Groundbreaking apostrophe phone doesn't leak your privacy

  • Punkt by Apostropy offers a new way to use your phone.
  • Its privacy-first design completely sandboxes regular Android apps.
  • The trend away from the app-based iPhone/Android paradigm is small but growing.

The Punkt phone from Swiss company Apostropy is part of a new trend that's moving away from the typical app-based phone model in favor of something more focused and private.

Almost all phones run iOS or Android, and broadly speaking, the two are the same. They wake up to a series of apps that you can switch between to get work done, or in the case of Instagram or TikTok, let your brain do the work. But a new generation of mobile devices is beginning to emerge that prioritize your attention and privacy over a cornucopia of distractions and data mining. It looks like Apostrope has come up with a great halfway house.

Dhanvin Sriram said: "The scarcity of alternative operating systems for mobile phones can be attributed to the entrenched market position of iOS and Android, which creates significant barriers for newcomers. User familiarity, app ecosystem and developer support play a key role in sustaining the duopoly plays a vital role," the founder of software company PromptVibes told Lifewire via email.

Computing used to be document-based. You start by finding a file on your computer (Word document, PDF, some kind of image) and then opening it to read or modify it. Even when you fire up Photoshop to create something from scratch, you create a file and carefully place it in a folder.

Today, everything is an app. Sometimes, there's still a file somewhere, but that's usually irrelevant since we're not actually creating anything on the phone. We might use apps to enhance selfies or write messages to friends, but the basic purpose of our computers has changed. We look up information and browse the “content.” If we create anything, it's investing a lot of time into creating photographic evidence of a fake lifestyle and posting it to social media apps, all while squeezing every last drop of private data from your activities.

That said, maybe there's another way. Punkt still runs on Android, but since Android is open source, it can be tweaked and modified. Wake up your Apostropy phone and instead of seeing a grid of apps, you'll see a grid of icons for accessing your data (email, files, calendar, etc.). The idea seems to be that you can pull out your phone, look up the address of the party you're going to, and then not be tempted by all the tempting messages in WhatsApp groups.

It's a subtle distinction, to be sure, but so is the difference between pre-Internet and post-Internet PCs and Macs. Aside from the added modern conveniences, they look the same, but the way we use them is completely different.

But the apostrophe doesn't stop there. The manufacturer clearly realizes that using apps is essential, so even though they're not the focus of this phone, you still have access to the Google Play Store, albeit differently. Regular Android apps run in a "sandbox," so they can't interact with anything else on the phone. You decide how much information they can have. It's a bit like having a separate phone for each app.

The way the apostrophe distinguishes these states is clever. The standard Apostrophe home screen (called "Domus," a name no one would use) is grayscale. Then, when you enter the "Plaza" (the Android app section), everything is in color, just like Dorothy visiting Oz.

More than anything, the apostrophe is an interesting anomaly in the smartphone world, and one that promises to herald a more diverse future. It's a good option for people who want more privacy and control, but it might not be enough.

For a more radical approach to mobile computing, take a look at the Rabbit R1, a small, cute AI-powered handheld device that you can talk to and use your apps for you, and which has embraced countless web apps Program interface training can help you. Learn how they work. It completely eliminates apps, eliminating all annoyances, dark mode, and eye-catching social notifications.

The world of app-based mobile computing isn't for everyone, and currently, for anyone who wants to quit, there are few options short of giving up their phone entirely, which is pretty radical. The rise of softer, more user-friendly interfaces and a radical focus on user privacy is a welcome trend and promises to be a pointer to a more diverse, healthy ecosystem of mobile computing options.