OmniRom is Working on a 'Google-Free' Dialer with Integrated Phone Directory

Ask any Android fan out there what according to them is the best feature of the Android ecosystem and at the very least 8 out of 10 people will tell you that it is the Open Source nature of the platform. Being an open-source platform, Android enjoys support from the extremely talented developer community who slog away to better the features and performance of Google's vanilla version of Android.

It is no wonder then that after-market custom ROM maker - OmniRom - has cited on their website that they're working on a dialer app which would exclude Google from the integrated phone directory. When Google had rolled out the latest iteration of their Android ecosystem - namely Android 4.4 KitKat, many subtle and some not-so subtle features and changes had come along with it. One such change was to the phone dialer app which had predominantly remained unchanged since its rewriting in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

The KitKat dialer brought with it a cool feature of Caller IDs, wherein Google+ IDs got linked to your contacts' phone numbers and you could see the ID once you made a call to the contact; and an integrated Phone Directory - which showed you results from local business listings when you typed out a name directly in the dialer app itself. However the KitKat dialer is definitely not open-sourced and its' open source sibling - the AOSP dialer - has been left out in the rain.

Some users are fine with Google's proprietary code in the dialer app; however there are users who are more conscious of their privacy and have concerns with Google servers being called in for every phone number they call on their Android phones. To address this concern, the fantastic guys at OmniRom have based their dialer app directly on the open-source AOSP dialer and have integrated a phone directory into the same, as evidenced by the lone screenshot they have revealed.

The OmniRom guys state that "this (currently in development) feature allows you to directly search for a nearby place's phone number simply by typing keywords or a place's name into your Dialer search bar. A second later results appear, and you can just tap on them to dial the number."

The feature depends on OpenStreetMap (OSM) which is a free and open mapping service. This implies that whatever you search for on the OSM dependent dialer bypasses Google's services, also the OmniRom dialer is designed to not let your exact position be known to OSM. Instead, broad-based location information is shared with the OSM servers for getting you the localized listings.

For now the feature is under development and we hope to see it in action on the latest OmniRom releases. Till then, we will make do with our KitKat dialer. Do you fear for your privacy on the KitKat dialer? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the Author
My involvement with Android - as a fan and user - started in 2009-10 when I had dual-booted Android 2.2 Froyo on my SE Xperia X1. I have been following the rapid (and much deserved) rise of Android since then and have been rooting and flashing every android phone I could get my hands on. A self-proclaimed tech expert, in my free time I catch up on my reading and play with my one-year-old daughter.
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