Tag Archives: data liberation

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.