Prospects for an accessible and open version of Android?
Linux for blind general discussion
blinux-list at redhat.com
Sun Jun 14 09:08:39 UTC 2020
I've been doing some web crawling, trying to get an idea of the prospects
for a blind-accessible, (mostly) open source OS for Android HW devices.
The rest of this message is a mishmash of links and notes; if anyone can
provide additions and corrections, I'd be most grateful...
The Android application package (APK) is the Golden Path for distribution,
but some Google Play apps aren't available to "rooted" Android phones:
SafetyNet Explained: Why Android Pay and Other Apps Don’t Work on Rooted Devices
It would be nice to have a Linux-friendly tool (e.g., APT) as an alternative.
Meanwhile, some packages are available via microG (https://microg.org).
The Golden Path for a11y seems to be the Android Accessibility Suite, available
on the Google Play Store:
More general information is available on the Android accessibility overview page:
This seems interesting, even though it (currently) only supports Chinese.
However, it (and EMUI) are proprietary.
> Celia is an artificially intelligent virtual assistant developed by Huawei
for its latest Android-based EMUI smartphones that lack Google Services
and a Google Assistant.
## Screen Readers, etc.
TalkBack and BrailleBack (both found in the Android Accessibility Suite)
seem to be the Golden Path for blind-friendly Android support.
Despite this title, there doesn't appear to be any APK version of Orca:
Orca Download for Linux (apk, deb, eopkg, rpm, tgz, txz, xz, zst)
More generally, I can't find any open source screen readers listed for APK:
Search Results for "screen reader"
# OS Family Tree
TL;DR: There are lots of (all or mostly) free OS variants, but their a11y
support is extremely limited. Also, many of them are only intended to be
used on a single vendor's devices.
Anyway, here is an OS family tree of sorts, with informational links.
It's based on Wikipedia's "List of custom Android distributions"
supplemented with information gleaned from assorted web sites (YMMV).
Linux - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_kernel
- AOSP - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android_(operating_system)#AOSP
- - ConquerOS - https://github.com/ConquerOS/manifest
- - CopperheadOS - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CopperheadOS
- - CyanogenMod - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CyanogenMod
- - - LineageOS - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LineageOS
- - - - CrDroid - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CrDroid
- - - - Project Sakura - https://sourceforge.net/projects/projectsakura/files/Mido
- - - - Replicant - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replicant_(operating_system)
- - - - - /e/ - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki//e/_(operating_system)
- - DerpFest - https://derpfest.org
- - Emteria.OS - https://emteria.com
- - EMUI - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EMUI
- - EvolutionX - https://evolution-x.org/#
- - Flyme - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meizu#Flyme
- - GrapheneOS - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GrapheneOS
- - GSI - https://source.android.com/setup/build/gsi
- - Havoc-OS - https://sourceforge.net/projects/havoc-os
- - Ion OS - https://sourceforge.net/projects/i-o-n
- - MoKee - https://download.mokeedev.com
- - MIUI - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIUI
- - MSM-Xtended - https://sourceforge.net/projects/xtended
- - OmniROM - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OmniROM
- - OxygenOS - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OxygenOS
- - Paranoid Android - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranoid_Android_(software)
- - Pixel Experience - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixel_Experience
- - Realme - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Realme
- - Smartisan OS - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smartisan_OS
- - ViperOS - https://download.viperos.org/#
# Starting Points
My suspicion is that the LineageOS, Replicant, and /e/ flavors are the
most promising starting points, but I could certainly be wrong. If you
know of something you think is better, please let me know!
Speaking of which, the definition of "better" is very context-dependent.
If avoiding any and all proprietary software is your goal, Replicant may
be the best choice. If you want instant gratification, you might want
to purchase a phone that already has /e/ installed...
Also, if you're only using Wi-Fi for connectivity, you can ignore some
cell phone issues (e.g., CDMA, FDMA, and TDMA signal encoding).
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