Android Without* Google?

Posted on November 4, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 147 Comments

A big part of Android’s appeal is that you can customize it to your needs and preferences. Incredibly, this includes the ability to exorcize its maker from the system to a degree that isn’t possible on iPhone.

No, you can’t fully remove Google from your Android handset. (That explains the asterisk in the title.) But you can minimize your exposure to the firm’s apps and services. And to its tracking of your activities as well.

To be clear, I don’t necessarily advocate doing this, and I certainly don’t do this myself: There are some Google apps and services that I find to be indispensable, key components of my mobile experience. And that’s true whether I’m on Android, as I am now, or using an iPhone. Google Maps is a great example, but there are many others.

That said, I do understand where Google’s critics are coming from, and why one might not trust this company.

But for those of us of a Microsoft bent, it’s even worse. The mobile world has evolved in such a way that there is no obvious answer. Both Apple and Google, and the mobile platforms they spawned, can be problematic for the Microsoft user for any number of reason.

I’m not personally interested in the two extremes here. I don’t feel that blindly trusting Google is smart. But I also don’t think that completely removing Google from your life is particularly smart either. Surely there’s a balance.

But that’s just me, and the degree to which you de-Google your Android handset is up to you, of course. So let’s discuss the ways in which one might do this. From the obvious—changing default apps, and things like your home screen (launcher), assistant, keyboard, and so on. To the less obvious. For example, what might one do to minimize Google’s tracking?

Some of this is familiar to me, obviously. I do spend a lot of time researching what’s possible here. But I also need your help. What I’m looking for specifically is the types of changes you’d like to make to Android. And any tips you may have about your own configurations.

I’m thinking this could turn into an interesting series over time, something that can be useful as a reference going forward. So I’ll start with the basics. And move forward based on feedback.

So let me know what you think, please.


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