[Freedom-misc] Mobile Devices Respecting Software Freedom (follow-up)

strypey at disintermedia.net.nz strypey at disintermedia.net.nz
Mon Sep 17 11:09:27 CEST 2018


The OP quoted by hack and hack was by me. A couple of points:

 > "So the separation of tasks between the dumb and smartphone is to keep apps  
data from communicating outside ?"

No, it's to keep any dodgy proprietary code in the cell modem firmware from  
hijacking or interfering with the apps. Although I guess if I'm using a  
device with proprietary WiFi firmware, the same risks exist. Perhaps for now  
the only option is to assume everything that happens on the phone is being  
monitored, and use it only for non-sensitive purposes?

 > "What about a faraday cage/pouch?"

I guess this is a solution for offline apps, like OSMAnd with downloaded  
maps, so it can work offline. It isn't a solution for any app that requires a  
network connection to be useful, eg Wire for sending messages to or calling  
friends and family without using Skype, FB Messenger, or WhatsApp (or  
expensive international phone calls).

Thanks for the list of suggestions for how to live without a mobile device,  
but since I've never owned a mobile device, I'm well aware of the  
work-arounds ;) But a single mobile device can replace a whole backpack full  
of devices (eg phone, camera, music player) and heavy paper (phrase book,  
paper maps, bus and train timetables, newspapers/ magazines/ books). It can  
do many things that can be done with a laptop, but a laptop can't be carried  
in a pocket, and it's battery won't last all day without a charge.

Also, there are some problems mobile apps can solve that cannot be solved any  
other way. For example, I often go into restaurant where the menu is all in  
Chinese characters. There is a mobile app called WayGo that can scan a line  
of Chinese characters and give a translation. There is no way to do this  
without a mobile device, except to learn the hundreds of characters regularly  
used in Chinese writing (or only go to places with English menus, which is  
*very* limiting and tends to be more expensive)

 > "Not using a phone is also an option"

For me, it really isn't, and I'm finding that not having an Android is making  
it very difficult to inter-operate with people in China. I can't make the  
most of the opportunities of living in a new country if all I end up doing is  
sitting at home all day on the internet, reading and writing in English, and  
watching downloaded videos, because I can't keep in touch with people and  
make arrangements to meet up.


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