Tag Archives: Android

Leaving Google: calendar edition

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Joe Lanman
One of the challenges I faced in cancelling my Google account was the calendar. The default Android calendar syncs only through a Google account. In the spirit of Project Reclaim, I tried to host a calendar server on my hosting account, but as of yet, I haven’t been able to figure out a way to sync it with a calendar on my phone, other than by interacting with it directly via a mobile web browser, which was awkward at best. What I’ve settled on instead is a combination of dotcal.com and aCal, which is available from the f-Droid repository as well as the Android Market. Dotcal seems to do everything that I used Google calendar for, and aCal syncs with it perfectly. Dotcal does warn that “online calendars may take up to 8 hours to update,” but I haven’t seen any noticeable delay in updating.

Now an RSS reader is the only real hole I have left to plug after closing down my Google account. I’ve been using Newsblur, which I like well enough, but unfortunately, the corresponding Android app, Blar, seems to be available only through the Android Market, which I can’t use because I closed my Google account, which is why I’m using Newsblur now, which is why I want Blar . . . #catch22

Leaving Google: Google voice edition

cc licensed flickr photo shared by Ross LaRocco

I’ve used Google Voice as a voicemail service for awhile because they provide the option to email a transcript of each voicemail (they’re often bad, but usually you can get the gist of the message). I’ve been pulling back from Google, so I went back to regular voicemail from my phone carrier, which went smoothly, except that Google wouldn’t let go of the voicemail button on my phone–no matter what I did, the voicemail icon dialed my Google voice number and not my phone carrier. I could dial “1” or “123” to get voicemail, but the icon was stuck on Google voice. (I know, I know, first world problem.)

To fix it, I had to call tech support for my phone provider, and then had to escalate to level 2 support. There’s an over the air update that’s supposed to reset the voicemail number, but it didn’t work. Eventually, I had to take my SIM card out of my Android phone and put it in a dumbphone to recieve the update. Leaving Google: it”s not always easy.

Life without Google?

cc licensed flickr photo shared by dmixo6

As I’ve said elsewhere, Google’s new privacy policy gives me the creeps. I’m also surprised how much I’ve let my digital identity be subsumed by Google. As a result, I’m considering whether I can get by without Google. Even making an exception for the search engine, it looks like closing out my Google account will be challenging. (To be fair, Google does provide a way to get data out and they do have an option to delete your account.)

Email was relatively easy–I’ve got a hosting account already, so I just added an email account. A few emails to contacts with my new address,¬† and a few hours changing email addresses for online accounts, and I should be free of Gmail well before March 1.

The real challenge is going to be my Android phone. I wiped the user data this weekend and re-flashed the ROM, so that my phone is no longer connected to my Google account. Although Android asks you to login to your Google account at setup, the phone will operate without doing so–at the cost of reduced functionality. The first challenge is apps: you can’t get into the Android Market without logging in to Google. My first mistake was backing up only my paid apps¬† (with Titanium Backup) before reflashing–if I’d flashed them all, I wouldn’t have needed the Market so soon.

I did find several options. First, repositories of open-source Android apps: F-droid had several useful apps, and there’s also A-opensource. Next, alternate app stores: Slide me is one option, but what I’ve used most so far is Amazon’s app store. Sure, now Amazon’s tracking my Android purchases (and their labor policies are pretty atrocious), but they don’t track nearly as much of my data as Google. The Amazon store doesn’t have as many apps as Google’s, but it has a good selection (including K9 mail, which is far superior to the native Android mail app for using IMAP mail, and gStrings).

The next real challenge is a calendar, which I haven’t quite worked out yet.