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It seems like no matter where you turn, the online services we depend on every day are more-and-more hoovering up our data to advertise to us — or worse, to sell it to anybody that'll buy. It's one thing when it's your search history, but it's something else entirely when that data includes all of your email and cloud storage. Shouldn't that be extra secure, safe from the prying eyes of Google and institutions?
A few months ago I told you all about AphyOS, an all-new privacy-first mobile operating system. They're not in the business of scooping up all of your data, they don't want to sell your demographics profile to run some garbage ad against. And while there's a lot to be said for how they're building their on-device software and keeping everything on their secure, that doesn't do much to secure all of your data that's not on the phone.
Kevin Michaluk is an investor in and advisor to Apostrophy AG. He thinks this is such a great idea that he's putting his money where is mouth is.
Enter: Apostrophy Services
So much of our online life is tied into free services, and as the saying goes — if you're not paying for the product, then you are the product. Google doesn't offer Gmail and Drive and Calendar for free to users out of the goodness of their hearts. They do it because it puts all of your data in their hands, some of that out of convenience, but all of it with the end goal of getting your eyeballs looking at their ads.
If you're not paying for the product, then you are the product.
But just because that's how Google and Apple and Microsoft and Yahoo (still a thing, apparently) do business with your data doesn't mean that's the only way. In the same way that Apostrophy is building AphyOS to cut the data-farming and ads deluge out of your life, they're also making the cloud services component of the equation: Apostrophy Services.
The first smartphone to run AphyOS will launch later this year, but Apostrophy Services are now available. Longtime CrackBerry readers will remember the BlackBerry Playbook tablet... BlackBerry's answer to the iPad and our first glimpse of what would become BlackBerry 10 that got a lot of heat from the tech press and customers for launching without email functionality. That won't be an issue here!
Apostrophy Services offers the core personal data functions that make much of our product online existence possible: Email, Contacts, Calendar, and Tasks, plus 5GB of cloud data storage and support for ActiveSync so you can synchronize all of that with Outlook or your device. It's built using Free & Open Source Software with industry-standard formats.
And it's platform agnostic — just because you may subscribe to Apostrophy Services doesn't mean you need to hook it up to an AphyOS-powered phone (though I'll encourage you to pick up an Aphy-powered phone when it hits the market for the ultimate solution - there's going to be some interesting stuff happening under the hood and how it works that will make it stand out from other services out there like Proton). You could just as easily plug it into an iPhone or Android or Outlook or whatever other Personal Information Management solution you like. Standard protocols like IMAP for email, CalDAV for calendar, and CardDAV for contacts are all broadly supported.
Fundamental Online Privacy
Privacy is the big deal for Apostrophy Services, and that works in two ways. First is that they literally only have the physical infrastructure set up in Switzerland, and that's on purpose. Swiss privacy laws are strong. Having your data only there and on your device minimizes the opportunities for nefarious actors to get their paws on your data. Security experts are a core part of the Apostrophy team and they've built the whole thing from the ground up with that in mind.
But perhaps more important is how Apostrophy Services are paid for: it's you, the paying subscriber, not a marketer bidding to get their ads in front of whatever demographic group you're part of. And yes, that means that it does cost money. Apostrophy is charging as little as 11.99 Swiss Francs per month (that's currently a bit over $13 US dollars). Remember: whoever is paying is the real customer, here that's you and not the advertiser.
If you want to just dip your toes into trying out Apostrophy Services, you can try it for free for one month. And if you sign up in the next week you can get 20% off your subscription with the code APHYEARLY20 (good until 11 June 2023).
Over the past 15 years I've seen CrackBerry members be the best product testers out there, so really hope and appreciate many of you will take advantage of this offer and give Aphy services a try. If you have feedback, ideas, questions, etc. you can send them to cbk @ crackberry.com and I'll be sure they get passed onto the Apostrophy team. I'm getting really excited for the progress being made on all things Aphy and the launch of Apostrophy services is a big milestone on the path!