How to Get Rid of Google on Your Android Phone

Most Android phones come with Google’s fingerprints all over them. Everything from the app store (Play Store), to the default Internet browser (Chrome), to the email client (Gmail), tie into Google servers in one way or another. Then there’s Google Now which tries to dish out information about things people will be interested in without them having to ask. Fortunately Android is open enough where those of you who are concerned about your privacy, don’t want Google to track you and want to get rid of Google on your Android device can replace just about every single one of these apps. Here are many options you can choose from.

If you’re trying to live a mobile life without Google, the Play Store is the first thing you’re going to want to replace. Doing so will limit which apps you have access to, but it’s the only way to prevent Google from having an account of every app you’ve downloaded. The Amazon Appstore is the most comprehensive alternative, as it contains much of the software that’s available in the Play Store. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s F-Droid.

RemoveGoogleAndroid-FDroid

F-Droid is a repository of apps that qualify as free and open source software. If you happen to own a Galaxy device, you can also turn to Samsung Apps.

The web browser is next on the list of essential changes. Chrome is the default web browser on devices that ship with stock Android, and it’s often included with many devices that don’t. With the latter group, you can just turn to whichever default browser Samsung, HTC, etc. may have supplied. On others, you can install an alternative such as Firefox for Android, Opera, or the Dolphin web browser.

RemoveGoogleAndroid-Dolphin

Android’s Gmail app is considered one of the mobile platform’s advantages over its competitors, but it’s of no use if you’re looking to get out of Google’s ecosystems. Most Android devices come with an alternative already installed. If those don’t meet your needs, consider looking at K-9 Mail, a feature-rich option, or Molto, which is much simpler.

RemoveGoogleAndroid-Molto

Alternatively, you can download Yahoo Mail, Outlook, or other official apps directly.

But what about those contacts? First you’re going to want to tell your phone not to sync them to Google’s servers. But that’s not good enough if you still want the peace of mind that comes with syncing them somewhere. Contacts+ is one app that’s willing to take care of that for you.

RemoveGoogleAndroid-Contacts

Addappt is another option that has the added benefit of automatically updating your information on your contacts’ phones as well, assuming they also use the app.

All of the phones in our pockets are capable of broadcasting our location at any time. This makes the decision of which navigation tool to rely on one of the more important choices to make regarding your privacy. Google stores and uses all of the location data that goes through its servers. For alternative apps, consider NavFree or MapQuest if you’re looking to save money.

RemoveGoogleAndroid-MapQuest

Scout GPS Navigator and Sygic are other available options, though they require more of an investment.

Google Now is one of Google’s latest Android innovations, and while it’s convenient, it fundamentally relies on the company gathering and analyzing data to use. There’s no way to get around that. But if you just want to replace the voice searching portion of the app, that we can do.

RemoveGoogleAndroid-Robin

Available options include Robin and Skyvi. Manufacturers also tend to produce their own options, such as  Samsung S-Voice. These competing apps are better than Google’s Voice Search in some ways and worse in others, so you may have to experiment for a while to find a solution that works for you.

There you have it. Replacing Google on an Android device isn’t the easiest commitment, as it requires giving up on a great deal of the apps available in the Play Store. But that doesn’t mean it’s too difficult. The apps above should get you moving in the right direction in your quest to limit how much Google knows about your life. Feel free to share any other recommendations you have in the comments below.

10 comments

  1. An easier option is just create a fake Google account and use that for everything. This keeps your real info private and also gives google a bunch of bogus data – even better than no data. If more people do this google (and NSA) won’t be able to track real people. Google is really forcing people to do this with all the private info they’re trying to collect on all of us.

    • “An easier option is just create a fake Google account and use that for everything.”
      If it only were that simple! Each phone has a unique identifier. No matter how many fake GOOGLE accounts you set up, they can all be traced back to your phone. A better way is not to have ANY Google accounts.

      Many phones can be tracked by their built-in GPS chips.

  2. Are there really people so paranoid that they really need to do this? I’m far more concerned about the hackers out there than I would be of Google or the NSA tracking me and discovering what brand of coffee I buy!

  3. NSA and Google are the “hackers”…they certify it “ethical” and “legally” track your information by the “consent” warning that no one reads but everyone checks just so they can start using their phone fast. Trust me, I do this for a living.

    Not here to rant though.

    Waze is a great option for traffic/navigation. It gives you actual ETA’s based on traffic. You can send your ETA to people who are waiting and they can open an emailed link or text message to track your drive. It gives you fair warnings of accidents and police on the road. If an accident or traffic is building up on your route, it will change your route and your ETA to give you better timing. I’ve tried it in big cities like Atlanta, Birmingham, Philadelphia (and suburbs), and Washington, DC (and suburbs) so far but also works well in smaller places like Tallahassee, FL, Cairo, GA, and other small country towns.

    Maluuba or Skyvi are great options to Google Now, which doesn’t even work half of the time. Maluuba and Skyvi are more like Siri than they are to Google Now. Google Now creepily tells me when to leave for events that are only in my email or somewhere on my phone in a calendar.

    Cosi is a great calendar option to Google Calendar. You can link things, store and build shopping lists, and share the calendar with others. You can, however, also link Google Calendar to it, if you are so inclined. The only feature that Cosi doesn’t have (that I’ve longed for), is the option to set meetings and invite others from within the calendar. You can only share the information in the calendar with people who also have the account information, which is why it’s best for families and not businesses.

    Contacts+ relies on your Google contacts so using it as a replacement is a farse. It’s just an overlay so you THINK you’re not using Google but you are. Although a great, feature-rich, and user accepted interface design, Go Contacts, is probably your best TRUE replacement.

    • Thanks HkrGrl,
      Yeah, I think the author is well intentioned, but misses the point most folks have with not wanting to use google. It’s the relentless recording and storage of all my actions and all the people in my life in the cloud. It has serious implications for a free society. Many of the solutions in the article seem to be trading one cloud service for another.
      I just got an android phone and am appalled by the lack of control I have over what data is getting passed to the network. It’s a great peice of HW, so I am afraid of losing functionality by flashing to Cyanogen. If you have any more suggestions for locally running apps (especially one’s I don’t have to go to the google play store for) that’d be great.

  4. So I get rid of Google Play to begin, then click the link for Contacts+ and it’s available only via Google Play.

  5. Back to the article title, not a single word on “How to get rid of Google” – you can’t simply delete it from your phone…

Comments are closed.

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