Google may have introduced a fancy new integrated phone directory in Android 4.4 KitKat, but that has not exactly sat well with everyone, particularly those who adhere closely to the more open source nature of the Android Open Source Project. Fortunately, there might soon be soon be an alternative now that OmniROM is hard at work on an equivalent, or even better, dialer.
Recently, Google has been putting in its own new features into the core experience provided by Android. Some, like the photos and SMS, are being replaced by Google+ equivalents. Others are just plain smarter, like the new integrated phone directory, but also tap into Google’s enormous database. Unfortunately, this is not free from disadvantages. Privacy-conscious individuals might shudder at the thought of letting Google know each and every number or name you try to dial. Another is that the core open source apps shipped with AOSP are practically left to rot in favor of Google’s proprietary equivalents.
Knowing full well those concerns, OmniROM has decided to build up on the AOSP dialer and try to deliver something similar. The new AOSP-based integrated phone directory will pretty much function the same way as Google’s version does. Simply type in a keyword or name and, after a few seconds, the numbers of nearby locations and establishments will appear. There are, of course, key differences between the two. For one, OmniROM’s implementation uses the free and open OpenStreetMap instead of Google’s services. Secondly, the app won’t send your exact location even to OpenStreetMap’s servers. Instead, it will simply give your rough position. There is even a possibility that for more able users to use their self-hosted OSM server if they want.
Right now, this open source dialer is still in development and there isn’t much to show yet, aside from a lone screenshot. OmniROM indicates that it plans to give users the freedom to choose their own poison, allowing them to either use the more open OSM or the admittedly more complete Google Places API.