How to un-Google your Android smartphone

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Google is at the heart of every Android smartphone. An Android device comes bundled with a bunch of Google’s cloud services, to get you started. However, in the past few years as Android has evolved our dependence on its services have also increased.

Today, most people use Gmail for their emails, Google Suite for their docs and spreadsheets, the Play store for their app and among all these services there are two constants — one being that they’re created by Google, and secondly, they are synced with your Gmail account.

Google is also learning your traits using its Google Play Services, and it shows you content you’d be interested in on the Play Store. This surely sounds like a good thing; however, this also means that the brand is looking into all that you do with your phone or browse for, on your phone, which also sounds creepy.

So, if you want to get rid of Google keeping a track of your device, here’s how you can remove Google’s omnipresence from your digital life. However, you’ll have to keep in mind that the moment you remove these services, you won’t be able to use the Play Store to download apps.

That at being said, don’t worry, we’ve got a few third-party app stores to somewhat compensate for it. We’ll get to that later. For now, let’s work on getting rid of Google.

Disabling Apps

Google apps come pre-installed on a smartphone, and unlike other apps, you cannot uninstall them like. The only way you can turn a preloaded app off is by disabling them. Go to Settings> Apps and manually look for all the Google Apps and disable it. All apps might get disabled, except one — Google Search.

Rooting your smartphone is another option which will result in the deletion of all the apps. However, this is not only a tricky process but will also void your warranty. We recommend the easier solution, but if you’re not afraid of taking chances with your phone then root away!

Adding Apps

With all Google Apps disabled, you’ll need a bunch of alternatives to get work done. But the very first app that you’ll need is an app store to get apps from. Since Play Store is already disabled, you’ll have to look towards alternatives. Some of these stores will also provide access to some popular apps.

· 9Apps

9Apps is a third party app store that offers many popular apps to choose from. It has apps like WhatsApp, and Hike and a bunch of other apps which are available on the Play Store. 9Apps is your closest alternative to apps available on the Play Store.

· Amazon App Store

If you want to get new apps but you’re scared of trusting app vendors, and you’re looking for quality apps, you can download Amazon’s App Store on your device. This App store is the same one as on Amazon’s Fire devices. It is home to some of the most popular apps made by some well-renowned developers. It’s also known for some incredible deals. Often paid apps will be heavily discounted or offered for free.

· F-Droid

F-Droid is an open-source app store for Android devices. The app store is home to numerous apps in the market, however very few in the library are popular. This is because the app store brings in apps from new developers across the globe. The app store also has a material design interface which makes it look aesthetically pleasing. If you’re looking to try some new apps and experiment with them, F-Droid is the store you’re looking for.

In the case, these app stores don’t deliver then you can always download the app directly from your browser and install it on your device.

Just search for the name of the app, and end the search with ‘apk download’ and you’re good to go.

If, after downloading an app, the device isn’t allowing you to install the app on your phone, then you just need to change the security settings. Go to Settings> Then Security> and under Security enable ‘Unknown Sources’. This will allow you to install apps from other sources apart from the Play Store.

Alternative Apps

We’ve selected a few alternatives that you could use to replace Google’s stock apps you’ve disabled. If you’re using a smartphone from OEM’s like LG, Samsung and other Chinese smartphone makers, chances are you would already have a bunch of alternatives added to your list. However, if in some case you’re a Nexus or a Moto user with near-stock Android experience, here are a bunch of apps that you can consider for your day-to-day use.

· Outlook for mobile

Outlook is one of the best email clients to go for, today. It is even better than Gmail for Android. Outlook gets a seamless inbox management with a focused inbox that displays your most important messages first, swipe gestures and smart filters. The app also gets easy access to calendar and files right from your inbox. Moreover, the app comes with Word, Excel and PowerPoint integrations. It supports service providers like Gmail, Yahoo and of course, Office 365; but it also has added support for IMAP and POP3. The outlook for Android is available on 9Apps

· PowerAMP music player

PowerAMP is by far, one of the best music players to go for, on Android. The player gets a fluid UI with a bunch of interesting features that makes this player stand out of the crowd. The player gets 10 bands optimized graphical equalizer for all supported formats, presets, custom presets along with separate powerful Bass and Treble adjustment. The player also supports gapless playback. Moreover, you can customise the user interface with a bunch of themes from the store to make it look cooler. The app is free for a trial of 15 days, the post which it is priced at $4.99, but it surely is worth every penny.

· Navigation: OsmAnd

This is one of the best navigation apps in the market right now after Google Maps. It’s available on Amazon’s App Store, so it isn’t very difficult to get your hands on. The app isn’t the best looking, but it delivers accurate navigation. Moreover, to get a better user experience, pair the app with AddressToGPS for recognising street addresses more accurately.

· Search Engine and Browser: duckduckgo

This search engine is known to respect the privacy of its users and doesn’t track them. Moreover, the search engine also has a browser for Android, which you can either download before you go off-Google or simply download the apk file from a website later.

Drawbacks for going off-Google

One of the biggest drawbacks of taking Google out of your Android smartphone is security. Yes, it is understandable that with Google keeping an eye on everything you do is affecting your privacy but when you choose to get apps from third-party App developers or are directly loading apk files for apps, the chances of malware entering your phone are higher.

Another drawback is obviously the ecosystem. You’ve used Android for a while now, and it is really convenient to see all your files and data synced on to one Gmail account, and by simply signing in, you can get the same data on any other device that you switch to. With the elimination of Google services, switching devices will be a task. Additionally, you’ll need to manually backup all your files instead of auto-backup on Google Drive, which can be a pain.

At the end of it all, you need to ask yourself, whether you really need that amount of privacy to un-Google your smartphone. And if you really do, these methods would surely come in handy!

Posted by Shubham ;)

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