I definitely like the idea of them beefing up security and helping users avoid being tracked and having their data mined by companies, but I feel like this could be achievable without needing to sacrifice stock Android, and the benefits that come with it. They just need to take a smart approach to it.
Certainly, I'm not suggesting they heavily skin their version of Android. I'm just, as you stated, wishing they'd beef up privacy and security quite a bit. HMD are making their money from hardware and a good reputation, so they'd be one of the few reliable sources for tracking blockers and other privacy-related measures for consumers. It's also one of the few things people are unlikely to be upset about having pre-installed on their devices.
I agree. Im the kinda guy who's highly concerned about security, and whilst I don't typically appreciate pre-installed apps unless their absolutely necessary and have said so elsewhere, I wouldn't mind in the if said apps were concerning user privacy and assisting them in protecting it.
I hope Nokia/HMD take a look at this and consider it. I think it'd definitely earn them some points in the Smartphone race. Especially with privacy revelations left and right exposing just how vulnerable we are, and just how much data is being hoovered up by big corporations, shady 3rd parties, and government agencies with questionable authority and justification in doing so.
II really like this idea. Especially since Google is getting data greedy.
I agree I'd like to see this for Android, it's one of my main concerns about using it as a mobile OS. With Android I generally try to use Firefox for everything instead of apps for this very reason - I trust Mozilla, I do not trust Google.
HMD/Nokia seem to have a special relationship with Google so I think it's unlikely that HMD/Nokia will develop software that will undermine their partner's business.
What specific functions do you think are needed?
@madbilly: You have already mentioned elsewhere that HMD/Nokia and Google have a special relationship. I hope that this relationship is not as "special" as it was between Nokia and Microsoft.
As for the security features:
I think HMD/Nokia will find it difficult to differentiate itself from other Android-based device manufacturers without features and services that create additional value for users (even if they differ from Google).
Regarding the "special relationship", I wrote this because it's what I have read elsewhere, I don't have any privileged information on this matter. I agree that the Nokia-MS thing turned into a mess that we all want to avoid. Personally I don't think that Google are interested in Nokia for the same reasons that MS were - Google don't need Nokia, but it helps them to be associated with huge brand like Nokia which is actually a relatively small company (comparing HMD with Samsung, for example). MS did need Nokia and they still messed up, taking old Nokia down with them :(
I agree with your requests, I too would like to use Android without Google :) There is a good article here: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/using-android-without-google/ and many others are available.
I agree that improving customer choice on Android would give Nokia an edge over many other OEMs. However, I think that Google forbids the brand "Android" to be used if the Google ecosystem isn't embedded - I'm not certain about this, so I'm happy to be corrected.
In summary, choice would be great, there are many many many capable services that can replace Google ones, but customers need to be able to choose this. The present arrangement is very similar to Windows, IE and Media Player back in the early 2000s, and that didn't turn out well for MS. I hope Google learns a lesson and remembers not to be greedy (evil).
I also heard of the "close partnership" between HMD and Google when HMD was first founded, but it turned out to be a misquotation. There's no such thing, as the updated article on Android Authority clarifies:
"Update: Reuters has since removed the “close partnership” comment from its article (which you can still read via The Way Back Machine), either indicating that HMD or Google requested its removal or that Reuters misunderstood the comments made by Arto Nummela on HMD’s collaboration with Google and clarified the text of the article."
But as you say, I think Google has some rules about having to bundle a whole heap of their other software to get Google Play certified. On the other hand, it's exactly that behaviour that landed Microsoft in a massive antitrust suit in EU, so I'm hoping Google will be taken down a few notches by the EU for the same reason. That'd allow HMD to more freely let users choose between open-source or privacy-focused alternatives, and remove Google or Facebook services they don't want when first setting up their device.
That's all the same sort of additional configuration I'd like too, you explained it well.
And thanks for the clarification about the relationship between HMD and Google.