The Alcatel Onetouch PIXI 3: A Dark…Windows 10 Mobile Option?
Before the shitstorm of emails and bitmessages hits me that says something to the effect of: “What?! You’re talking about Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile on the Dark Android Project’s blog?!” Relax, I’ve done this before (READ: Dark Windows Phone?). And I’ve made it a side mission of the Dark Android Project to talk about securing any mobile platform (iOS, Windows 10 Mobile, and Blackberry…thought Blackberry 10 is officially dead now). Of course, at the time that I wrote about it, there wasn’t much on the horizon other than a couple of coming Microsoft Lumia phones (the 950 and 950XL), and there was one phone coming from Acer, that being the wildly named Liquid Jade Primo.
These Windows phones have gotten a degree of praise from the Windows phone community (granted, what else are you going to priase?), and all three are capable of supporting the Continuum Dock technology, which allows you to connect your phone to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, and then the phone literally becomes a mini computer and the interface on the monitor transforms to a more traditional desktop styling (and I believe you can even use the phone still as a second screen). It’s pretty clever, and I love the idea. Another unique aspect of these phones, at least the Lumias, anyway, is that they are liquid-cooled. Yes, their processors are literally liquid-cooled, just like higher-end PC gaming rigs are. That’s a fun thing to boast about. And all of these devices are more or less in the wild, albeit at a pretty steep cost.
But what I’m going to tell you about today isn’t liquid-cooled, it can’t use Windows 10 Mobile’s Continuum technology, it’s not even technically a phone, but…it’s not expensive, and it runs Windows 10 Mobile. The Alcatel Onetouch PIXI 3 8-inch Windows 10 Mobile Tablet (say that three times fast).
With a 1.3 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 (MSM8909) processor, an 8-inch 1280×800 IPS, 1 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of onboard storage (with microSD up to 32 GB), the PIXI 3 is by no means a beast in any sense of the word. It may be the largest Windows 10 Mobile device available (and it hasn’t been released yet), but its specs don’t match its size. Also included is a 4G/LTE GSM radio (no CDMA), Bluetooth 4.1, a 5 MP rear camera, a 2 MP front camera, microUSB port for power, 3.5 mm audio jack, GPS, A-GPS, and a G-sensor (I don’t know what that is). It literally has everything a phone has…but it’s an 8-inch tablet. Whether or not you could slide in a SIM card or not and confuse an MVNO like Straight Talk, I’m not sure, but it might be possible.
Again, there is no word on price, but since it’s using specs similar to the lowest of end Lumias, I can’t picture this costing more than $200. Hell, it might be significantly cheaper than that.
So how does this relate to Dark Android and security? Honestly, as I’ve said when I’ve written about Windows 10 Mobile before, the fact that it’s a platform that isn’t target as much as iOS and Android is a security factor in itself. Of course, it being Microsoft also makes it a platform not concerned with privacy, keep that in mind. There is a dearth of apps available for Windows 10 Mobile, and the whole Universal Apps idea from Microsoft (which would allow apps written for Windows 10 desktop, to also work on Windows 10 Mobile) doesn’t appear to have taken off yet. Granted, it’s still a new idea, but the implementation for it has been around long enough for companies to get onboard with it and they haven’t. The privacy-minded Telegram app is available for Windows 10 Mobile, but that’s about it for anything native that tries to follow Dark Android principles.
If you want to do anything particularly interesting with Windows 10 Mobile, you’re going to have to do it in the browser. And, of course, the only browser available is Microsoft Edge, which hasn’t lived up to its promises yet (nor would I recommend it even if it did live up to its promises). One of those promises that Microsoft Edge has made is the ability to support Chrome extensions (and maybe even apps, thought that is unclear). My main hope for this is that since Microsoft Edge is a Universal App, as I understand it, when Chrome extension compatibility comes, you will be able to use those extensions on the mobile version of Edge, just as you would on the desktop version of Edge. This would open up a whole world of possibilities, including great Bitcoin wallets (which Windows 10 Mobile is missing) like Copay and KryptoKit. For now, without the extensions, you’re stuck with using the Dark Android recommended web wallet: RushWallet (which is my recommendation for Dark Android, anyway). There are zero options for PGP-encrypted email, but if Chrome extensions came to the mobile version of Microsoft Edge, Mailvelope and others could be used (right now you’re stick with using Protonmail or Tutanota to do encrypted emails, and that’s because they’re web-based). If Chrome apps could work as well, then the Signal Desktop app could be used on Windows 10 Mobile. Suddenly the future would look much brighter as far as being able to do secure communications from the platform, but that’s what it would take.
I’ve theorized that perhaps the Firefox web browser would become a Universal App and could then be used on Windows 10 Mobile, with all of its extensions in tow (which Firefox for Android allows for, and it’s awesome), but it seems that Microsoft is a bit wary about allowing other web browsers on the Windows 10 Mobile platform, so I’m not holding my breath for that one to happen.
So you’re probably wondering why I’m even talking about the PIXI 3 tablet. Well, I bring it up for the purpose of experimentation. This thing is likely going to be ridiculously cheap, and it might be the best way to preview a very rare but intriguing platform (even though the most intriguing part of the platform–Continuum–isn’t available). It’s something to do if you have spare change and spare time. Some listeners of my show Sovryn Tech are very interested in what Microsoft has been doing as late with Windows 10 and the like (Cortana, Universal Apps, etc.), and if you were wondering whether or not you could survive on the Windows 10 Mobile platform, here’s your chance to try it out. I also have an app coming out for all things zog.ninja (Sovryn Tech, Dark Android, Zomia Offline Games, etc.), and I am making an app for Windows 10 Mobile, along with Android and iOS. The Windows Phone audience is a passionate one, and if you’re developing things, maybe you’ll find you don’t want to leave them out, and the PIXI 3 will give you an inexpensive way of testing out what you develop.
So the PIXI 3 Windows 10 Mobile tablet is just for fun, and I haven’t even had the opportunity to play with Windows 10 Mobile yet, so maybe this tablet will be ridiculously cheap and will give us all the chance on (not so nice) 8-inch screen. Personally, I like to see how far I can push things, and how much I can make something do things it was never meant to do…like making a Windows 10 Mobile device a secure and somewhat private device. Like I said, if it’s cheap enough, perhaps I’ll give it a shot. Maybe you’ll want to experiment, too. But if you’re really wanting a secure device, by all means by a tablet…just don’t make it this one. There are quite a few good Android tablets out there.