PrivatOS evolves

Blackphone to get privacy app store and self-contained ‘spaces’

The anti-surveillance Blackphone handset is about to get what its makers are billing as the world’s first privacy-focused app store, along with the ability to run separate virtualized spaces for private and not-as-private accounts and applications.

The Blackphone, which started shipping in June, runs an Android fork called PrivatOS and comes bundled with a bunch of privacy-focused apps, such as the encrypted storage service SpiderOak and the anti-tracking service Disconnect. On Tuesday, the Swiss-based firm announced a new version of PrivatOS that will ship early next year.

The Blackphone app store will roll out in January, carrying apps that are curated by the Blackphone team. Meanwhile, the new version of PrivatOS will also come with a feature called “Spaces,” which allows users to create separate self-contained spaces for different levels of privacy and security.

Users can create separate virtualized spaces for parent-friendly and kid-friendly applications, or for work and personal use, or any other self-contained group of apps, accounts and data. The feature is an adaptation of Graphite Software’s Secure Spaces technology, and the preloaded default space will be the privacy-centric “Silent Space,” featuring encrypted communications tools and so on.

“The addition of Spaces and the Blackphone app store is the most significant update to PrivatOS since its inception,” Blackphone CEO Toby Weir-Jones said in a statement. “We are delighted to have developed the Silent Space, alongside Graphite Software, who share our core values of privacy and security.”