminates the deep integration of the operating system with the associated data transmission to Google, but also access to the Play Store, the Play services and the advertising ID. The advertising ID is used for cross-app tracking and is also present in iOS in a similar form. However, iOS users are asked for permission before a tracking service can access it. According to a study by the University of Oxford, 86 percent of Android apps and 43 percent of iOS apps access the advertising ID.

This advertising ID enables tracking services such as Google Analytics to merge data from different apps. This allows the tracking service to find out the name of the user from an app, for example, and to collect information about the person’s sexual preferences or health problems through dating or health apps that are supposedly used anonymously. The alternative Android systems simply do not have this problem as there is no advertising ID.

If only privacy-friendly apps from the alternative app store F-Droid are used, a smartphone can be used completely free of Google and tracking. However, if you don’t want to do without certain apps (with trackers) from the Google Play Store, they can be obtained from the Aurora Store. It is also possible to lock them in their own work profile on Android. This gives them their own address book, calendar, and media folders.

If you want privacy on your smartphone and are not an experienced Linux user, you cannot avoid an alternative Android. Such systems can keep up with the pre-installed Android systems in terms of comfort and functionality and, depending on the variant selected, offer additional functions such as improved security or longer device life through regular updates. It’s definitely worth taking a closer look at each of the systems CalyxOS, GrapheneOS, LineageOS, and /e/OS to learn about their pros and cons.

Install Android open source on smartphone

Install Android open source on smartphone

To install Android Open Source Project (AOSP) on a device requires advanced technical knowledge and few steps! Please note that installing AOSP will reset your device to factory settings and erase all existing data. We explain the steps to install AOSP on a compatible device in the next sections. You can use a test tool to determine whether your device is compatible >>>

Preparation:

  • Make sure that your device is compatible with AOSP and that you have downloaded the appropriate drivers and tools for installation from the official site.
  • Back up any important data on the device as it will be erased during the installation process.

Unlock the bootloader:

  • Check if your device’s bootloader is locked. If so, you need to unlock it to be able to install custom ROMs like AOSP.
  • Note that bootloader unlocking mostly varies by manufacturer and device model. Be sure to look for the specific instructions for your device.

Preparation of the development environment:

  • Install the necessary tools on your computer, including the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) and Fastboot.
  • Make sure you have command line access to run the required ADB and Fastboot commands.

Downloading the AOSP source codes:

Compilation and installation of AOSP:

Follow the instructions in AOSP’s official documentation to compile the source codes and build the custom ROM.
Once you have created the custom ROM, you can use Fastboot to install it on your device. To do this, you need to put the device in fastboot mode and run the appropriate command on your computer.

Note: This process may vary depending on the device and developer environment. It’s important to find guides specific to your device and make sure you’re following the right steps. Installing AOSP requires technical knowledge and carries the risk of damaging the device.

Only carry out the above steps if you know exactly what you are doing, or else seek professional help!

To install Android Open Source Project (AOSP) on a device requires advanced technical knowledge and few steps! Please note that installing AOSP will reset your device to factory settings and erase all existing data. We explain the steps to install AOSP on a compatible device in the next sections. You can use a test tool to determine whether your device is compatible >>>

Preparation:

  • Make sure that your device is compatible with AOSP and that you have downloaded the appropriate drivers and tools for installation from the official site.
  • Back up any important data on the device as it will be erased during the installation process.

Unlock the bootloader:

  • Check if your device’s bootloader is locked. If so, you need to unlock it to be able to install custom ROMs like AOSP.
  • Note that bootloader unlocking mostly varies by manufacturer and device model. Be sure to look for the specific instructions for your device.

Preparation of the development environment:

  • Install the necessary tools on your computer, including the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) and Fastboot.
  • Make sure you have command line access to run the required ADB and Fastboot commands.

Downloading the AOSP source codes:

Compilation and installation of AOSP:

Follow the instructions in AOSP’s official documentation to compile the source codes and build the custom ROM.
Once you have created the custom ROM, you can use Fastboot to install it on your device. To do this, you need to put the device in fastboot mode and run the appropriate command on your computer.

Note: This process may vary depending on the device and developer environment. It’s important to find guides specific to your device and make sure you’re following the right steps. Installing AOSP requires technical knowledge and carries the risk of damaging the device.

Only carry out the above steps if you know exactly what you are doing, or else seek professional help!

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About the Author:

Michael W. Suhr
Michael W. SuhrDipl. Betriebswirt | Webdesign- und Beratung | Office Training
After 20 years in logistics, I turned my hobby, which has accompanied me since the mid-1980s, into a profession, and have been working as a freelancer in web design, web consulting and Microsoft Office since the beginning of 2015. On the side, I write articles for more digital competence in my blog as far as time allows.

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About the Author:

Michael W. Suhr
Michael W. SuhrDipl. Betriebswirt | Webdesign- und Beratung | Office Training
After 20 years in logistics, I turned my hobby, which has accompanied me since the mid-1980s, into a profession, and have been working as a freelancer in web design, web consulting and Microsoft Office since the beginning of 2015. On the side, I write articles for more digital competence in my blog as far as time allows.

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