RUSSIA has shown off a stripped-down version of Android for use in government and military-issue smartphones that removes Google's ability to collect data from mobile devices.
Google's Android operating system enables the firm to gain a considerable amount of personal information and usage data from those that carry smartphones and tablets running the operating system. It is not a huge surprise then that Russia has stripped down Android to make it a viable proposition for its government and military.
Last week at IFA, Russia's deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin was shown a prototype device that is expected to go on sale to the public for around $460. Russia's Central Scientific Research Institute, which developed the operating system and designed the device, said the Russian military and government officials are the main customers.
Russian media reported that Andrei Starikovsky, the production unit director, told Rogozin at the presentation that the military version of the device will be shockproof and waterproof. He said, "The operating system has all the functional capabilities of an Android operating system but none of its hidden features that send users' private data to Google headquarters."
According to Dmitry Mikhailov, the operating system's project manager, Russia isn't necessarily afraid of Google or the US government stealing data but of leaks. Mikhailov told AFP, "There is nothing like this operating system on the market. It is hack-proof. There are people who are clamouring for this."
Russia's custom Android operating system is not surprising but it is the type of product that could also interest people outside of Russia. While Google doesn't make any significant revenue directly from Android, the data it has access to makes the millions that it shovels into Android development a worthwhile investment. µ
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