Escaping the Big Brother - Google

For one fresh blog, this topic will seem shocking!:) However, enough time has passed since the beginning of my experiment to be able to describe my experience. Experiment I’m talking about is using an Android phone without Google applications.

Introduction or why I want to use Android without Google applications

When it comes to our favorite toys – phones, in today's market there is not too much variety. The choice comes down to Android and iOSwith Android having a large number of sub-versions (depending on the mobile phone manufacturer). Speaking of variety, there are some projects and ideas that are waiting for their opportunity and as soon as it happens, one such device will surely be in my hands :)

What is implied and expected (taken for granted) from one smart Android device? First of all, I would like to point out one process – synchronization! You add your Google account in the settings and from that moment on data is constantly exchanged between your phone and the remote Google server(s). Synchronization itself is not bad, data like contacts, pictures you take, emails, calendar, used applications, you have stored somewhere in the "cloud" and when you change the phone, just add the same account and everything is already there...

The question arises - What are companies, in this case Google, doing with our data?! Part of the answer is hidden in those "Terms of Service" that rarely anyone reads, not even me. The second part can be found in numerous texts, newspaper articles, forums, etc. I don’t want to go into "conspiracy theories", because they are certainly not theories but a reality – Big Brother is constantly watching, following and most important - remembers everything. Privacy has become a luxury, although luxury doesn't guarantee enjoying it.

Let me slowly bring to an end this extensive introduction. So, I want a phone without Google for privacy protection, I want to control my data myself and nothing less important - I can :)

How to remove Google apps

This technical part of the text is not for everyone. You need to know at least a little bit about Android in order to be able to mess "under the hood". One mistake can damage the phone. I know from personal experience - once I fried the phone’s motherboard.For start let me list what is necessary:

  1. Rooted phone (prerequisite to be able to change the phone software);
  2. Rom (phone software) that comes without Google apps installed (recommended LOS).
  3. Own server on the Internet where you will store your’s data;
  4. NextCloud- for synchronizing contacts, calendars, notes ... This software surprises me with its capabilities every day;
  5. A few more apps that are a replacement for the Play Store (recommended fDroid).
  6. You can find support on the XDA Forums;
  7. Patience to get through the transition period (very important!).

The subtitle says "how to remove ..." but I won't go into describing the process itself, I listed what is necessary!

In November, I removed all Google apps from my phone with great excitement. Soon after the excitement came a shock! A short period of adjusting to life without apps from the Play Store was necessary. Suddenly, the huge selection of phone apps has been reduced to only what can be found in the fDroid repos.

I managed to successfully set up synchronization of contacts, calendar and notes with my own server. On server side I needed NextCloud installed and on the phone davX5 app. Basically, davX5 allows synchronization, so you don't have to think about manually transferring data. One tip, on fDroid you can download the app for free, while on the Play Store you have to pay for it ;)

Let’s talk about apps. No Viber, no office suite ... Everything I've used before. Some of these applications can be found on fDroid. I recommend FDroid primarily because it’s open source repo, so seciurity is guaranteed, you can be sure that there is no malicious code that messes with your phone. After a little research, I also discovered an application that allows you to download applications from the Play Store (it is limited only to free ones, because there is no possibility of bying them outside of Play Store). Apps name is Aurora and it has solved the dilemmas about unofficial and anonymous access to the Play Store.

The important thing I have to point out here, after removing Google applications the phone's battery lasts at least by a third longer than before. I now charge my phone once in 2 or 3 days, depending on ussage.

Since I became the owner of my data, found a replacement for Play in the form of fDroid and have а way of unofficial access to Play - Aurora, I cover at least 90% of the needs for mobile apps. I slowly but surely stop using the applications from the Play Store and find open source variants. In the end, I am very satisfied and not thinking about going back, and whoever likes this let know that it is possible and fell free to try :)