De-Googlification - To detach yourself from "Google's grip" on your Web life.

My quest leads me to Android and Google Plus.  This one should be easy too.

android_logo_2014
Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

After getting off to an easy start, my next goal is to replace the Android ROM on my Moto E2.  My stock Android ROM is Lolliop(5.1) which comes with a huge bundle of Google Services.  Everything on the device is so well knit together that you instantly get comfortable with it and never want to let go.  Instant access to a plethora of apps through the Play Store, periodically receiving weather updates, keeping me updated with the latest happenings in the technology world and real-time updates of my favorite football team. The setup was perfect!

However, although all of this enjoyable and convenient, I still need to get rid of it to protect my privacy which brings me to CyanogenMod.  I downloaded the stable release and followed the installation process from the CyanogenMod wiki.  The installation didn’t take long and was fairly simple.  Fortunately, as I’m using Fedora on my laptop, the tools required to flash the ROM – adb and fastboot – were easily available through the official repository.  CyanogenMod OS is an aftermarket OS which provides a host of customization options and other features which are not provided by official Android based firmwares of vendors.  Moreover, CyanogenMod is free of Google services* and is completely open source.  Perfect replacement!

But wait a minute…. how do I install apps?  With CyanogenMod, Google’s apps are gone which means Google Play Store is gone.  Well, for geeks like me, there are alternatives to Google Play Store too.  Enter F-Droid and Aptoide.  Both of these stores are open source but cater to different needs.  F-Droid only provides Free and Open Source Android apps which means I can get open source apps from there.  For the proprietary apps like Slack, Twitter and mobile shopping, Aptoide serves me well.

Unfortunately, there is a small drawback to this strategy.  Many proprietary apps including the ones I mentioned above rely on Google Services Framework.  This means that some apps will work while others won’t.  For example, games like Clash of Clans and secure messengers like Signal won’t work at all.

EDIT (13TH MARCH 2017) - Today I discovered that Signal now doesn't need Google Services Framework to run. So now I can use Signal on my CyanogenMod device. God bless Open whisper Systems.

But apps like Slack and a few others will work with a slight compromise on usability (manual checking of updates, periodically, is required as notifications are not provided).

As I switched to DuckDuckGo, I was hoping to find an alternative to Google Search bar on my device and god bless DuckDuckGo for providing one.

The only service I now miss is contact sync.  I’ve restored my contacts from the local backup I performed before installing CyanogenMod but I need to find an alternative soon.  Using ownCloud to setup a private cloud is definitely not an option for me as I don’t have the necessary resources.

Finally, with mixed feelings I’ve managed to completely remove Google from my mobile.  Meanwhile, I also discontinued Google Plus which wasn’t much of a concern.

Two more items to cross off of my list!

Service Status
Google Search Gone
Android Gone
Google Plus Gone
Gmail In progress
Google Docs Still Here
Google Drive In progress
Google Maps Still Here
YouTube Still Here

3 down. 5 to go.

 

*Although CyanogenMod is free of Google Services, one can always flash an additional file to install them.  See Google Apps – CyanogenMod.

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5 thoughts on “De-Googlification : Part 2

    1. Signal uses Google Services Framework for more than just updating the app. It uses Google Cloud Messaging which although does not actually transmit anything, but is required for Signal to function. Now because my device doesn’t have GSF installed, Signal will not work at all. There is an alternative called LibreSignal which is a fork of Signal but without GSF, but it was discontinued after the lead developer of Signal wasn’t okay with LibreSignal using OWS’s servers.

      So basically building the app myself is not really an option at the moment. I’ll have to wait until someone comes up with an alternative to using GCM on Signal.

      Like

      1. Well as mentioned in the above signal doesn’t use google cloud messaging to send messages! but just uses a empty notification for the app to wake up, so IMO signal app will work but you may miss out the notifications, but if you open signal (manually by clicking it) then it should connect to the signals servers and fetch your messages for you. This is a inconvenience that you have to face if you want to remove google from your life! So signal should even if you don’t install GSF.

        Like

      2. I’m facing that inconvenience with a couple of other apps like Twitter and Slack. However, I’m completely okay with it as I mentioned in the post. With Signal, it’s a different story. The app compulsorily needs GSF to run. It shows the “requires Google Play Services to run” dialogue and a provides a button to “Get Google Play Services”. No further actions can be performed.

        Liked by 1 person

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