[APP][5.0+] FairEmail - Fully featured, open source, privacy oriented email app

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M66B

Recognized Developer
Aug 1, 2010
26,262
56,684
Since my girlfriend is currently pretty sick, my first priority is taking care of her. So, don't expect much from me for the time being.

I will probably release a new version in the Play store by the end of the week though.
 

M66B

Recognized Developer
Aug 1, 2010
26,262
56,684
According to Google FairEmail is spyware because it uploads the contact list. My guess is this is because of the usage of favicons, which will use the domain name of email addresses to fetch info. This feature has been removed from the Play store version now.

Google has been violating EU regulation 2019/1150 on multiple occasions now by not being transparent about what exactly the problem is, but what can I do? Complain via the EU, wait five years for action while the app is being removed from the Play store?
 

M66B

Recognized Developer
Aug 1, 2010
26,262
56,684
I have submitted a new version to Google, with the favicons and domain block lists removed.

This might come as a shock, but if I can't resolve this with Google, it will be the end of the project. I have tried to communicate several times with Google, but they don't provide any details about what the app presumably is doing wrong.

The app most certainly doesn't upload any contact info, unless maybe your email address to login to the email server.

If the app can't be in the Play store anymore, there is no point in continuing supporting this app because about 99% of the users download the app from the Play store.
 

nadir husain

Senior Member
Aug 31, 2019
324
382
I have submitted a new version to Google, with the favicons and domain block lists removed.

This might come as a shock, but if I can't resolve this with Google, it will be the end of the project. I have tried to communicate several times with Google, but they don't provide any details about what the app presumably is doing wrong.

The app most certainly doesn't upload any contact info, unless maybe your email address to login to the email server.

If the app can't be in the Play store anymore, there is no point in continuing supporting this app because about 99% of the users download the app from the Play store.
Don't say that Marcel,!😭
 

M66B

Recognized Developer
Aug 1, 2010
26,262
56,684
Please keep us posted Marcel. I really don't want to start hunting for email apps again. And there is none as good as FE
I will, but this feel pretty hopelessly.

This happened before and there is just no discussion with Google possible. If they keep rejecting updates and I can't figure out why, it will be the end.
 
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M66B

Recognized Developer
Aug 1, 2010
26,262
56,684
The balance

The few euros I receive in return for what's being offered and the fun of developing things are no compensation for the thousands of questions I answer every month, for unfair Play store reviews and for stress about unclear Google requirements.


The verdict

I have not reached a conclusion yet, but the question I am asking myself is why I would continue with the project. Maybe it is the moment, with a sick girlfriend, but I currently don't see it.


Alternatives

GitHub only version: 98% of the audience will be lost.

Strip down the app: more bad reviews

Paid support: more bad reviews

Stop answering questions: more bad reviews

Bad reviews will shift the balance only in the wrong direction.


Core problem

Google. There is no sensible way to appeal in case of bad reviews or alleged violations of Play store policies.

People. They are generally pretty demanding and on the other hand everything should be free.

Myself. An old and grumpy developer, who maybe should retired.


Input is welcome.
 

Oswald Boelcke

Senior Moderator / Moderator & RC-RT Committees
Staff member
According to Google FairEmail is spyware because it uploads the contact list. My guess is this is because of the usage of favicons, which will use the domain name of email addresses to fetch info. This feature has been removed from the Play store version now.

Google has been violating EU regulation 2019/1150 on multiple occasions now by not being transparent about what exactly the problem is, but what can I do? Complain via the EU, wait five years for action while the app is being removed from the Play store?
I have submitted a new version to Google, with the favicons and domain block lists removed.

This might come as a shock, but if I can't resolve this with Google, it will be the end of the project. I have tried to communicate several times with Google, but they don't provide any details about what the app presumably is doing wrong.

The app most certainly doesn't upload any contact info, unless maybe your email address to login to the email server.

If the app can't be in the Play store anymore, there is no point in continuing supporting this app because about 99% of the users download the app from the Play store.
I don't want to comment on Google and its business schemes; I've my own opinion and therefore I refrain from using anything by them. But I think you should complain with the EU. Google is already in their focus and I'm convinced they collect anything they can get.

By the way, the following link was posted by @Sid32 here in @HootanParsa's MiXplorer thread:
All apk install functions will soon be removed
Could this also affect the FE PlayStore version? I quite often update your FE, the very best email app on the market, when it notifies me. And then I obviously download it from Github, don't I. Looks like Google doesn't like that.

Androidpolice also reported that yesterday:
 

M66B

Recognized Developer
Aug 1, 2010
26,262
56,684
I don't want to comment on Google and its business schemes; I've my own opinion and therefore I refrain from using anything by them. But I think you should complain with the EU. Google is already in their focus and I'm convinced they collect anything they can get.

By the way, the following link was posted by @Sid32 here in @HootanParsa's MiXplorer thread:
All apk install functions will soon be removed
Could this also affect the FE PlayStore version? I quite often update your FE, the very best email app on the market, when it notifies me. And then I obviously download it from Github, don't I. Looks like Google doesn't like that.

Androidpolice also reported that yesterday:
It takes years until the EU does something, so complaining doesn't help me with practical problems today.

The app didn't update itself from the beginning because this Google policy was waiting to be enforced. So, this shouldn't (you'll never know with Google) a problem in the case of FairEmail.

Thanks for the suggestions.
 

mkasimd

Senior Member
Apr 7, 2021
212
424
Düsseldorf
It takes years until the EU does something, so complaining doesn't help me with practical problems today.

The app didn't update itself from the beginning because this Google policy was waiting to be enforced. So, this shouldn't (you'll never know with Google) a problem in the case of FairEmail.

Thanks for the suggestions.
Bureaucratic processes always take time. But if you want to escalate things, I recommend to get in touch with eff.org. Even if they mainly operate in the Americas, they might be interested in a legal action against Google's intransparent policies as well.

There are no ad-hoc solutions for this. But sometimes (though rarely), taking action helps quicker than one believes. It might be worth to give a shot.

Also, if personal support takes a huge toll on you link everyone to this thread and make this a user-forum where you occasionally put input while other users too can explain things. Ratings go down the drain? Let it be, Marcel. Ratings are not as important as your own (mental) health.
 

nadir husain

Senior Member
Aug 31, 2019
324
382
Bureaucratic processes always take time. But if you want to escalate things, I recommend to get in touch with eff.org. Even if they mainly operate in the Americas, they might be interested in a legal action against Google's intransparent policies as well.

There are no ad-hoc solutions for this. But sometimes (though rarely), taking action helps quicker than one believes. It might be worth to give a shot.

Also, if personal support takes a huge toll on you link everyone to this thread and make this a user-forum where you occasionally put input while other users too can explain things. Ratings go down the drain? Let it be, Marcel. Ratings are not as important as your own (mental) health.
I agree with the above response.
Also seriously seriously very seriously if you are not happy with what is happening with your app or how you are being treated you should consider selling this app to someone who can maintain it. There is nothing really that is more important than you or your family's health
 
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M66B

Recognized Developer
Aug 1, 2010
26,262
56,684
I am pretty unhappy about the situation and I am considering to pull all my apps from the Play store, close all related XDA threads and going back to anonymity.

The apps won't be sold in any case because in almost all cases this will not beneficial for the users of the app. There are plenty of examples of this.
 
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30jp

Member
Sep 25, 2020
43
99
Hi Marcel,
If I were you I would stop using Google Playstore.
That is 98% of the buyers and I think most of the complainers.
Keep it with Github and F-Droid as it is now, a free and a paid version.
Only update important and necessary things once every 3 months.
So no other colours, fonts or handy buttons.
Also write that clearly here on XDA and Github and don't reply to every post here either.
Keep it to once every 3 months.
Let it go.
FairEmail is and will remain the best email app out there.
I think that gives you the most peace of mind and gives you more energy to support your girlfriend and possibly do other things later.
Give it a year and stick to those rules and then evaluate after 1 year how it went and what it brought you.
The same goes for Netguard.

Sincerely jp30
 

M66B

Recognized Developer
Aug 1, 2010
26,262
56,684
Hi Marcel,
If I were you I would stop using Google Playstore.
That is 98% of the buyers and I think most of the complainers.
Keep it with Github and F-Droid as it is now, a free and a paid version.
Only update important and necessary things once every 3 months.
So no other colours, fonts or handy buttons.
Also write that clearly here on XDA and Github and don't reply to every post here either.
Keep it to once every 3 months.
Let it go.
FairEmail is and will remain the best email app out there.
I think that gives you the most peace of mind and gives you more energy to support your girlfriend and possibly do other things later.
Give it a year and stick to those rules and then evaluate after 1 year how it went and what it brought you.
The same goes for Netguard.

Sincerely jp30
I won't be coming back, sorry.
 

Top Liked Posts

  • 1
    And again there was a one star (German) review because not everything was completely free, dragging again the average rating down, which has been going monotonously down only last weeks :-(
    Honestly, I just don't understand this free mentality. Anyone who thinks about it logically has to be aware that the software developer also has to make a living.

    Let's take Windows backup software, for example. I would never think of using free software here. In case of a problem I have to be sure to get professional help. I can't necessarily expect that with free software (Not all developers are as committed as you, Marcel).
  • 20
    QUESTION ABOUT FAIR EMAIL OPTIONS:
    Assuming the starting point of no on-device Google Account...

    Q: Which of these Fair Email Google mail server options is "most" private?

    1. 2SV/2FA (using any of a half dozen secondary methods), or,
    2. What Fair Email terms "GMail (Android)", or,
    3. What Fair Email terms "GMail (OAuth)".

    Note Marcel knows the answer, so he can instantly nip this tangent in the bud by answering that question in a single word... (where I suspect the answer is undoubtably #3 but others strongly think it's #1 apparently, so I could be wrong - but it's NEVER gonna be #2.

    The desired single word answer is "none". Google scans all your messages and you can only hope that the gathered information isn't used in an un-private way. Option 1 (assumed to be app passwords) and option 3 do not send extra information to Google. Option 2 requires an on-device Google account. You can control the sync options of a Google account via the Android settings. If these options work as expected and are turned off, no information should be sent to Google. This applies to all other Google services and apps, like Maps and Drive, too. You'll need to go into the settings and turn things off and trust that Google honors this.

    I expect to see no more messages about this subject anymore, with no exceptions for anyone. If you want to continue discussing about this, you should create a new XDA thread for this.
    19
    I have just uploaded a 4th YouTube video, with things which are not being described and not were asked for before ...
    Yesterday, the OAuth verification team requested a minor change and a test APK file, which probably means that the app fulfills all requirements now and that the verification process transitioned to the next phase. In any case this is looking good so far.
    17
    Since I need a distraction anyway, I am trying to get a web OAuth flow for Gmail accounts approved by Google because it seems the policies were changed for this type of authentication. K9 mail was approved too, without the expensive security audit formerly required. This would allow authenticating Gmail accounts via OAuth without an on-device account.
    16
    The next version will have optionally VirusTotal integration, so you can check attachments easily:

    Screenshot_20220723-102554.png
    13
    Using a Gmail account in FairEmail will inevitably leak your IP address, and thus your rough location, but nothing else, except the obvious: the messages you receive and sent and their meta data (sender, receiver, subject, etc).

    Note that it is not a good idea to use a VPN to hide your IP address because you'll probably run into "Please log in via your web browser" at an inconvenient moment.

    For HOTP and TOTP I recommend FreeOTP+.

    I think enough has been said about the privacy aspects of a Google account now. Whether a Google account on your device is a privacy concern or not is off-topic here. If you want to keep discussing about this, please create another XDA thread for this. You can leave a link to the created thread here if you wish.
  • 241
    ic_launcher.png

    FairEmail
    Open source, privacy friendly email app for Android

    banner7_long.png


    See here for a description:
    https://github.com/M66B/open-source-email/

    See here for screenshots:
    https://email.faircode.eu/#screenshots

    Downloads:
    https://github.com/M66B/open-source-email#user-content-downloads

    Frequently asked questions:
    https://github.com/M66B/open-source-email/blob/master/FAQ.md

    Please read this before requesting a new feature:
    https://github.com/M66B/FairEmail/blob/master/FAQ.md#user-content-get-support

    This XDA thread is about using the latest version of FairEmail.

    For support on authorizing an account you should consult the documentation of your provider, see also here.

    Off topic comments are allowed as long they are related to FairEmail and are in the general interest of the followers of this thread.

    Discussion of purchases is not allowed here, please contact me via here instead.
    69
    How was the call with Google today, Marcel?

    Google was pretty friendly and cooperative and told me the favicons are indeed the problem, and it can/should be fixed by updating in the privacy policy to "disclose how your app accesses, collects, uses, and shares user data":

    Privacy Policy​

    All apps must post a privacy policy in both the designated field in Play Console and within the app itself. The privacy policy must, together with any in-app disclosures, comprehensively disclose how your app accesses, collects, uses, and shares user data, not limited by the data disclosed in the Data Safety section. This must include:
    • developer information and a privacy point of contact or a mechanism to submit inquiries
    • disclosing the types of personal and sensitive user data your app accesses, collects, uses, and shares; and any parties with which any personal or sensitive user data is shared
    • secure data handling procedures for personal and sensitive user data
    • the developer’s data retention and deletion policy
    • clear labeling as a privacy policy (e.g., listed as “privacy policy” in title)
    The entity (e.g., developer, company) named in the app’s Google Play listing must appear in the privacy policy or the app must be named in the privacy policy. Apps that do not access any personal and sensitive user data must still submit a privacy policy.

    Please make sure your privacy policy is available on an active URL (no PDFs) and is non-editable.

    So, I have updated the privacy policy and added this new table:

    https://github.com/M66B/FairEmail/blob/master/PRIVACY.md#summary-of-shared-data

    I am not sure if it covers everything, so feedback is more than welcome. @mkasimd maybe you can take a look?

    Note that I have also enabled BIMI, Gravatars, Libravatars and favicons for the Play store version again.

    The short term goal is to release a Play store test version (and associated GitHub version) and to get the update approved. I will think about the next steps after this has been accomplished. Given the huge number of supportive messages I received (much appreciated!) the project will be continued in some form in any case.
    50
    Version 1.1900 is available on GitHub now and in the Play store test program after Google's approval (which is the main goal of this release).

    Changelog/download:
    https://github.com/M66B/FairEmail/releases

    My girlfriend is slowly recovering too :)
    47
    It is time for a new, modern, open source, privacy friendly email client for Android.

    I have just released a first alpha version for feedback on the design and features.

    Not for production use yet!

    Most of the stuff basically works, but be prepared for crashes and error notifications.


    Safe email is a working name, but it is for several reasons not a convenient name, so suggestions for a name are welcome.
    37
    I have just released alpha version 0.15

    Changelog/download:
    https://github.com/M66B/open-source-email/releases

    With a bit of luck the next version can be a beta version.

    I am putting a lot of effort into this project, so thanks are appreciated.