GrapheneOS: Android to IPhone and Back Again

More than a decade ago I jumped on the Android wagon with an Acer Liquid before following the Nexus line from One-6P. By 2015 I became really frustrated with Google and their privacy incursions. This lined up perfectly as Apple was being very obtuse with the US Government requests to access an iPhone belonging to a shooter in San Bernardino. I figured any company willing to take that stand was a company I was willing to pour my wallet into. That began an all consuming slippery slope erasing 20+ years of PC hardware and the adoption of many iPhones, MacBook Pro’s, and iPads, literally tens of thousands of dollars. I loved Apple.

Apple has changed quite a bit since those days, presumably creating concessions on the privacy front while still profiting from the good will earned from their 2015 stance. I noticed in 2018/2019 when the US Government was applying a lot of pressure for big tech to “backdoor encryption or else”. These transgressions have continued since then and have completely alienated me.

A list of things that irk me:

Expanding on each briefly:

  • Filevault keys were updated and storing them on iCloud was selected by default. Sorry, Apple, don’t take liberties with my encryption. This caused me to sell one of my macbook pros and relegate the other to a large capacity phone charger.
  • The Zoom update, however well intentioned, demonstrates that Apple can and will do what they want on a machine you purchase and own. Out of principle, this is not something I can be okay with.
  • I picked up a new iPhone 12 which forced me to provide my MacBook Pro account password. Not my icloud password, the password I use to login to my local machine. Who’s machine is this anyway?
  • CSAM scanning is all the rage right now. These are anti features designed for moral compliance and are huge incursions on your privacy. On the surface no one would object to this, but if you dig deeper ask yourself this: Would you be okay with warrant-less searches of your home “in case” you have contraband? Annually? Monthly? Weekly? Daily? If you’re not okay with random searches of your home, you value privacy. Why are you okay with random searches of your digital life?

A quote with a little creative liberty (I think the original is from Anon): It's not that I have anything to hide, it's that I have nothing I want to share.

All of this culminates in my decision to leave apple for good.

I’ve picked up a Pixel 5 and will be documenting my journey as I transition from iPhone to GrapheneOS.

Illustration of Vince

Vince Hillier is the President and Founder of Revenni Inc. He is an opensource advocate specializing in system engineering and infrastructure. Outside of building solid infrastructure that doesn't break the bank, he's interested in information security, privacy, and performance.