Going No GAPPs

Getting Rid of Google Apps/Services from Your Handhelds


Blogs like “I removed Facebook app for increased productivity” are quite popular nowadays. But have you ever thought of getting rid of Google & Google Apps from your mobile? If yes, and have succeeded then Congratulations!!, you are already a hero! :)

TL;DR

I have been using my device without Google Apps for about 2 months now. 
Results are amazing. Fast and responsive device, longer battery life (1+ hour more), safe and privacy maintained. I am happy that I decided to go No GAPPs. 
Really, No GAPPs = Profit.

I would like to thank the No GAPPs group in telegram for all the resources and support provided.

Detailed Article

I was always quite irritated about the (over)smartness of google apps in my devices. They provided functions not necessary for me and also consumed huge amount of mobile resource. But the most frustrating thing for me was Google’s invasion of my privacy. Handhelds are bit different than Laptops/Desktops in the sense that they stay with me 99% of the day, and the thing that it was keeping track of almost all my activities is something I do not approve. Yes, you can call me Paranoid!.

A short history on handhelds that I carried:

  1. LG KG 110, candybar style.(2007)
  2. Some Chinese set (K899) without any hint of smartness in it.(2010)
  3. Nokia E-72 (2011-2013) -> This was my first smart phone, and I loved it. I chose it over blackberry and iPhone during its days.
  4. Nokia N900 (2012-present)-> Oh my, how people who know about it envy my carrying this phone. :)
  5. Geeksphone Keon (2013-2014) -> One of the earliest Firefox OS phones.
  6. OnePlus One (2015-2016) with Cyanogenmod & Cyanogenmod based ROMs
  7. OnePlus 3 (2016-) with Resurrection Remix

As you can see, my first android phone was OnePlus One, but it was not my first android device, I had a Ceros Revolution tablet before that, which ran Android Kitkat. And a Android TV Stick, Tronsmart mk908II. Both of them also came with Rockchip RK3188 and 2GB RAM.

So, when I started using OPO with CM11 in it, it came with full GAPPs, 80% of which I never used. One day I came across http://myactivity.google.com which shows all the stuffs google has gathered from you, including your location, search terms and even parts of your normal conversations. Thankfully, I had only search terms and a few voices during the starting days of “Ok Google”. So far so good, but still it was creepy. They do provide us option of deleting the data, but who knows….

After I learnt how to flash custom ROMs in my device, I started flashing the pico version of GAPPs which came with just Google Play Services and Play Store. I needed the Play Store because downloading apps form Play Store was really fast in Nepal because of the cache servers. So, just for that I used to install GAPPs pico. At least 95% of other privacy invading Google Services were no longer in my device. Also, I always had Privacy Guard that cam with custom ROMS active all the time. I also never used Facebook apps, opted out of viber and other services’ anonymous data collection, location turned off almost always. But these methods still are not complete, because if required They can always track you with Mobile Carrier from what I heard. Who knows what things they collect from us and what evil stuffs they do with our data.

Another Google App I had to depend on was the official Gmail app. I signed up with gmail in 2009 when I had no idea about the evilness of Google. I regret it so much, and the fact that I still cannot migrate completely from Gmail is really frustrating. :(

http://www.thewsjblogger.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/google_privacy.jpg Pic Credit: Wall Street Journal


Start of No GAPPs

One day I saw a telegram group No GAPPs and joined it with curiosity. With around 100-125 people, the group had lots of information on how to liberate your android device from Google Apps. I stayed and kept on reading the discussions and almost all the resource materials provided in that group for about a month, and finally decided to go No GAPPs. I downloaded the lates Resurrectoin Remix M for OnePlus 3, installed it and didn’t follow the installation with flashing of GAPPs. Weird feel.

I had to install a good browser (Firefox), as I didn’t like the Gello Browser, but how do I install it as I didn’t have a Play Store! Thankfully F-Droid, app store for open source application, was there. I downloaded and installed F-Droid the first thing. After that I started searching for Open Source alternatives for my favourite apps as far as I could. But what about closed source and required apps like Viber and my favourite Nova Launcher? I was in dilemma whether I should completely leave those apps too or not. From the group I learnt that if I can find them from official source or trusted source then I can install those if required. So, I started to install those applications from their official websites or trusted market place as suggested by them.


Challenges with No GAPPs

1. Contact Syncing

The first challenge I faced was syncing contacts. Actually, this was one thing that was really preventing me from going NoGAPPs. Damn, it was easy with Google Account, it just restored my contacts as soon as I log-in. One genius person introduced me to Baikal DAV Server. Thanks to him, I was able to go NoGAPPs within few days after that.

2. Gmail Tabs

The official Gmail app was able to just display messages in my Primary tab and not Promotions, Updates, Forums and Social. But the default Email App shows everything. I had trouble in the beginning and was really tempted to install the official Gmail app, but didn’t. After a week or so, it was bearable and I also developed habit of unsubscribing from unnecessary updates and newsletters. :)


Report after 2 Months

I am very happy and kind of feel great that I was able to go No GAPPs when in this era Google is the tech giant and innovating new stuffs and all my friends are busy applausing the innovatoins made my Google wanting to try those innovations ASAP. And here I was, stepping back from Google each and every day. Yes, I do need to use google as search engine and youtube to watch videos, but I am able to do it without logging in, it doesn’t matter whether it gives me personalized results or not.

I have noticed my phone performance significantly better than when GAPPs was there, and I used the pico version. I don’t even know how it feels to have the full GAPPs continuously running in the background and consuming your system resources.

I have also notices more than one hour of increase in battery life. Previously, I used to get 5 hours of Screen On Time, and 1.5 days of stand-by time. Now I have at least 6 hours of Screen On Time if used continuously. And 3-4 days of stand-by time.

Another thing I would like to add is that I have started to value my privacy even more. Previously also I used to care, but still used to let go of stuffs like searching stuffs in google, writing notes in Google Keep, because I used to think I have those apps in my mobile so they can get some of my details no matter what so I will keep on using those services everywhere. But now, I have become more concerned and searching for alternatives that honour your privacy all the time.

And finally, my device has more Open Source apps than closed source ones. Thanks to F-Droid!!


Some of alternative (Mostly Open Source) Apps that I use now are:

S.N Type App Name Open Source
1. Instant Messaging Telegram Client: Yes, Server: No
2. Browser Mozilla Firefox Yes
3. Youtube Client New Pipe Yes
4. File Manager Amaze Yes
5. File Manager2 FX File Manager No
6. Contact Manager DAV Droid Client & Self Hosted Baikal Server Yes
7. App Store F-Droid Yes
8. File Synchronization Syncthing Yes
9. MediaPlayer VLC Yes
10. Manga Reader Mi Mange Nu Yes
11. Expense Tracker My Expenses Yes
12. Note (Google Keep) Omni Notes Yes
13. Terminal Client Termux Yes
14. Flappy Bird Flappy Bird No
15. Ad Blocker AdAway Yes
16. App Store 2 Aptoide Yalp Store No Yes
17. Facebook Face Slim Yes
18. Icon Theme Min No
19. Launcher Nova Launcher No
20. Network Scanner Port Authority Yes
21. Reddit Reddit Slide No Yes
22. Maps Maps.me Yes
23. Twitter Tinfoil for Twitter Yes
24. Email K-9 Yes
25. SMS Silence Yes
26. Music Player Phonograph Yes

Final Words

I thank the No GAPPs telegram group very much for providing all the required informations, resources and encouragements to go NoGAPPs. If you also want to try NoGAPPs then join the group, discuss with people there, everybody is helpful. If you are concerned with your privacy, your phone performance & battery life then you should definitely try No GAPPs. You will see the difference yourself.

Getting rid of Google Apps from Mobile doesn’t mean you need to completely boycott google from your life. Yes, it is quite difficult to avoid google from our daily life today. Liberating your device and gaining control can be one of the few possible methods of protecting your privacy from Google.

comments powered by Disqus