One of the projects I have been watching with curiosity over the past year is /e/ (formerly Eelo), a mobile operating system that is based on Android, but with the pieces associated with Google’s software and services removed.
The removed pieces have been replaced with alternatives, so that it still functions as a complete mobile operating system. DistroWatch is quite impressed with the release, while noting it still has some rough edges.
The /e/ phone does not offer all the apps Android does, and it might not be entirely polished yet in the re-branding experience. However, it does provide a very solid, mostly Android compatible experience without the Google bits. The /e/ team offers a wider range of hardware support than most other iOS and Android competitors, it offers most of the popular Android apps people will probably want to use (I only discovered a few missing items I wanted), and the on-line cloud services are better than those of any other phone I’ve used (including Ubuntu One and Google).
I’d certainly recommend /e/ for more technical users who can work around minor rough edges and who won’t get confused by the unusual branding and semi-frequent permission prompts. I’m not sure if I’d hand one of these phones over to an Android power-user who uses a lot of niche apps, but this phone would certainly do well in the hands of, for instance, my parents or other users who tend to interact with their phones for texting, phone calls, and the calendar without using many exotic applications.
That’s quite impressive, and while unlikely, it would be great to have a stable, fully functional Android ROM that’s Google-free.