If you ever feel confused, come to this page and use the search function (CTRL+F) to find answers.
- SIM Card
A small chip that holds and sends authentication details (IMSI) to the mobile cell network, enabling phone calls, SMS (text messages) and MMS. Additionally SIM cards can also give access to the internet via mobile data / broadband. SIM stands for Subscriber Identity Module Card.
An abbreviation for Short Messaging Service, and refers to text messages that are sent from one phone number to another over the cellular network. Like phone calls, these messages cannot be considered private, as the information in cellular networks can be seen by to providers and government agencies.
An abbreviation for Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS). It refers to messages containing multimedia content (images, videos or audios) that are sent from one phone number to another over the cellular network. Users and providers may refer to this type of message as a PXT, a picture message, or a multimedia message. The MMS standard extends the core SMS capability, allowing for the exchange of text messages greater than 160 characters in length.
- Internet / Virtual Phone Number
A phone number that is not tied to a physical SIM card, but can be used to make / receive calls and texts over the internet using VoIP (voice over internet protocol). This also allows the same number to be used on multiple devices, including computers. Essentially virtual / internet phone numbers, can be used via WiFi or ethernet cables (with adapters for phones). It can also be used via mobile data - in that case the cellular network is only used to get access to internet, rather than for the phone calls directly - effectively circumventing SIM card tracking and surveilance.
Note: We recommend to use JMP for virtual phone numbers through XMPP.
The Above SIM offers mobile data and is intended to be used with virtual phone numbers.
A local wireless networking protocol commonly used for local area networking (LAN) of devices and for internet access. It is a based on the IEEE 802.11 standards and allows nearby digital devices to exchange data by means of radio waves.
A communications technology that uses wires and cables to connect devices in a local area network (LAN). In comparison to WiFi, Ethernet has the advantages of mitigating EMF (electromagnetic frequency) radiation and offering high data transfer speeds.
- Mobile Data / broadband
Wireless internet via mobile networks. This connectivity can be achieved with a SIM card, or with a portable modem. Mobile data is also know as broadband. The technology has evolved through several generations, starting from 2G, to 3G (GSM), 4G (LTE) and nowadays towards 5G. To learn more about these generations, please consult the telecommunications sections.
An abbreviation for Virtual Private Network. A VPN is a a mechanism that allows users to send and receive data as if the public networks' devices were directly connected to the private network - in other words, the VPN server practically acts as a middle man and protects the IP address from the end user. The benefits of using a VPNs can include increasing security and privacy, bypassing internet censorship. and reducing costs for dedicated communication lines, Encryption is also a common part of a VPN connection.
- Open-Source Software
Software that lets users see and study the software code and that way get a full picture of what the software is capable of doing and where the data is being sent.
- Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS)
Software that respects users' freedom. In general terms FOSS means that the users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software.
- End-To-End Encryption
A mechanism for making transferred data unreadable, effectively allowing two or more parties to communicate privately. The encryption is often based on unique device fingerprints (identifiers), that are stored only locally, exchanged securely by the devices, and required, ultimately, to make the data readable again in its original form
- User Profiles
A built-in feature of Android systems that makes it possible for several users to use the same device, each in their own way. These separate user environments are completely isolated from one another. Here you can install and control apps you don't (fully) trust, and give them critical permissions without compromising any of your data in your main user profile. You can also install sandboxed Google Play Services in there to be able to use apps that rely on them.
Check out our guide on user profiles.
- Work Profiles
A built-in feature of Android system that lets you set up a completely isolated workspace within a user profile (in contrast to user profiles, where you'd create another user workspace), Here you can install and control apps you don't (fully) trust, and if need be, you can deactivate them quickly and easily. You can do all this without having to switch back and forth between completely different environments, as would be the case if you were using multiple user profiles.
To make work profiles easy to manage, we recommend the use of the Shelter app.
Check out our guide on work profiles.
- Aurora Store
An app that allows you to access the Google Play Store anonymously, without having to log in to a personal Google account. However, you may choose to login with a Google account to install paid apps you've already bought. In that case, the apps you'll be able to download may not be respectful of your privacy, so you may want to consider carefully what you install.
Also, please be aware that a lot of applications may or may not work depending on the extent of their reliance on Google Play Services. Most applications in Aurora Store will work on CalyxOS with MicroG. For GrapheneOS you might need to have the sandboxed Google Play Services and/or Framework installed (availabe in the GrapheneOS built-in 'Apps' app).
F-Droid is an installable catalogue of FOSS (free and open-source software) applications for Android phones. The F-Droid client makes it easy for you to browse, install, and keep track of updates on your device. Apps on the official repository are vetted by the F-Droid team to ensure that they're fully open-source & void of proprietary components. Some applications may contain "Anti-Features" and F-Droid will alert you of these. Because of these privacy- and security-enhancing benefitsthis, we think F-Droid should generally be the first choice when searching for applications!
Settings that dictate your apps' access to the phone's sensors, such the GPS module, microphone and camera, as well as to data partitions, like calls, contacts, calendar, media, etc.
You can adjust these in Settings > Permissions, or by going to the 'App info' section of the specific app (tap and hold on any app icon for one second).
- 2FA - Two-Factor Authentication / Two-step verification
A security process commonly used by websites and platforms you log into. The sites improve their security, by obtaining confirmation of your identity from a second source (the second factor). Common 2FA methods include getting a code by email, SMS, or TOTP.
An abbreviation for Time-based one-time password. TOTP is a computer algorithm that generates a one-time password (OTP) using the current time as a source of uniqueness. Aegis does this while staying completely offline, ensuring a high level of privacy and security.
- Cell Network
A cell network, also known as a cellular network, is a type of communication system that allows people to connect with each other using mobile devices such as cell phones.
When you use your cell phone to make a call, send a text message, or access the internet, your device communicates with the nearest cell tower. The cell tower then routes your communication until it reaches its destination.
Cell networks use radio frequencies to transmit and receive information, and they are constantly evolving to provide faster and more reliable service. Many cell networks now support 5G technology, which provides even faster data speeds and lower latency for a better overall user experience.
MVNO stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator. An MVNO is a company that doesn't own its own wireless network infrastructure, but instead leases network capacity from an MNO like Verizon, ATT, or Tmobile. MVNOs then resell this capacity to their own customers under their own brand name. They are responsible for marketing and selling their services, setting their own prices, and providing customer support.
- 4G (LTE)
4G stands for Fourth Generation, and it is the fourth major iteration of wireless cellular technology. 4G technology provides faster and more reliable wireless communication compared to earlier generations of cellular technology.
4G/LTE is a cellular service that allows users to connect to the internet at high speeds, making it possible to quickly download large files and enjoy uninterrupted streaming of high-definition video.
5G stands for Fifth Generation, and it is the latest iteration of wireless cellular technology. 5G technology provides faster and more reliable wireless communication compared to 4G technology. 5G includes Sub-6 5G & mmWave 5G.
- Sub-6 5G
Sub-6 5G is very similar to 4G/LTE & provides performance improvements such as slightly faster download speeds, faster response time (latency), and improved reliability.
- mmWave 5G
Compared to 4G and Sub-6 5G, mmWave 5G offers significantly faster download speeds, but it has limited range and requires that you're in direct line of site with the mmWave tower/transmitter as the signal is easily obstructed by walls or buildings. In the real world, mmWave 5g is not very useful nor available and there are concern regarding potential health risks associated with its use.
- Google Play Services
Refers to a proprietary (= not open-source) software package produced by Google for Android devices. It consists of background services and libraries for use by mobile apps running on the device. On regular Android systems these components are integrated on the system level and generally have access on data parts of the phone.
On GrapheneOS these components can optionally be installed on a user level, which means the components are unprivileged and don't have access to data partitions by default.
Here is our guide on sandboxed Google Play Services.
- Google Play
Above Privacy Suite
Stands for Internet Message Access Protocol and refers to a standard Email protocol used by email clients to retrieve / fetch Email messages from a mail server using a TCP/IP connection. The purpose of IMAP is to allow complete management of an Email inbox by multiple email clients / apps.
Most modern e-mail clients and servers support IMAP, which along with the earlier POP3 (Post Office Protocol) are the two most prevalent standard protocols for email retrieval. Some mail services that use their own encryption mechanism don't offer IMAP for that same reason. Examples are Protonmail and Tutanota. These
An IMAP server typically listens on port number: 143
IMAP over SSL/TLS (IMAPS) is assigned the port number 993.
Stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol and refers to a standard Email protocol used for Email sending / transmission. Mail servers and other message transfer agents use SMTP to send and receive mail messages. User-level email clients typically use SMTP only for sending messages to a mail server for relaying.
Typically mail server listed on port 587 or 465 per
XMPP & Virtual Phone Number
- XMPP / Jabber
Stands for Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol and refers to an open communication protocol designed for instant messaging, voice & video calls, file transfer, all of which can be fully End-to-End encrypted. Unlike most commercial instant messaging protocols, XMPP. The architecture of the XMPP network is similar to Email in the way that anyone can run their own XMPP server and there is no central master server (=decentralized). XMPP users can interoperate with others on any server using a 'JID' (Jabber ID) user account, similar to an email address, and have End-to-End encryption for the messages and data.
To learn more, please read our articles on takebackourtech:
- XMPP Client
Refers to the different instant messaging programs and apps that support the open XMPP protocol. You can log in to any of those with your XMPP address / Jabber ID. Be aware that encrypted messages will only display on trusted devices, so your chat history for encrypted messages may not show on new logins.
Here are some XMPP clients for different systems:
Android: Cheogram, Snikket, Conversations, blabber.im
Linux: Dino, Gajim
iOS: siskin.im, Snikket
Browser: mov.im, https://conversejs.org/
- XMPP Address / Jabber ID
Every user on the XMPP network has a unique XMPP address, called JID (Jabber IDs). These addresses are structured like an Email address with a username and a domain name for the server where that user resides, separated by an @ sign.
For example, accounts supplied via the Above Privacy Suite are hosted on our own servers and XMPP address / Jabber ID will look like this:
- PSTN = Public switched telephone network
Refers to the general phone / cellular service.
When using a virtual phone number with Cheogram, international phone numbers can be added directly as contacts using PSTN. It will then convert it automatically into an XMPP address which JMP and Cheogram is able to bridge.
Cheogram is a project that seeks to offer "a set of services that connect multiple open communication networks together, allowing you to reach all your contacts from a single app." Their app for Android is open source and basically functions like a XMPP client with additionally offering access to the cellular network via a virtual phone number - allowing you to make and receive phone calls and text messages to phone numbers internationally without using a SIM card. Instead it works over the internet, so the problematic aspects of SIM cards themselves can be prevented this way.
Please note: For the virtual phone number the calls and texts are still bridging into the cellular network, which means it can not be considered private, as the information in these networks can be visible to providers and government agencies.
For a more private way of communication consider sticking within the XMPP protocol, so encrypted messages from one XMPP account to another XMPP account.
JMP is a service from Canada that gives you a real phone number for calling and texting, including group and picture messages. Since it uses the Jabber (XMPP) network, it works from any device and any XMPP client with calling functionality.
With the Above Privacy Suite you get 1 month of free trial to test it out right away. After logging in with your XMPP address (JID) on Cheogram, you can select one of the thousands of numbers they have available and start using it right away!
This is an extension for seamless End-to-End encryption on XMPP. In words of developer Andreas Straub the idea is "to provide multi-end to multi-end encryption, allowing messages to be synchronized securely across multiple clients, even if some of them are offline". To be able to active this, both parties have to 'trust' each others devices by adding each other as contacts and enabling presence updates. If you have encryption enabled, your messages are encrypted by using to the devices fingerprint and will show a small lock symbol inside of the message.
- Jitsi Meet
Jitsi Meet is a open source application for video conferencing. It allows audio & video calls, screen-sharing and new members can be invited via a generated link that simply can be opened in a web browser or with a mobile app (supports Android & iOS). Jitsi meet servers can be hosted locally, giving complete autonomy on the generated data of calls.
As part of the Above Privacy Suite you can get access to our own privately hosted Jitsi Meet instance (server).
The main public server for Jitsi is meet.jit.si
Contacts & Calendar synchronization
DAVx⁵ is a CalDAV/CardDAV management and sync app for Android. It also provides access to your WebDAV Cloud files. DAV stands for "Distributed Authoring and Versioning", which means it is aiming for a decentralized structure.
As a less technical explication: you can use this app to synchronize your contacts and calendars with your other devices (other phones or computer/desktops), by using a privately hosted server. Instead of letting Google or Apple do this (and get access to your data) you can choose who you trust, or could even host your own server.
As part of the Above Privacy Suite we offer access to our self-hosted server for you to synchronize your contacts and calendars.
DAVx⁵ itself describes the x⁵ as five core values:
Stands for vCard Extensions to WebDAV (CardDAV) and refers to a client/server protocol to access and and manage contact data and address books with private servers. Basically you can synchronize your contacts with other devices by using apps that support the CardDAV protocol (for example: Mozilla Thunderbird, Evolution on Linux)
Stands for Calendaring Extensions to WebDAV and refers to a client/server protocol to access and manage calendar data along with the ability to schedule meetings with users on the same or on remote servers. Basically you can synchronize your calendar with other devices by using apps that support the CalDAV protocol (for example: Mozilla Thunderbird, Evolution on Linux, Mailspring, or iOS & MacOS support it by default). It uses the iCalendar format for the calendar data.
WireGuard refers to a communication protocol, as well as free and open-source software that implements encrypted virtual private networks (VPNs). It was designed with the goals of ease of use, high speed performance, and low attack surface and aims for better performance and more power than IPsec and OpenVPN. As part of the Above Privacy Suite we offer acces to our own self-hosted VPN servers. If you are subscribed, you can get a VPN configuration file that can be set up with Wireguard on the phone.
The main screen on your phone, accessed with the circle from the navigation bar. You can see this as a canvas to customize to your liking. App shortcuts and widgets can be placed here and many pages created – access those by swiping left and right. On the Above Phone we already customized the home screen and created shortcuts and folders for you to give you an idea what can be done and what specific apps are there for.
This is the screen that shows the power button was pressed to lock or after the phone has not been used from a while. It usually just shows you the clock and may show current notifications. If the phone is secured by a password (which is highly recommended) it will not give any further access before the phone is unlocked with a PIN / fingerprint.
Customization is possible through: Settings > Display > Lock Screen
On the very bottom of the screen you should see a triangle, a circle and a square (when 3-Button navigation is enabled), which offer you the following functions:
- Triangle – can be thought of like a ‘Back button’. Usually it takes you back to the past screen inside an app. When typing into a keyboard, it this triangle flips downwards and allows you to close / hide the keyboard
- Circle – can be thought of like the ‘Home button’. It will always take you back to your home screen from anywhere else.
- Square – shows the active apps in windows layed out horizontally. Just swipe left and right and top on the windows to jump back into them. You can also take screenshots of those apps with the button underneath the app windows. And by tapping and holding on the specific app icon on the top of the app window, it’s possible to active split-screen modes, as well as a shortcut to the ‘App info’ section.
Some apps come with unique widgets that offer direct interaction from the home screen. Those can be accessed by tapping and holding on an empty space of your home screen – a small menu will show up with ‘Widgets’ inside of it. Just explore the options you’ll find there and see how you like them. To delete them from your home screen, just tap and hold on them and move them up into the tile that says ‘Delete’.
When swiping up from the home screen, the App drawer will open. This is where all installed apps are listed in alphabetical order. By opening an app, just tap it shortly. If you want to have shortcuts for specific apps on your home screen, just tap and hold on your favorite apps to move them around where you see fit!
The operating system and apps can have the functionality to notify you about current things. All these will be listed in the notifications section. To see and manage those, swipe down once from the very top of your screen. If you want to dismiss them, just swipe them away to the side (Note: some notifications can not be dismissed). To deactivate the ones you don’t want to see, just tap and hold on the notification tile and either tap on ‘Turn off notifications’ at the bottom left, or tap on the cogwheel icon on the top right to get extensive control about all sorts of notifications from the specific app.
These are the tiles that quickly allow you to change settings or initiate actions. When swiping down from the very top of the screen the notification section will show, as well as four ‘principal’ quick settings tiles on the top. From here it’s possible to swipe down again to reveal all of the active quick settings. It’s also possible to customize them by tapping on the small pencil icon, that shows toward the bottom right – it will allow you move them around by tapping and holding on the tiles, as well as activate / deactivate them by moving them to and from the bottom part of that list.
This is the app specific settings section that offers extensive control to every installed app individually. This is where you have control over: Notifications, Permissions, Storage usage, Data usage, Battery usage, Default apps, and much more!
To get there quickly, just tap and hold on the app icon you want to modify and then tap on the circled (i) , sometimes described with ‘App info’