A privacy-focused startup operating system wants to replace Android on your phone, but also wants you to pay for it

So you may have heard the name Petter Neby. He is one of the early adopters of the “dumb phone = better lifephilosophy, so he founded Punkt. In doing so, he created several iterations of a stylish and minimalistic phone, which is neither stupid nor conventionally smart. As in, it has internet, but its application is limited. Well, Petter Neby is now involved in a new startup called apostrophy (yes, with a Y). Hailing from Switzerland, the project revolves around the idea of ​​creating a next-generation privacy-focused operating system (OS). It will be called AphyOS and promises “No sneaky terms”. Oh, and it will be a subscription-based service.

But why on earth would you pay for such a service? Well, the company explains it in the FAQ section of their website, while also taking the opportunity to poke a joke at Google. Basically it goes like this: you also pay for using Android, but you pay in user data, not money. Apostrophy’s spin on the situation is that it exists to give you a choice, in case you’d rather pay with hard, cold cash.

Why should a mobile operating system be a subscription service?

But wait, it’s still an operating system, so why isn’t it a one-time purchase? That has also been explained. The best way to phrase it would be to say it’s going to be a decentralized operating system. This means that while you have your phone, its features and apps on the backend at your end, a group of highly trained privacy experts will work non-stop to guarantee you the privacy promised. And that’s not something they can go and do one time, and then mark it as done. As technology evolves, new features are introduced, many of which also provide hackers – largely unintentionally – with opportunities to abuse the system and rob users of their data. Ergo, this subscription will basically act as the fuel to keep those privacy experts going, making sure your privacy-focused operating system doesn’t become obsolete in a month or so.

But AphyOS also has some other unique features. For example, their website gives you access to some of the apps you use on your phone, just as Google has desktop versions of Keep and Calendar, or how Apple has iCloud.com. So okay, not exactly unique, but still cool.

Here are some of the apps listed at launch to support this functionality:

  • Aphi email
  • AphyVPN
  • Secure storage
  • Secure calendar
  • Notes
  • To-do lists

This is really the part where Peter Nebby’s signature is visible. He’s a real proponent of the fact that phones are all-consuming right now, whereas a system where your phone and computer complement each other would allow you to focus on both your work and your life, separately.

If AphyOS isn’t Android, what is it? We will…

That’s very neat and all, but what is AphyOS actually based on? While it sometimes sounds like a completely standalone operating system, the truth is that it’s technically based on Android (wah-wah). The website cleverly masks this by citing “based on GrapheneOS”, and sure enough – Graphene is a stable, pre-existing privacy-focused OS for phones, but it’s also based on Android. While the way Android is built allows for a lot of customization, to the point where you can add your own unique functions and features, but even then it would still be Android. Aphy’s developers may want to keep it under wraps, as it sounds rather counterintuitive – with their premature joke to Google and all – but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re modifying an already existing mod of Android.

The website also does this interesting thing where it mentions “Aphy phones”. Given that Punkt is a thing maybe we can expect an AphyOS phone at some point but in general if the operating system is based on Android a lot of phones will probably be able to run it even though they probably need an user with a subscription to keep the phone up to date.

AphyOS is just the beginning and the Aphy phone is the future!

The company also makes a very bold claim on their FAQ page. Reportedly, several European-based phone makers have already planned to release smartphones with AphyOS pre-installed in 2023 (and this is the part where minds are amazed). And this, if true – as we don’t really have any reason to believe otherwise at this point – would really be a game changer.

First, buying an “Aphy Phone” would mean that the user would theoretically have to buy the phone and then immediately subscribe to its operating system. If they don’t like it, they’ll have to figure out how to get stock Android there, and even that can be a pain since the base droid may not even be optimized for that device. Thank goodness flagships are optimized!

However, as a counterpoint, this ties in nicely with the company’s claim to give the user a choice. If major brands – or at least medium-sized brands – release phones that come with AphyOS, and if users are attracted to them, it may prompt Google to reconsider the ordeal and accept it as feedback. Users may even be able to pay the big G for a subscription fee to save their data from ad revenue hell.

That would effectively relieve Apostrophy of their duties immediately, but it would also truly realize the company’s end-goal philosophy, which they go into great detail on their website.

Overall, AphyOS wants to stir the pot. Pete Nebby and company are definitely up to something interesting, and we can’t wait to see what Aphy phones come out in the future, for example. More importantly, how users will react to the subscription, which incidentally has not yet received a price tag.