How to Use Android Without Google: Everything You Need to Know
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Over the past few years, I made a big change to the way I use my phone. I decided to use Android without Google.

Can I use Android without a Google account? As it turns out, giving up and saying no to Google is possible, and the experience isn’t nearly as bad as you might think.

This is a look at what I’m still able to do on Android without relying on any of Google’s services, including Google Play Services, and what I have had to give up.

Why Use Android Without Google?

Only a particular set of people are willing to give up access to the Play Store and Google’s suite of apps. That said, you may be one of them. There are many reasons why you might want to use a Google-free Android phone; here are some of the big ones.

1. Google Has Gotten Out of Hand

Google homepage

When I first started using Google, it was to perform searches. Then it became a way to manage mail, which then turned into a place for instant messaging. Later, Google became a way to look at maps, which morphed into a GPS replacement steering me around town. Still further, it became a place for writing documents and storing files.

Google became a way to browse the web and sync every page I visited. Then it turned into a way to download and manage apps, track Android devices, and wipe them remotely. Search on Android became Google Now, which then became Google Assistant, a digital assistant that uses everything Google knows about us based on our activity.

I’m not inherently against sharing any of this information with a company, but to share it all with one company is a bit much. This leads us to the next reason.

2. You Want to Increase Your Privacy

Google Play Services runs in the background on every Android device that ships with the Play Store. This helps Google perform a number of tasks, from installing apps remotely to pulling up your location. These services also give third-party apps access to some of that functionality.

Opting to use Android without signing into a Google account reduces some of the information you’re giving away. That said, it won’t suddenly turn your device into a ghost. The act of pinging and connecting to cell towers makes mobile phones inherently trackable. But making this change reduces some of the information that you generate and share.

3. You Like Open Source

The layers of Android open source

Android is an open source operating system Is Android Really Open Source? And Does It Even Matter? Is Android Really Open Source? And Does It Even Matter? Here we explore whether or not Android is really open source. After all, it is based on Linux! Read More , but most of the software that we use on our phones isn’t. If you’ve ever wanted to use only the open source bits, the easiest way is to replace your phone’s default firmware with a custom ROM.

This way, you know you’re getting the parts Google contributes to the Android Open Source Project. Sure, there are some proprietary bits that get your phone’s radios and sensors to work, but that’s the same compromise many of us make when we install Linux on our PCs.

Since it’s really hard to know which apps in the Play Store are open source, avoiding it entirely decreases your likelihood of installing something closed-source. You will still need to get apps from somewhere, but we’ll come back to that.

Why Shouldn’t You Go Google-Free?

You’re curious about using a non-Google Android phone. But hold on. Here are some reasons why you might want to exercise restraint.

1. You May Have to Give Up A Lot of Apps

Some of the Google apps available on the Play Store

You might not be able to continue using much of what you rely on right now. Saying goodbye to Google means losing out on the many Android apps that Google makes.

If you choose to go a step further, and use only open source software, like I did, this is even more drastic. Say goodbye to social networks, music streaming services, popular games, most navigation tools, cloud storage providers, video streaming sites, and many productivity tools.

There are alternatives to some of these apps available, but if you want to go 100% open source, you’re going to miss out on quite a bit.

2. Slower Updates

Alternative app stores may provide access to a good number of apps you would find on Google Play, but updates don’t roll out as quickly. Some of these sources fall weeks or months behind.

This isn’t solely a matter of losing out on the latest features either.

3. Security Risks

Slow updates can leave you open to known vulnerabilities. But that’s not the primary security risk you open yourself up to. The most common way to compromise a device is to install malicious software, typically unsuspectingly. Using an alternative app store means allowing your device to install software outside of the Play Store, opening yourself up to these kind of attacks.

Unfortunately, this is a trade-off you have to consider for yourself. Do you rely on the added security that comes from only installing software from the Play Store (which, for what it’s worth, can occasionally allow a piece of sketchy software slip by)? Or do you get your apps from elsewhere and run the risk of getting your hands on something that hasn’t been vetted?

What Apps Can You Use Out of the Box?

Even without installing a single app, our smartphones are already capable of doing a great deal. You can place calls, send text messages, take photos, maintain a calendar, listen to music, solve math problems, take notes, and browse the web without looking for additional software.

This is already more than what feature phones can do, and let’s be real, millions of people are still carrying one of those around without it having a negative effect on their lives. You can turn your Android phone into an advanced dumbphone How to Turn an Android Phone Into a Dumbphone in 8 Steps How to Turn an Android Phone Into a Dumbphone in 8 Steps Are you glued to your smartphone? Try making it simpler, like a dumbphone, using these tips to declutter and disconnect. Read More and stop there.

How functional your phone will be out of the box depends on the manufacturer. LG, HTC, and Samsung devices come with a number of pre-installed apps you’ll only find on each company’s devices. These apps will continue to work without syncing your phone to a Google account.

On a Pixel device, the situation is a bit more challenging, since these devices come loaded with Google software. Even if you remove all the apps that require a Google account to function, you will still lose some features in the apps that remain.

For example, the dialer app still works fine, but it doesn’t automatically pull down contacts, and you can only pull up numbers that are saved to your device. The camera app take photos, but it doesn’t offer to automatically back them up to Google Photos. Play Music only plays files stored locally.

Frankly, this situation didn’t bother me. Despite the wide availability of music streaming services, I still buy albums and store my music locally. Even with access to cloud services, I back up much of my data to hard drives. When given the choice to sync my browsing history and tabs, I decline.

These are all habits I formed due to limited data plans, spotty coverage, inconsistent access to a reliable internet connection, and discomfort at the thought of trusting companies with such personal data. I say this to stress that there may be other benefits you lose by giving up Google that just didn’t occur to me, due to the way I use my phone.

That said, I needed more apps than this to continue doing what I expected from a smartphone.

How Do You Get More Apps Without Google?

There are a number of alternative app stores for Android, but I’m only going to go over a couple. Which one you prefer will vary depending on why you’re choosing to use Android without a Google account.

F-Droid

I didn’t just opt to use a smartphone without Google. I also wanted to exclusively use open source software. Because of this, I chose to install F-Droid, an app store of sorts that only contains free and open source software. Linux users may find that it feels more like a software repository. The service keeps logs of new apps and lets you revert to older releases if necessary.

F-Droid contains over a thousand apps, and I find I can get by using just its selection. That said, I don’t play many games on my phone, nor do I use it to browse social networks. Folks who do won’t find what they’re looking for here.

Download: F-Droid (Free)

Amazon Appstore

The Amazon Appstore has been around since 2011 and now contains over 300,000 apps. If you don’t trust Google but still want your software distributed by another well-known name, Amazon may be the way to go. This is the default app store on Amazon Fire tablets, and its collection is large enough to keep folks who buy those devices satisfied.

The Appstore lacks access to Google software, but you shouldn’t have much trouble finding alternatives. You will also find apps from the major social networks. But for the privacy-conscious, I don’t see how trading Google for Amazon is at all an improvement.

We’ve compared the Amazon Appstore to Google Play if you’d like a deeper breakdown.

Download: Amazon Appstore (Free)

Other Google Play Alternatives

In addition to F-Droid and the Amazon Appstore, there are a few other Google Play alternatives The 4 Best Google Play Alternatives for Downloading Android Apps The 4 Best Google Play Alternatives for Downloading Android Apps Don't want to use the Google Play Store? Or don't have access to it? Here are the best alternative app stores for Android. Read More . You might also consider checking the LG app store or Samsung’s app store if you own one of their devices.

Download Apps Directly From Your Browser

Though getting your software from an app store is the recommended model, you also have the option to download apps directly from websites. This is risky, so be careful which websites you trust. Some notable options include CNET and APK Mirror.

The downside to this approach is that you will not get automatic updates, which is a security vulnerability. I would suggest considering this as a last-ditch option for those must-have apps that you can’t find outside of the Play Store.

Replacing Must-Have Android Features

Yes, a smartphone is pretty smart just the way it is, but there are some features that many of us aren’t willing to give up. What you put into this category will vary, but these are the categories where I had to go searching for good options.

Search and Web Browsing

I don’t use my phone to browse the web all that much. When I do open a web browser, it’s usually to search for something. So I was very happy to find that DuckDuckGo, the search engine that doesn’t track you How Does DuckDuckGo Protect Your Personal Information Online? How Does DuckDuckGo Protect Your Personal Information Online? Curious about DuckDuckGo but confused about how the search engine can improve your online privacy? Here's what you need to know. Read More , has an Android app that combines the two experiences into one.

You can perform searches and open the resulting page all in the same place. You can also drop a widget at the top of your homescreen where you would usually see Google.

If half of your searches are on Wikipedia, you may want to install its dedicated Android app. That route is much faster than going through a browser.

Download: DuckDuckGo (Free)
Download: Wikipedia (Free)

Navigation

Google Maps may work without an account, but I had already cut down on my usage even before giving up the Play Store. Instead I tried options like Sygic and Nokia Here. These apps are still available in places outside of the Play Store.

Since I decided to go the open source route, I eventually settled on OsmAnd. It’s not nearly as flashy as other navigation apps, but with the option to download free maps of most of the world, it does have its advantages. I recommend pairing OSMAnd with an address-locating app like Acastus, because the app is pretty bad at recognizing street addresses on its own.

Download: OsmAnd (Free)
Download: Acastus Photon (Free)

Podcasts

Podcasts are a major form of entertainment for me. My previous favorite podcast app was BeyondPod, but now I’ve started using AntennaPod.

There are only a couple other options available in F-Droid, but if you aren’t working with that limitation, you shouldn’t have any problem at all finding a good podcast app in your alternative app store of choice.

Download: AntennaPod (Free)

Notes and To-Do Lists

I really like Google Keep, but I’m not a fan of the way it syncs everything to the cloud. This means I’m also put off by Evernote and similar alternatives. I prefer apps that only store my notes locally. Fortunately, there are quite a few options:

Download: Mirakel
Download: Notepad
Download: Tasks (an open source fork of Astrid)

Really, That’s All You Needed?

Pretty much. My device came with a decent music player, and so does the OS that ships on most phones. If you need a recommendation, try Shuttle, which is available on the Amazon Appstore. You can also find Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Pandora there.

On the social network front, there’s Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. Amazon’s store is absolutely loaded with games, too.

Living Without Google Play Services

Google Play Services

Not signing into a Google account cuts the company off from your personal identity, but it doesn’t disconnect Google from your device. To really go Google-free, you must get rid of Google Play services. However, you can’t do so without a decent amount of effort. This is not one of those apps you can disable out of the box.

There are two choices you can make. The least invasive option is to root your phone The Complete Guide to Rooting Your Android Phone or Tablet The Complete Guide to Rooting Your Android Phone or Tablet So, you want to root your Android device? Here's everything you need to know. Read More , which will let you delete software you can’t otherwise remove. The second is to replace your phone’s default OS with a custom ROM 12 Reasons to Install a Custom Android ROM 12 Reasons to Install a Custom Android ROM Think you don't need a custom Android ROM anymore? Here are several reasons to install a custom Android ROM. Read More . I went with the latter approach.

Even after you do this, some apps require Google Play Services to run. This means doing without some excellent third-party apps like Pushbullet. Unfortunately, the apps that need Google Play Services aren’t clearly marked.

As it turned out, my solution was to exclusively use software I could find in F-Droid. Despite this, you can presumably get by with whatever you find on Amazon or in alternative markets where Google apps aren’t available. You’ll be fine unless you start hunting around for APKs on the web.

What If I Just Use Google Play Services?

If you’re interested in cutting out Google, it’s probably because you don’t want to give the company so much information.

Well, take a moment to go to the Google Play services Play Store page and view the list of required permissions. You may not have done this before, since the background service comes pre-installed on most devices and generally only draws attention to itself when it crashes. Anyway, notice how you’re granting access to just about everything.

Google Play services permissions

This is no shameful secret or anything. You can visit the Google Developers site to see how Google Play services are intended to integrate with Android and Android apps. Most of those permissions are likely in place to enable this integration. Nevertheless, that’s a lot of permission you’re giving to an app that connects to remote servers, typically without notice.

But I Can’t Do Without Google!

Okay, you don’t have to cut yourself off entirely. You still have the option to sign into Google sites in your mobile browser the same way you would from a PC. The experience won’t be quite as good as using native apps, but if you’re concerned about privacy, this option lets you browse in incognito mode or clear cookies manually whenever you wish.

Is Using Android Without Google Worth It?

We have surrendered a great deal of personal information to smartphone makers, but this is hardly a story unique to Android, or even iOS for that matter. We’ve accepted this trade-off with every social network, free email provider, online maps site, and seemingly every other internet-driven service.

There are many ways to cope with this new reality, but as we see at the beginning of every EULA agreement, you either accept this or you opt out.

Google Maps terms and conditons acceptance screen

I’m not out to encourage everyone to give up Google. The company has done some good. Even without the Play Store, Android as a whole is predominantly a Google project. But Android devices (and Chromebooks too) are based on Linux, which gives an open source guy like myself the freedom to make these sort of adjustments.

Going Google-free gives privacy-minded users the option to take a bit more control over their devices. It gives minimalists the ability to strip out whatever isn’t necessary to place calls and browse the web. Doing this also gives us all the capability to opt out without having to throw away our phones. No Google? For me, no problem.

And if Android just isn’t for you, there are some Linux smartphone operating systems 3 Linux Smartphone Operating Systems You Can Install Today 3 Linux Smartphone Operating Systems You Can Install Today Want to replace Android with Linux on your smartphone? Try out these Linux mobile solutions for smartphones and tablets. Read More worth considering.

Explore more about: Android Customization, Custom Android Rom, Google, Google Play Store, Longform Guide, Open Source, Smartphone Privacy.

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  1. Andrea
    May 3, 2019 at 5:01 am

    You can also expect much worse battery life because of the lack of Google play services, which provides, out of the top of my head, two crucial features in a very energy efficient way:
    - geolocation and geofencing with limited use of dedicated hardware (i.e. GPS)
    - high priority notification delivery when phone is dozing. Without Google play services, you'll probably have to choose between delayed notifications or whitelisting your app from battery savings while your phone is idle. Add several apps to this whitelist and you're looking at a steep battery curve

    • Emppu
      August 25, 2019 at 9:19 pm

      Actually it's the other way around. After custom rom my battery life doubled in many devices. Not only because of google apps doing something all the time on the background, it was also the manufacturer's apps coming with the phone.

  2. Vin
    April 12, 2019 at 11:56 am

    Nice

  3. Michael
    December 3, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    Well-written. I've been doing exactly what you have described for about five years. Now using LineageOS.
    Am having a problem just recently though where some services require 2FA using the Google Authenticator App, which seems to require Google Play Services on the phone to use. Currently I'm doing this with an old phone that has LineageOS and the Play Store only on it.
    Another great source of open-source apps is http://prism-break.org/

  4. Rick
    November 29, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    You talked, and talked, but I can't find the steps on how to remove this f.....g google crap from my phone. I want to remove, all apps from google, yahoo, facebook, twitter, WhatsApp, youtube, Microsoft, etc... I use my phone for taking pictures, answering or calling friends, and for texting. Is there a phone on the market that does that only? Is there a store that people can go and pay to have all that crap removed from their phones? You told us the problem but did not suggest a real clue to get them removed, or a place to bring your phone where they can be removed.

  5. Sheppard
    August 18, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    Thanks for the good article Bertel.

    I'm not sure if your readers are aware of Googles manipulation of the android phone market, no one can use a new android phone without agreeing to Googles EULA, TOS, and Privacy Agreement. I bought a Samsung Note 8, and in the store the salesman set up the phone. After leaving the store I went through the Note 8's settings and saw that some of Googles Apps would not allow me to turn off their access to my private information. I began to remove everything that was google related but could not remove a few apps. I then did a factory reset, buried several clicks down was Googles TOS and EULA with a link to their privacy agreement. The phone would not go past the Agreements without accepting them. It could not be used. I'm not against the employees or lower management of the company and many of the products are great, but it has been fundamental to survival and freedom of choice to protect against exploitation of vulnerabilities. Gathering and assembling seemingly innocent data over a long period of time is exactly gathering and collecting vulnerabilities. Google forces everyone using an android to agree that Google can legally collect, store, and aggregate their data and sell or exploit it. It might appear to be harmless to the naive, but the naive does not understand how it is used. Here in the USA, we have not seen how data is used against a population to manipulate it. Europe has seen it, and much of the world is still being exploited through the use of it. It’s not a small matter. Agreeing to Google's EULA, TOS, and PA is agreeing to allow Google or any other entity to collect vulnerabilities and store them for a lifetime. Google is large company that profits by selling data. Selling... vulnerabilities. I was not happy that Samsung forced its users to agree to Google's EULA and TOS. Thus, I returned the phone.

    • Dee Free
      December 5, 2018 at 5:09 pm

      So what phone did you get instead?

    • jo guy
      July 25, 2019 at 12:27 am

      You could just as well use a totally self-manufactured "id" with just a s relevant "data" tied to it to feed the device with. NOBODY really cares who you REALLY are as long as they get some feedback from your usage of their disposable device. just don't take them seriously.

  6. Tony
    July 24, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    This wa an excellent article. Is there someone out there that can perform these services since don't know how? Is there a shop that will do this? I'm not a big app user, so I don't need or want most of this crap.

  7. steven
    June 18, 2018 at 8:21 am

    Hi Bertel King,
    Thanks for article.
    Is there a way to do hands-free phone dialing without google?
    I purchased a Moto 4g a few years ago and it came with a Moto provided app that let me make hands-free voice call in my car without being connected to google. After a year or two it stopped working and Moto could not / would not fix it and the only way I could then do hands-free dialling was by using "ok google".
    I have used other phones more recently (Sony Z5, Nexus) and I can not find a way to have hands-free without a connection to google.
    Is there a solution?
    thanks

  8. Jim
    May 22, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    This is thee most honest and clear article on the subject of deceitful business practices that I have read. Information gathering (stealing) is now the norm and our government doesn't even know the right questions to ask. If the same tactics were practiced by a bank or a burglar they would be treated as they should be. We will pay the ultimate price some day for giving up not only all of our personal information, but information categorized in a way only a super computer company like Google could attain. Even today, they have the technology to take anything and everything from each and every one of us. Your article is very factual, but almost delivered with the fear of retaliation from the big "G". But, SUPER informative. Thank you, Vincent

  9. fire boy
    May 5, 2018 at 3:41 am

    Thanks Bertel King, Jr. for such a great informing write-up! I learned a lot from
    your article and from the many comments.... more arrows in my quiver to dump as much of google as I can. I to would like to sever all ties with them but on a Android phone that's almost impossible, but I try anyway! Here's a few things I have done to break away as much as I can::
    - I dumped Chrome browser.
    - I don't open or use gmail, but I do sign into the account when the need arises.
    - I have gone to topmail.com, $30 a year and completely encrypted.
    - I ordered the Purism Librem 5 cell phone – A Security and Privacy Focused Phone from https://puri.sm/
    - I've been using f-droid for about a year now
    - Signal app download, now has a visit signal.org/install from your phone at::https://signal.org/download/

  10. Bob Barker
    April 17, 2018 at 1:55 am

    Great article. I was inspired by the predecessor article to this one that was written some time ago. I rooted my phone and used Titanium Backup to completely uninstall all things Google from my Moto G4 on stock Nougat 7.0. Note that the only way to actually uninstall Google apps and services is to root the device.

    The phone works great, no bloat churning in the background means ultra-responsiveness, the battery lasts at least twice as long and I'm not giving all my personal data to Google to sell to the highest bidder. Win.

  11. Pedro
    April 15, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    Nice article!

  12. Jack
    April 8, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    I just learned Google tracks you down to the second even if your phone is set to Airplane mode or you remove the sim card! Big Brother???

  13. PisdUser
    March 21, 2018 at 11:07 am

    THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS ARTICLE! Users need to FIGHT BACK for their privacy and freedom and quit being LAZY and TRUSTING in all areas. It's time to hold big corporate and big government ACCOUNTABLE and stop GIVING privacy/freedom/CHOICE away for "security"!!

    They are essentially raping a device you PAID for by not giving you CONTROL over YOUR OWN PROPERTY/DEVICE!!

  14. Jack
    February 23, 2018 at 6:34 am

    Very focused, thorough and substantive article. Big kudos.

    • 5g sucks
      October 27, 2018 at 4:08 pm

      yes, great!

  15. William
    January 19, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    Dear Bertel, it would be inappropriate on my part to not comment sincerely after understanding the overall thought process presented here by you.
    Indeed, Google and other tech giants are using our identity and We must do what we can to defend our freedom.

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      January 30, 2018 at 4:22 pm

      Thanks for the comment, and I'm glad you appreciated you the piece!

  16. Curtis Stotlar
    December 21, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    This "help" to get rid of Google Play - which has invaded my email with something I never asked for in the first place - was some twenty- page scroll of services I want

  17. Alfred99
    October 18, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    I want a cheap smartphone with a good camera, and I don't want to sign in to google or anything else. The camera has to be in the middle, not by the edge. I only care about one app, and I don't need google to get it. Other than that, I just want the usual stuff: phone, text, notepad. I prefer to pay $200 or less. Any suggestions about what phone I should get?

  18. Matthew Berry
    October 18, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Thank-you. I have hesitated leaving Nokia N8 because of Android links to Google where I have no accounts, and wish to use my choices of browsers, navigation, etc as per a mobile PC where I fail to recognise the value of most APPs, except perhaps for spreading social hysteria!

  19. Joshua
    October 11, 2017 at 7:57 am

    I have basically done this on the BlackBerry priv.There is no root but you can disable instead. Not optimal but a good trade off for this rendition of Android.

    Coming from BlackBerry 7 and 10 I wasn't accustomed to all the nosyness and intrusion just so icould have convenience. the so-called free apps come at a huge price. Most BlackBerry apps were Cheap. Certainly cheaper than giving a company unfettered access.

    At your recommendation I only use duckduckgo. I now *l go duck" it on the internet when I look stuff up

    For apps I just re-activate google play, gpservices etc, log in and buy an app and re-disable. Only reason I have Gmail at all

    Great article!

  20. Moem
    September 24, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    Nowadays, Signal can be used just fine without any connection to Google or their Play Store. It's working very well on my Blackphone.

  21. Sideloader
    September 24, 2017 at 8:23 am

    - Install apps from any source

    websearch of your choice (appname).apk

    transfer .apk file to phone.

    install apk.

    bamf, app installation without google. Be careful and check the checksums match the official release, you are installing via an insecure method. but this is what makes android great.

  22. Kyle
    September 18, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Our app AnT Notepad Cipher on playstore is particularly suited for private notes / text files. No ads or spying code, and it's even free for twitter lovers. (140 chrs)
    Another problem from google is that they completly shut down honest developers. You can only make a living if you "implant" google ads, analytics, tags or pay them a fortune.

    • My name is
      November 26, 2018 at 11:43 pm

      You should make your app available on f-droid, that is the crowd that craves these features and there are not enough good notes apps on f-droid.

  23. Angela
    September 17, 2017 at 10:44 am

    My mobile keeps asking me to update Google Play Services and I go through as far as the permissions window but then always abort because it's asking me to sign my life away to them and I do not give google permission to access my phone whenever they want, or leave turn it on and off when they want, or to access my contacts etc... the list is endless. I tried to uninstall but it won't let me. I turned off notifications but it still pops up telling me I need to update. I'm bloody sick of it.

  24. WebUser
    September 7, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    Thank you for this! I thought I was the only one! I love podcasts and privacy and I hate being treated as a lab rat by large corporations ?

  25. Lazar
    August 21, 2017 at 4:27 am

    I always try to avoid google. I avoid chrome, google search etc.. But i still use gmail, maps. I will change that, probably with proton mail,they are awesome. For job mostly i basically depend on social media and my gmail account but at least i don't have my personal data online, expect name i think. I recommend flashing some open source custom rom, most of them will be google free. I can't without many apps but i can change their unnecessarily permissions. Biggest problem is in google service, it won't work if you change permissions so that is that. They are forcing you to give them data.

    • Kyle
      September 18, 2017 at 10:29 am

      Exactly. They force all companies like samsung etc. You can't disable or even close google services (restart itself) , which collect all you do and give/sell to the whole world.

  26. John Phoenix
    August 4, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    I thought it was a good article. I got a free government phone from the Lifeline program. I can't root the phone to uninstall any Google bloatware or move apps to an sd card to save on the tiny space or use an sd card for a swap file to get more out of my ram - all very reasonable request. The phone uses Google products for Everything. I have no doubt everything I say and do on the phone is being recorded by someone. But hey.. as a government phone they should give me one I can Root Dammit. Because it's a government program, shouldn't I have the freedom to use my device as I want? I do use google voice because I use the free phone number to give me a wifi phone so I don't have to use my cell plan minutes. I can replace this with Talkatone but they will push ad's and I need an ad free phone experience.

  27. Anima
    June 29, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    There is an open source project to replace G. P. Services called Micro G GmsCore. I'm using it. Everything work but it depend on roms, apps and settings (:

    https://forum.xda-developers.com/android/apps-games/app-microg-gmscore-floss-play-services-t3217616

  28. Anima
    June 19, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    Hello!
    Nice text!
    If I don't install G. P. Services, I don't get notifications from different messengers while I don't open them and it's annoying do it manually several times al hour.
    If there is not a solution, I guess that I'll use the g. p. s. but unís time taking a look to the processes.

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      June 19, 2017 at 10:41 pm

      Unfortunately, many apps use Google Play services to deliver notifications and don't offer a workaround.

    • Kyle
      September 18, 2017 at 10:31 am

      The solution is called jabber, use ChatSecure, but not the version on google play lol

  29. Anongirl
    May 28, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    Thank you for all the info. You have prob saved me in ways you can't imagine. As of today I will be Google free..

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      May 31, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      Glad to help! Care to share your own reasons for wanting to be Google free?

  30. EsheD
    April 16, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    Good article!

    I say it's possible, just install AOSP based Roms: LineageOS (formally known as CyanogenMod) / AOKP, and there are many other "Android Distros" on XDA, and don't flash Gapps!

    As for Amazon AppStore - guys, it is OK to install that alongside with F-Droid, because on AOSP Roms you always had permission managers (AppOps) even before google officially released it with Marshmallow, so you can restrict Amazon's permissions here! and if that's not enough, AOSP Roms are coming with Root privileges out of the box, so you can (and Must!) install a firewall in order to black list (block internet access) all applications except few apps you trust. Just use AFWall+
    https://f-droid.org/repository/browse/?fdfilter=Firewall&fdid=dev.ukanth.ufirewall

    As for Gmail, you can use any email app with IMAP protocol, and for Youtube, there are alternatives like MiniTube, ot just use your web browser.

    Why AOSP based Roms? because they don't come with Google apps (Gapps) and there are no google apps and hidden services! even if you'll flash the basic version of Gapps, once you'll log into your google account, It will "contaminate" your device with background services and auto-sync to the cloud which will upload Contacts, calendar, photos, people, app data, etc. whiteout even asking you about it! and that's a bit nasty thing they do, because even Apple doesn't do that, if you log-in to your appstore on your iPhone / Mac, they won't sync your entire device / mac to the cloud, so Google must learn something from Apple here. people without tech skills who activate new Android device doesn't have clue about what's happening in the background when they log into the Play store or Gmail app, they don't know that everything from their device is uploaded to the cloud, so when a hacker gets into their account, even intimate photos are there... talking about Privacy...

    I did it in the past because I had problems with Play Services (crash) so CM with F-Droid & Amazon worked fine for me, today I'm back to Nexus device, so I still use Play store, but wanted to share with you guys that it's totally possible to enjoy Android without google.
    Too bad they don't invest in good UX for HTML5 based WebApps...

    Cheers!

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      April 17, 2017 at 8:37 pm

      Thanks for sharing this great advice!

  31. Gewalt
    April 16, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Since I use android I'm almost completely Google free. My reason for this is because Google apps run always in the background and also drains battery and ram. Why you can't fking log into apps without those play services?! Any app which has Facebook for logging in does not require Facebook app. But Google wants to be on your phone always.

  32. Joe
    April 1, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Kind of ridiculous that you recommend Amazon app store if you want privacy. Have you read the permission list on the Amazon app? You are giving them access even to read and modify your incoming txt messages. And to make major changes to your data and access to your external memory. Why Amazon want to read my txt messages that have nothing to do with them?

  33. Mag
    January 18, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    I hope you can help me. I basically need a smartphone for texts, calls, occasional surfing (less than 100 Mb a month) and picture taking. I dont need anything else. Maybe WhatsApp very rarely to keep in touch with family. I like Android but I cannot stand Googles intrusiveness. I dont need Programs, Maps ( I know wher to go or Ill use my Magellan stand alone GPS) Location, Social Media, Music, and what not, etc. I know I can download APKs from other sources like the old .exe installers of old. So Im not worried about "missing out". How can I get a Raw Android with nothing but a Dialer, Phonebook, Text, Camera, WiFi, Data LTE with zero Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook? If I need anymore programs, I will find it myself.

    Ive done the root and custom OS route, but I just dont have anymore time to be hacking all day.

    Thank you.

    • anon
      February 5, 2017 at 1:43 pm

      Not sure about the rest but "WhatsApp" is one of the worst for privacy, google for more info on it, i won't use apps due to the fact they record your calls and sell your data and keep it on a file next to your name or IP etc. someone will soon corner the market for open source google alternatives im guessing, only then will i start using a smart phone with apps.
      Great article by the way, what i would like to see is some links or info on firewall type apps for android which lets us block apps outgoing connections which in theory might allow us to continue using apps while blocking the data they sent out, perhaps? i don't feel safe using any app without having more control over ingoing and outgoing connections, this is something i can easily do on a PC but not on my phone, or maybe i've just not found the right app yet.

      • PisdUser
        March 21, 2018 at 11:13 am

        SEVEN ADCLEAR does this for me.

    • Robert
      February 14, 2017 at 9:45 pm

      Hi Mag,
      What about just unmark "auto-update" , stopping apps , and let them not start when the phone boots?
      In that way you can test it.
      I have Kingo ROOT installed and AppOpsXposed. I see as well AppOps here, and I am going to give it a try. Should take me less then 30 minutes, I guess.
      And yes, I am doing this since Play Store activated all my apps to update, .....

      I'll be back here later

      • Galesh
        August 28, 2017 at 3:48 am

        If Kingo Root is the same with King Root then thats a big no no. I've used it once to to root my phone, it immediately installed unwanted apps on my phone. Upon further inspection, it also open several connection to unknown server on china.

        There's an app to remove the kingo root and replaced them with SuperSU, but I still feel 'dirty' afterward...

  34. Jonas
    January 5, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    Thanks for the article Berthel. I'm wondering how you go about to manage your contacts and/or calendars without using Google? I'm trying to minimize my use of Google, but so far I haven't found any service to replace Google Contacts and Gcal without a lot of hassle. I'm looking for a service that will sync/backup my contacts and isn't too tiresome to implement. I presume that such a service won't be free of charge

    • Dean
      January 5, 2017 at 10:19 pm

      There's Export Contact, and Import Contacts in Fdroid. It might not save the photos of your contacts, I haven't really looked at that. It doesn't sync them either, nor run periodically so you have to remember to do it. It creates a file on the sdcard. I don't remember if FolderSync requires Play Store authentication or not, but something similar can be used to automate uploading it to a cloud account or your own server using Tasker.

      It would be nice if there was something for contact syncs, as it wouldn't be difficult to automate with already existing tools, the problems above are that exporting them isn't automated with that app, and Foldersync may or may not work without Google Verification.

  35. LJ
    December 31, 2016 at 1:50 am

    I appreciate the article. I've been struggling with Google claustrophobia! I can't take a step or even turn around without bumping into Google's 'log-in' demands. I just bought a new tablet tonight, and I 'googled' (:D ) "do I really need to have a Google account to use my tablet". Google generously dropped your article right into my lap, LOL.

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      January 13, 2017 at 8:38 pm

      Haha, that's great!

  36. Rocko
    December 30, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    I thought I was the only cook who did this.. :P.. Thanks for the confidence!

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      January 13, 2017 at 8:38 pm

      I often feel the same way, so I'm happy to hear from you too!

  37. Rocko
    December 30, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    I thought I was the only cook who had done all this.. :P

  38. Devin
    December 22, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    Sounds like you want to turn your phone into a crappy version of Blackberry 10.

  39. miss
    December 18, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    but this is not only for privacy reasons, play services form google is a killing battery machine

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      January 13, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      I am loving how long my phone lasts now.

  40. Harry
    October 16, 2016 at 10:06 am

    The Google keyboard made me cringe... Chech out the permissions for that.

  41. blackberry boy
    June 26, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    Testing

  42. Xc
    June 11, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Pretty good article!Thank you!

    • Bertel King
      June 11, 2016 at 3:45 pm

      Glad to help. :)

  43. MerlinDaD51152
    May 7, 2016 at 7:12 am

    This article is very compelling. I came upon it while searching for methods related to setting up an Android device. The reasoning is well thought-out and discussed. I have become more aware of what options one has when delving into another spectrum of IT. I greatly appreciate the time that was expended in developing the article and kudos to those who took the time to comment.

    • Bertel King
      May 21, 2016 at 1:22 am

      Thanks! I'm glad to help out and to see the great comments on this page.

  44. Gary
    April 17, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    Unless u can roll your own port of Linux instead Google's Android, All these are vain, been there, done that, stripped down every bit of google's service, even gave up to watch YouTube (which relies on google services framework) , but leads nowhere, just check your settings.apk with netstatplus apk. and and see how it's listening and establishing connections with google.
    even ad-away doesn't help , it uses ipv6/ipv4 both to connect Google and so far no way to disable ipv6 on android (all those sh.tty apps claiming they block ipv6 is BS, moreover they embed some their -God knows what- with root authorization to your system folder,
    short of long, you cannot get rid of Google in google's OS which is Android.

  45. Altruizine
    February 5, 2016 at 4:35 am

    A very nice article.

    People tend to literally worship their "convenience" and many if not most of them will take it any day over "inconveniences" of protecting this "illusory nonsense" called privacy. Few people realize, that in the process they quite often sacrifice not only their own privacy but also privacy of their loved ones, friends, colleagues, etc. And all of that without asking these people for their permission/opinion. But who cares, they are just "contacts": numbers, pictures, right?

    By the way, my "device" is free of Google/Amazon apps, and probably the only "features" which I did not replace are:
    - unsolicited and uncontested private data collection
    - highly uncontrolled private data distribution

    The process of getting there took me probably less time than some people are spending per day secretly playing games at "work" when their boss is away.

    And I am glad that I had, and could, execute my freedom because... since we "progress" so much, who knows how long it will be possible ;-)

    (I apologise for any grammar or semantic errors, I am still learning English).

    • andy
      September 2, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      Mate your comprehension of English is better than many native speakers I know, and I live in England XD lol, as for the rest I think you've nailed it. It would seem that some people justify their privacy being gang-banged by saying: look, they have all my data, and I'm okay, it didn't do me any harm. Which would be a perfectly valid statement if they've added "yet" at the end. Sure for now, other than marketing companies trading our data, there isn't much that would directly affect us in any adverse way. Let's entertain for a second though, that the law changes, and freedom of speech is banned completely, and if you're payong attention lately, it's already started happening.. Then the Orwel's nightmare becomes our reality. But yeah, sure, it doesnt matter that we rely more and more, and also are required to trust more and more a company that ultimately always will have its own best interest in mind. A company which has accumulated so much wealth and therefore power that it can actualy influence our laws.(I'm sure everyone is familiar with lobbying)
      Sent from my rooted, de-googled phone running cyanogenmode 12.1

      • PisdUser
        March 21, 2018 at 11:22 am

        I totally agree with you. But we need user friendly root options that actually work. Every time I've gotten a new phone, the last 3 or 4 times, expecting it to be able to be rooted, there's always some excuse why it can't be, so I've about given up. Either a "newer" one is being released and this one is therefore root project abandoned, or it's some cryptic one-letter off type that isn't "supported" by the rooting community. No matter how expensive, or economical, or flagship or not. No way I'm buying an $800 phone to risk bricking without support!

  46. Fik of borg
    January 12, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    I believe that there is a simple trade-off between the benefits one receives and the personal info one have to share, be it with your bank / credit card, with your grocer, with your reading club ....or with Google (or Facebook or Dropbox for that matter).

    I find more valuable the benefits I receive from Google that the hypothetical privacy risk I allow to "let Google in". It's only mutually beneficial that Google is willing to offer those services in exchange to know that I am into electronics, astronomy and outdoors himalayan sex, which I don't care they know.

    • mg
      July 21, 2016 at 8:37 pm

      Saying "I don't need privacy, because I have nothing to hide" is just like saying "I don't need free speech, because I have nothing to say".

      • epiqpwnage
        August 14, 2016 at 8:57 am

        @mg No it is not the same. And no that's not what he said. Reading comprehension fail.

        • PisdUser
          March 21, 2018 at 11:24 am

          Just because some or most people don't care about their privacy doesn't mean mine shouldn't have an OPTION (If not a DEFAULT) to be PROTECTED!

        • Yep
          December 6, 2018 at 7:05 am

          Thanks to:
          PisdUser
          March 21, 2018 at 11:24 am

          Just because some or most people don't care about their privacy doesn't mean mine shouldn't have an OPTION (If not a DEFAULT) to be PROTECTED!

    • Peter
      September 7, 2016 at 5:17 pm

      For navigation you could try maps.me. Also based on OpenStreetMap but way more user friendly compared to osmand. It's free and open-source as well. APK is available on their website.

  47. brad
    January 6, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    Just imagine the people that use Google Fiber to connect their google devices to the google service. End to end google knows everything you do.

    • Bertel King
      January 7, 2016 at 1:33 am

      The idea of that is what puts me off of Project Fi as well. I like Google, but that's a little much for me.

  48. Himanshu
    January 6, 2016 at 8:18 am

    Nice article man! I also went Google free a while back and seriously the thing that hit me the most was that I couldn't use many apps I love because the require play services. I found this open source version of play services by a guy named Marvin over at xda. Although its not very stable but you can check it out if you want. Just search for microg gmscore on xda it will show up.

    • Bertel King
      January 7, 2016 at 1:50 am

      Interesting. This project wasn’t on my radar. Though, I find I don’t miss Google Play Services all that much. How is it working out for you?

      • ulmflb
        June 27, 2017 at 10:48 am

        A lot of time has passed since this article, but I wouldn't have kept a googleless android without microG. It is now far more stable (to be honest, I have never noticed any crash that could be attributed to it) and I have yet to find an app that I couldn't use (whether from AmazonStore or a downloaded apk). Just be sure to use a ROM that supports Signature Spoofing. OmniRom does it almost out of the box, otherwise you have to fiddle with the Xposed framework.

  49. Anonymous
    January 6, 2016 at 5:40 am

    Well written and thought out article! Don't you wish the U.S carriers would just let Ubuntu Phone happen here already?.. Personally I would have installed it long ago if the speeds were even up to 3g standards. The fact that they are only at 2g is the only reason I'm still on Android.

    • Bertel King
      January 7, 2016 at 1:44 am

      Thanks! I'm not sure if I would go out and buy an Ubuntu Phone myself, but I would love to see it hit the market stateside.

    • Himanshu
      January 7, 2016 at 8:10 am

      Well can't tell about current status as I'm not using it right now, but when I did a while back things were not much stable and there were crashes here and there. But hey at least someone's trying. Maybe it gets more support and matures a little then things would be interesting

  50. Big brother
    January 6, 2016 at 4:35 am

    Only someone without any pressing demands on their time or serious responsibilities to uphold in life, I.e. A idiot hipster college student, would spend this much time working harder for less in return.

    No body cares what pr0n site you go to, what games you pirate, what conspiracy theory de jour that you believe in this week. If anything you did or knew was actually a threat to anything with real power, you would be dead already. Just like every other privacy paranoid, your greatest fear isn't actually that they are listening, but that your life is so painfully effeminate and average that Big Brother isn't even aware you ever existed. A life so plain, living it or not makes no difference.

    • Dean Guilberry
      January 12, 2016 at 1:49 pm

      Just wait until porn mail shows up in your snail mail box addressed to you and your kid is reading it.
      Or any other thing that you may have searched gets sold off to some scab. You dont think much about privacy until the day comes an you find out how someone took over your bank account or email etc.

    • Mark
      June 27, 2016 at 9:52 am

      You must be loads of fun at parties. Douchebag.

    • Corporation Killer
      March 4, 2017 at 6:22 pm

      Way to weigh in with fantastic fascist serving fantasy.

      Corporations already control those in your government, they control your police. These fascist fluffers in uniform that signed up to "protect & serve" are only serving corporations by protecting them from the people they victimize.

      My life evidently is important enough for FBI to talk to me because ITT tech (lied) requested; I'm still here & they are gone.

    • WakenedNotWeakened
      July 13, 2017 at 10:57 am

      But that's what they want you to do: spend "...much time working harder for less in return." To do this, implement slavery, they must first have control. To get control, they must first spy on everyone and everything. To make people accept an inhuman lack of privacy, they must make everyone fear terrorism or some abstract never-ending 'war'. Same as the War On Drugs which was designed to lay the ground for such human rights abuses. It's not complex logic, you just have to be willing to live in reality. Otherwise your kids will be shouldering your generation's share of the burden, and the Orwellian "boot stamping on a human face. Forever." Will be a reality. Your choice. Not the worthless-life people's. Stop projecting or reframing it to where it's none of your responsibility. It's ALL of ours.

  51. Nikolaj Knudsen
    January 5, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    He he, the author got it upside down. The reason for using Android is to get all the Google advantages :-)

    • Bertel King
      January 7, 2016 at 1:36 am

      That is one compelling reason. I'll give you that.

      Personally I've waited years for a solid open source mobile operating system, and as it turns out, one is already here. Android just isn't marketed as such like Ubuntu Phone and Sailfish OS.

  52. Anonymous
    January 5, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    Going Google-free is probably easier with an Amazon Fire* device or something based on AOSP (Android Open Source Project). Starting without the Google Play Services Framework makes the dependencies much easier to find.

    • rocco
      October 8, 2017 at 3:44 pm

      i have an oppo, and it doesnt have any google services. in fact, they cant be installed. all chinese phones such as vivo, meizu, gionee have google completely blocked because of the security thret. i use qq to chat with my wife. and i use apk files to install programs. i dont use any app store. i just copy all my photos to a computer via usb. dont need google photos. never did.

      • Asugna
        November 26, 2017 at 3:24 am

        I have an a retirex old Nexus S with about 13 gb of free storage which I want to store music on and play but google won't let me use Google Play music without registering an account with phone number , email address and updating and activating Google Play Services. How can I get around that . And to the author of the article you didn't explain how to get rid of Android ? Like one of the posts in here said disabling google apps does not mean getting rid of Android .