Firstly with Panda, you do not have the option to uninstall it the easy way, so a noob is forced to have it there.
If you try to forcibly stop Panda in the app manager, it will restart itself automatically.
Further more - Panda have the perrmissions to
- directly call phone numbers
read phone status and identity
- read your text messages (SMS or MMS)
send MMS messages
- take pictures and photos
- record audio
- approximate location (network-based)
precise location (GPS and network-based)
- modify your contacts
read your contacts
- read your own contact card
- modify or delete the contents of your SD card
- disable your screen lock
- set an alarm
- read Google service configuration
use accounts on the device
view configured accounts
- read terms you added to the dictionary
- change system display settings
modify secure system settings
retrieve system internal status
- change network connectivity
change WiMaX state
connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi
connect and disconnect from WiMaX
control Near-Field Communication
full network access
view network connections
view Wi-Fi connections
- access Bluetooth settings
pair with Bluetooth devices
- re-order running apps
retrieve running apps
run at startup
- draw over other apps
- control vibration
prevent phone from sleeping
- add words to user-defined dictionary
- change your audio settings
. read sync settings
read sync statistics
toggle sync on and off
- expand / collaps status bar
- modify system settings
read battery statistics
read Home settings and shortcuts
test access and protected storage
write Home settings and shortcuts
- full permissions to all device features and storage
- Set global theme
..meaning I guess that this Panda app has full administrator/root permissions.. - ..but why?
Why does a seemingly useless application like Panda have root permissions, which in turn also makes it fairly difficult to remove? What is the application Panda´s true purpose? Why is it there in the first place? What does it do, exactly?
My concerns with these alternative smartphone operating systems is that there might be an Ubuntu/Debian scenario, where Debian is a nice clean OS giving you the very basics and letting you choose whatever extra you want from there, whereas Ubuntu comes with a lot of extra stuff that you do not really need and / or should be given the ability to choose if you wanted to install or not, upon install.
So, I guess my question to the experienced, security- and privacy-oriented smartphone-OS user is:
What is the best alternative smartphone OS that gives you a simple OS without anything extra such as that suspicious Panda app?
In other words, which smartphone alternative out there today can be trusted the most to respect my privacy? I would of course look into Firefox OS if it was available.
Am I being overly paranoid about AOKP? Should I just keep that, or perhaps Cyanogenmod is the way to go? Or perhaps I am missing an even better solution?