Sony and ASUS…Making Dark Android and Beyond A Reality
As those that have read the Dark Android Project page know, Dark Android can only be anywhere near 100% DAPS if you’re doing it on a tablet. But for those that want to take a lot of Dark Android’s concepts to their phone, a couple of interesting things have entered the fray.
First, comes the news from Sony yesterday, which is really just a string of consistent releases coming from the Android Xperia-line phone and tablet maker. Sony has expanded their Xperia “open devices” initiative to now allow for open recovery partitions for many of their devices, as to where before they just offered the ROMs (alternative operating system installers) to run the AOSP version of Android (as compared to Sony’s own–not so terrible–Xperia flavor of Android). Throughout the Dark Android Project’s history, I have consistently said that if you’re not going with Google’s Nexus-line of devices, Sony’s Xperia line is the next best thing because of the companies near-overkill of an open attitude with their devices (as creating AOSP recovery partitions shows, since it is almost pointless with software like TWRP already existing).
My reason for sharing this news with you is just to prove the point about the viability of Sony Android devices, and it speaks even better of their tablet line which I’ve already recommended through the Dark Android Project. And I want to make it clear that I don’t recommend this lightly, as I think Sony’s past attitudes in many areas have been piss-poor, to say the least (SEE: the hero, George Hotz), and has even caused Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation to call for a boycott on Sony’s products. Those past attitudes may rightfully raise suspicion that Sony may not always be so “open” with their devices, as historically shown by the original Playstation 3. The PS3 at one time was able to have Linux easily installed on it BY THE CONSUMER (a major feature that they actively promoted and that made the PS3 very attractive to some, including myself). That feature was removed by a firmware update years later, which led to various unresolved lawsuits based upon the claim that the PS3 didn’t “perform as advertised” any longer. Point being, Sony can change its mind in a heartbeat without remorse. So if you have an ethical issue with Sony, no worries, I get it, but I just want you to be informed.
As for the news about ASUS, this comes on the heels of them announcing the release in the Colonies…err…North America…of their ZenFone 2 today. Bear in mind, this is a phone–and Dark Android recommends only using tablets for privacy and security–but ASUS has thrown an interesting curve ball with this device. Let’s look at the specs quick for the two models ASUS is releasing:
So you see, the curve ball is that Intel Atom processor. What’s so great about that? Well, Intel is known for its processors being configurable and open, which means that these phones could likely run operating systems beyond even Google’s Android, AOSP, or derivatives like CyanogenMod, without requiring hardware-specific modifications to those operating systems (which ARM processors do often require). That means the chance to run Windows 10 (and not just Windows Phone 10 if one really wanted to, and which may be open-source in the future), but more importantly, you may be able to easily install and run more serious versions of Linux (Ubuntu, Fedora, Gentoo, etc.) or even BSD distributions, all from the phone.
Something I’ve always desired (and that Ubuntu has long promised) is the ability to have your phone connect to a monitor, and a keyboard and mouse, and suddenly go from being your smartphone to instantly becoming your main desktop computer, all based upon what it’s connected too. That means you can go from making a phone call and texting someone, to plugging it into the aforementioned accessories and powering up a full-blown version of GIMP or Thunderbird (please us PGP). That ZenFone 2, particularly the insanely powerful $299 version, is about the closest device I’ve seen that could achieve those goals.
Regardless of my desires for a multi-role single-device, the ZenFone 2 (again, particularly the $299 version) has great specs for an Android device (and especially at that low price), and is easily my new top phone to recommend to people looking for an Android smartphone. The 4GB of RAM, the 1080p screen (which will allow for much better battery life than the new “standard” QHD screens on most flagship phones), the storage space, the Intel processor, and 5.5″ size all make for a solid device. ASUS is a top notch company when it comes to hardware, including being the producers of the main Dark Android recommended tablet–the 2013 Nexus 7–so seeing them enter the smartphone scene in the Colonies with another great device that has some serious secret potential is exciting.