If you're an Android user, Google has a scary amount of information on you, and matters get worse if you're deeply embedded in the company's app ecosystem — getting locked out of your Google account can have serious consequences then. Thankfully, Android is open source, so it's possible to evade Google without having to leave the platform altogether — just look at Amazon's tablets or Huawei's Google-less phones. But if you'd rather be completely independent from big corporations, going for a free and open-source custom ROM built on top of Android's core might be the best solution.
The Fairphone 3 is the perfect choice for somebody who values a repairable, environment-friendly phone, but just like most other handsets, it runs an Android version with Google apps out of the box — not ideal for someone who is additionally looking to take the Californian company out of the equation. That's where a new cooperation with /e/OS, the de-Googlefied Android version based on LineageOS and microG, comes in. The foundation behind it will start selling the Fairphone 3 equipped with its Android fork on May 6.
Technically speaking, Android is open-source. This means anyone can look at the operating system's code, or change it - this is how OEMs like HTC and Samsung add their own tweaks. That openness has often been a rallying cry for hardcore Android enthusiasts. Why use a closed platform like iOS, when you can have a free and open-source platform?
But even from the beginning, there were components of Android that were closed-source. The Gmail app, Maps, Google Talk, and the Play Store were some of the earliest examples. To combat the always-present fragmentation of Android, Google offers many APIs through the Play Services Framework.