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App Development for /e/ OS

Building privacy-focused system level apps for /e/ OS (operating system).

From early 2018 to mid 2019, I interned with French startup /e/ OS (e Foundation). This OS was created with the goal of building an open-source privacy-focused alternative to Android & iOS, and contains no trackers or spyware from companies like Google or Apple.

As a core member of the team, I built various system apps such as Mail, Calendar, App Installer and Account Manager, while collaborating with other contributors from around the world.

My Experience

With large multi-national corporations controlling large swathes of our personal data, /e/ OS aims to be a user-friendly, convenient , and privacy-respecting alternative to operating systems such as Android and iOS.

As my first freelance project, I was grateful for the opportunity to work with Gaël Duval (founder of /e/ OS) and collaborate with developers, designers and contributors from around the world.

Over the course of 1.5 years, I gained significant experience in app development (Java, Kotlin), Android OS development, cross-team collaboration, project management, and other skills.

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Mail

While various email clients already exist for mobile devices, it's impossible to know what they actually do with your data, how they store it, and what it's used for.

In line with the goals of /e/ OS, I build the core Mail app that allows users to sync, manage, and write their emails using a privacy-respecting client app.

Originally a fork of the open-source project K-9 Mail, I redesigned the app to have a better UI & UX, integrated support for email providers such as /e/ email, Gmail, Yahoo, etc., and improved app reliability.

Account Manager

A significant (but typically invisible) feature of modern operating systems is SSO (single sign-on).

 

For example, while setting up an Android device, users are asked to sign-in with their Google account only once. Unknown to the user, by the time they've finished setting up their device, all their contacts, calendar events, emails, and notes have been automatically synced.

This is a subtle but powerful feature of operating systems, allowing users significant flexibility in transitioning between devices, accounts, and keeping their personal data backed up to the cloud.

As /e/ OS doesn't include any such services from Google or Apple, I built Account Manager (as a fork of the open-source project DAVdroid). I was responsible for implementing Google OAuth (open authentication) support, /e/ account support, and integrating with the OS at a system-level.

Account Manager automatically syncs users' contacts, calendar, email, notes, tasks, and drive with /e/ Cloud or their Google account, allowing a seamless transition from Android or iOS to /e/ OS.

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App Installer

App Installer is similar to Google Play or the App Store, wherein thousands of mobile applications & games are available for download & installation. As app stores by Google and Apple are unavailable within /e/ OS, I was given the task of building App Installer from scratch, to provide users with an easy way of browsing and downloading apps.

As the sole developer for the front-end of this app, I designed its UI & UX, built features such as recommended apps, search, categories, background updates, and user preferences.

A unique feature of App Installer is "Privacy Score". Every app listed on the store is rated on a scale of 1 to 10, based on how well it respects the privacy of users.

App Installer was built in Kotlin using native Android SDKs.

Android OS Development

Apart from creating core system-level apps for /e/ OS, I also took up the task of compiling the OS for various devices. This allowed me to learn more about customising the Android operating system at a low-level and gave me experience in custom ROM development.

This was crucial for configuring battery-optimisation modes, permissions and background processes to provide users of my apps with a seamless experience.

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