Regular Android devices when up-to-date with the latest security patches are quite secure to a certain degree. However when it comes to privacy it's definitely not great. A lot can be configured to be more robust and less permissive though the granularity is very limited. When it comes to Google apps/services however there's simply no way to truly opt-out of many of the background tracking behavior. This is because Google Play Services runs as a system app on these devices, giving it access to a wide range of sensitive data and system resources.

Google Play Services is a set of services and APIs provided by Google that allows apps to access Google-specific features such as location services, Google Maps, and Google Play Store. However, these services also collect and share data with Google and third-party apps without the user's knowledge or consent. This can include location data, search queries, and browsing history, among other types of data.

Additionally, regular Android devices may be vulnerable to security risks such as malware and other types of malicious software. These risks may be caused by vulnerabilities in the operating system, or by apps that are downloaded from the Google Play Store or other sources.

GrapheneOS to save the day!

GrapheneOS is an open-source, privacy and security-focused operating system for smartphones, specifically designed for the Google Pixel line of devices which means that it takes full advantage of the device's hardware and software features. This allows for a smooth and seamless user experience, while still providing the highest level of security and privacy.

One of the key features of GrapheneOS is its focus on security. It includes a number of security enhancements such as verified boot, which ensures that the device has not been tampered with, and sandboxing of apps to prevent them from accessing sensitive data. Additionally, GrapheneOS includes a number of privacy-enhancing features such as the ability to use the Tor network for anonymous browsing and the use of end-to-end encryption for messaging and calls.

Another important aspect of GrapheneOS is its commitment to user privacy. It does not include any pre-installed apps or services that track user data, and it does not collect or share any data with third parties. This makes it an ideal choice for users who value their privacy and want to avoid having their data collected and shared without their knowledge or consent.

Can I still choose to run Google Play Services?

Absolutely! GrapheneOS allows users the option to run sandboxed versions of Google Play Services if they choose to do so. This means that users can still access the apps and services provided by Google Play Store, while still maintaining a high level of security and privacy.

Sandboxing is a security technique that isolates apps from each other and from the underlying operating system, preventing them from accessing sensitive data or performing harmful actions. By running Google Play Services in a sandboxed environment, users can still use their favorite apps while keeping their data and device secure.

It's important to note that running sandboxed Google Play Services may not provide the same level of privacy as not running it, as Google Play Services may still collect and share data with Google or third-party apps. However, running it in a sandboxed environment does provide an extra layer of security, as it limits the potential attack surface for malicious apps.

You can enable the sandboxed version of Google Play Services by following the instructions provided on the official GrapheneOS website. The process is quite simple and can be done by anyone with basic technical knowledge.

It's important to remember that installing Google Play Services and using apps from the Play Store may decrease the security and privacy of your device, but it's up to you to decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks and to weigh your own threat model.

If you are looking for a secure and private mobile experience, GrapheneOS is an excellent choice for you.

You can learn more about GrapheneOS and download it for your Pixel device at the official website.