When the security-focused Blackphone started shipping in June the phone came with a lot of limitations. Nowhere was that more apparent than with third-party apps, which could end up crashing due to a user’s privacy preferences. Blackphone, the company, will look to improve that situation in January when the company rolls out a brand new app store to its users.
This new Blackphone app store isn’t a Google Play imitator, however. Instead, Blackphone will stay true to its mission and offer privacy-focused apps exclusively.
Why this matters: Even when privacy and security are your primary focus, a smartphone just isn’t a smartphone without a third-party ecosystem. Whether it’s someone who just wants a simple game to pass a few quiet moments on the train or robust apps for keeping lists or editing documents, stock apps just can’t meet all these needs.
Users can sideload apps onto their Blackphone devices, but sideloaded apps can stall or crash when PrivatOS denies them information they need to function such as location data or access to other personal information. A store with approved or recommended apps would help remove all the fuss users have to undertake to control an app’s access to user data.
Blackphone says its app store will be curated to only allow “the most secure, privacy-optimized apps on the market.” The company isn’t discussing what apps we might see or if it is working with any top third-party app makers to adjust their apps to meet Blackphone’s privacy requirements.
The company wants the apps it offers to be focused on security and privacy, meaning that mainstream developers would have to seriously rethink their app designs if they wanted in.
There’s also a good chance some apps would charge money since free apps that rely on advertising would be out—ad companies rely on location and usage tracking to deliver ads.
Beyond the app store, Blackphone says it will also roll out a new feature in early 2015 called ‘Spaces’ as part of its PrivatOS 1.1 update. Spaces will allow users to create separate profiles on the same device allowing users to separate work and personal data or create a controlled space for children to use, similar to Samsung's Knox and Windows Phone's Kid Corner, respectively.
By default, Blackphone will ship with what it calls a “Silent Space” that includes the Silent Suite of apps for encrypted communications, the new app store, and several pre-loaded privacy apps.