SECURITY-MINDED PHONE MAKER Blackphone has announced the launch of PrivatOS1.1, an updated version of its custom Android software that brings with it a dedicated app store for the privacy-aware.
Given the smartphone's hard-line approach to security, Blackphone currently ships without a default app store onboard. That will change in January with the launch of PrivatOS 1.1, which will bring the Blackphone app store.
Speaking to The INQUIRER, Blackphone CEO Toby Weir-Jones said that, unlike other third-party app stores, this one is all about keeping user data secure, and looks to encourage developers to do so.
"We're not trying to be another untrusted, third-party app store - there's lots of those out there already," he said.
"We're looking to provide a selective and curated assortment of privacy-focused apps. That doesn't just include password management and email encryption apps. It's those that handle user details appropriately.
"We wanted to set up an environment in which developers are encouraged to store details in a safe way, and to encourage authenticity. We want to reward developers for being secure."
The Blackphone app store will initially offer only free apps, although Blackphone told us that paid-for apps, along with in-app purchases, will be offered in the future - assuming they pass Blackphone's vetting process.
"We look at an app's permissions. If an email encryption app, for example, wants access to your camera and microphone, it's probably not right for the Blackphone app store," Weir-Jones said.
"As public conversation about privacy expands, we want developers to recognise that security is a good thing to invest in."
The Blackphone app store, which Weir-Jones said will be available for existing Blackphone users in January 2015 before launching on new hardware from the firm later in the year, will also be available to those using other Android devices.
PrivatOS1.1 also introduces a feature called Spaces, which promises better security and usability than Samsung Knox and BlackBerry Balance, for example.
Weir said: "Spaces is an attempt to solve the two phone problem. The solutions out there currently are not good enough.
"Current approaches are limited and have a very specific list of features. That's OK, but Spaces is kernel-level virtualisation, so you can have a much more comprehensive separation between work and other features which typically leave footprints in smartphone wilderness."
A 'Silent Space' will be featured by default, including Silent Suite, Blackphone app store and a bundle of pre-loaded privacy apps. µ
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