Tuesday, February 5, 2019

"I Cut Apple Out of My Life. It Was Devastating"

From the ongoing series in which Kashmir Hill tries to cut out Facebook, Google, Microsoft, And Amazon from her life:
Unfortunately, the smartphone market is currently a duopoly. It’s basically impossible to get a smartphone that is not part of the Android or Apple ecosystems.


I do have a computer, one that I can use for the final two weeks of the experiment: a Librem 13, made by a company called Purism that is fiercely opposed to the tech giants, avoiding them like the plague in a self-proclaimed “liberation effort.” The bulk of my job can be done online, use a browser and some browser-based apps. I can also use it to make calls, video chat, and send texts over messaging apps like Signal. So a laptop is all I really need to get by—theoretically, at least.

The Purism is pure black with the company’s white square logo appearing only on a single key on the keyboard and hidden on the bottom of the computer. It’s made of brushed aluminum like a Mac laptop, but the company anodizes it because “Apple has a monopoly on raw aluminum,” says Purism founder Todd Weaver. (Not an actual monopoly, but in the perception sense.)

The 13-inch Librem (which means “freedom book”) has a GNU/Linux operating system, an Apple-level price tag of $1,399, and a lot of privacy-and-security bells and whistles—some of which throw me: I can’t get the camera and microphone on my laptop to work for a video chat one day, because I don’t see that the computer has a tiny kill switch for them, and that they’re switched on.


My only choice at Target for a non-Apple, non-Google phone is the Nokia 3310, a device originally from the early aughts that was re-released in 2017—almost, I think, as a joke. The Target clerk, whose tag reads Jacob L., but who tells me his name is actually Jacob Day, seems very excited that I am going to buy this phone, as if it’s an event that doesn’t happen often. He tells me how Nokia keeps making the 3310 because of memes about how indestructible it is.