If you get your hands on the new Punkt. MC02 and fire up AphyOS, you'll notice something very unique right away. The software experience is split in two.
Separating two usage scenarios in one phone isn't a new idea. BlackBerry and Palm are among several companies who skinned their OS during their history to have separate areas for work and personal use. These areas had different app collections, wallpapers, and settings saved for work and personal modes. But AphyOS does something different with their duality, separating their OS experience between public and private.They call it the Domus and the Piazza.
What is the AphyOS Piazza?
The Piazza is aptly named - an Italian word for a public square. In the AphyOS world, this space is where you interact with the rest of the world, installing whatever apps you want, just like on any other Android phone.
Unlike any other Android phone, AphyOS strips Google from the OS-level experience. This means that your apps will not be sharing information between each other about your usage habits. Furthermore, you will be able to select any app in the Piazza, pull up "The Ledger" and dial in specific privacy settings on an app-by-app basis.
The Piazza is a sandboxed environment for running the Android apps you know and love.
These permissions range in five different levels. You can entirely deny all requested permissions (which may affect the app's functionality). Choose a midway point, granting permissions related to hardware, network, and peripherals, while denying access to personal data. Or, simply allow the app whatever access it wants to your contacts, camera, location, and personal information.
Unlike previous privacy-centric operating systems that limited the apps available to install (to the point where users were missing out compared to their other Android friends) AphyOS gives people the flexibility to install the apps they want. But in doing so, the agreement for the amount of info and data you exchange is between you, as the user, and the individual app maker, not the company that owns the operating system on your phone.
Now, if you're installing Google Docs, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc., you've probably come to terms with the amount of personal information you're giving away to these companies. But unlike a traditional Android operating system, where many of those permissions are just assumed when you're rapidly scrolling through the terms and conditions when you first set-up your phone, AphyOS is giving you the chance to agree to those terms on an app-by-app basis and dial those back easily, if you ever want to, using their digital ledger.
By having the Piazza space, people who use an Aphy-powered phone won't be limited in terms of being able to use their favorite streaming services they're used to or communicating with their friends through the apps everyone else in their circle has installed. The sandboxed environment of the Piazza keeps these "public" Android apps separate from Aphy's core experience, the Domus.
What is the Domus on AphyOS?
The Domus, named after the private, upper class dwellings of the Romans, is where users who are vigilant about their privacy can feel completely secure.
The Domus is Apostrophy's main home screen. It's grayscale and has the core apps built for AphyOS, like Email, Calendar, and a wonderfully granular Task Manager. You'll also find Digital Nomad (Aphy's VPN/dedicated DNS) and the GMS Wizard (which allows you to install the Google Play store…after a very on-the-nose warning that they spent a lot of time taking Google out of the phone equation and you're about to welcome them back in).
The is a secure environment for core apps like email, contacts, and tasks lists where privacy is paramount
There's also an Aphy Store, but there's not a whole lot of additional apps in there yet.
The Domus is where the integrity of your personal data and the apps you use are verified and secured to the highest standards. By establishing a definitive chain of trust, Apostrophy, the company that makes AphyOS, is able to validate each hardware component and software application it connects with. This creates an environment where the user can be absolutely certain that the device is fully secure and protected.
Apostrophy is able to achieve this with their current OEM, the lovely folks at Punkt. and will establish this relationship with upcoming hardware manufacturers. That relationship allows Apostrophy to be part of the manufacturing and update process for an end-to-end relationship with the devices that will run AphyOS.
It's a level of quality and security that should resonate strongly with the old BlackBerry and BB10 crowd. But unlike the compromises people had to make with BB10 (lack of supported apps) this isn't an issue with Apostrophy, thanks to the dichotomy of the Domus and the Piazza, providing security and compatibility.
How secure is AphyOS?
Apostrophy cares about digital sovereignty and thinks that more people should give a damn about the personal information they share with software companies in exchange for services. They are transparent about their relationship with the customer. If you want to use AphyOS, they're going to ask you to pay an annual subscription fee (which is included for free for the first year when you buy hardware with AphyOS on it).
Some people may balk at the idea of paying for something we're used to getting for free. But the average user is actually giving away quite a bit of value in the form of their browsing and usage habits when they use a "free" operating system, so what is more important? Paying some cash each year? Or protecting your personal information?
I'm guessing most people are happy enough with the traditional system we've known for so long. Give me an operating system that works well, and I'll check a little box that says you can use my data.
But I also think, as time goes on, more people will start to be cognizant of the amount of information they're sharing. And wondering where all that information goes, how it's being used, and why it's so valuable to these big companies to have all that data.
AphyOS has the best shot at commercial viability by providing both a secure space and a compatible partition so you don't have to choose between privacy and functionality
While other companies have taken swings at making new operating systems, many of them are not commercially viable. They're either too obscure, don't have a clear brand identity, or are private to the point of being restrictive for the user.
Apostrophy seems to be on the right track of balancing privacy and compatibility. Their partitioned approach using the Domus and the Piazza is an elegant and user-friendly way of bringing a viable alternative to Android and iOS to the masses.