An Android without Google

So you want to use Android without Google? You fool, it’s like using email without the Internet.

In this article I will provide a short guide how to escape from Google’s reign over your Android device. Those instructions are based on my own choices, you can skip parts you don’t feel comfortable with…

Install new Rom

  1. If your device is in this list, install Replicant
  2. If it’s not in this list, install Cyanogenmod without flashing the Google apps

Other alternatives: OmniROM

Install F-Droid

  1. Open https://f-droid.org on your phone and download the F-Droid APK

I want to use apps only available on Google Play!

You could use the unofficial Python API (there are some working forks) or APK Downloader or BlankStore from NOGAPPS project.

Install ownCloud

  1. Get a virtual server
  2. Install Debian stable and ownCloud using their official Debian repository

App Matrix

Select required applications from this table.

Use case Apps
Calendar sync CalDAV-Sync, Davdroid, or CalDAV Sync Adapter
Adressbook sync CardDAV-Sync, Davdroid
ToDo sync CalDAV-Sync with Tasks, experimental version of Davdroid, Mirakel
File exchange Install ownCloud app for WebDAV integration
RSS Reader witd sync Install News Reader plugin in ownCloud and ownCloud News Reader for Android
Offline calendar Calendars which never sync: Offline Calendar
Birthdays Birthdays are missing in your calendar? Insert birthdays and other events into your contacts (which are synced) and install Birthday Adapter
Password sync Install ownCloud app for WebDAV integration and KeePassDroid. Create a new password database and sync it occasionally using the ownCloud app to your WebDAV directory. This format can be opened on desktop computers with KeePassX
Block advertisements and analytic services Install AdAway
Emailing Setup your own email server or register an email account at Posteo and install K9Mail
Email Security EXPERIMENTAL SOFTWARE (K9Mail integration is in development!): Install OpenPGP Keychain

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Comments

  • daithib8

    And dont forget to install Adaway, to dodge Google ads and analytics (see elsewhere on this site) ;-)

    For email, I would say to use the K-9 app; the email client in Android 4.4 looks like Gmail but seems quite buggy. Generally it looks like Google is careful to maintain core Android i.e. non-Google apps— as it should, if it is to maintain control in future.

    Since a few months CyanogenMod sends statistics via Google Analytics. They can be turned off. I’ve always noticed since years a constant connection to Google via System (and keychain I think) when viewing internet connections (like netstat) in OS Monitor app, but maybe its harmless. Anyway,I’ll be looking at OmniROM for my next phone.

  • Dominik

    @daithib8: Thanks for your comment!
    I updated and prettified the table ;)

    Also awaiting OmniROM, hoping for some progress in more free Rom development…

  • daithib8

    Thanks for your reply (for which I didn’t get any email); I’m still (embarassingly) using gmail for email and local backups for my other stuff since my phone is primary computer. Posteo.de looks nice, has a green angle, also does caldav/carddav, but it looks like German-language only. I looked at Mykolab already and saw that’s it’s expensive enough for a just a small inbox. Installing owncloud Debian on a VPS would probably be easy, but I’m not sure how easy it is to maintain an email server and I’d like to be able to find (and recommend to my friends) a hosted service that can do email, contacts and maybe files since there is nice integration of remote file systems in Android 4.4. ownCloud does Ampache (JustPlayer for that and another Phone gap app), too so I’m tempted to get one for music alone, but to make that worthwhile I’d probably have to settle on it for a few years. I’ve heard people like to use Norway or Iceland because of the law, so that’s another consideration.

  • daithib8

    There’s another password manager that has been around a long time and has some sync features: https://f-droid.org/forums/topic/password-manager.

    I know there are some WebDAV things built in to keepass already and it would be nice if Keepassdroid could offer that itself; there is a keepass app already that does it but it’s for the Xamarin SDK: https://f-droid.org/forums/topic/keepass2android.

    Pageturner would seem to be a nice alternative to Google Books for power-readers.

    It’s hard e use (discounting startpage.com) is YouTube and since video watching in the browser is unreliable, I use both YouTube downloader and
    https://f-droid.org/forums/topic/netmbuddy.

  • daithib8

    Oops, I pressed Submit before fixing last paragraph. Just some stuff about YouTube.

    I did a search for email+owncloud and found owncube.com. The base price for 20GB storage is €1.50 a month: at that price I could sell that to my friends, who are not likely to be interested in $20 a month Linode VPS. There are a dozen more at

  • daithib8

    Sorry, the input box is tricky. You can find many providers at http://owncloud.com/partner . Including Norway-based owndrive.com which does a 1GB gratis account.

  • Dominik

    I also noticed that I (as the admin) don’t get emails from my WordPress installation. Need to figure out the problem… So much to do, so little time ;)

    It would probably help to write two guides. One for sophisticated users, who are willing to invest into their own server) and one for normal people.
    I mentioned posteo.de because I really like their service and they haven’t vanished after some years (like many other companies), but have to admit that I don’t use it, because they don’t support your own domains. But as email servers are hard to install and manage I am currently using domainfactory.de managed mail, which is not the perfect solution, but serves as a good tradeoff between security/privacy and ease of use.

  • Daniel

    Hmm – how to install the “BlankStore” from xda ?

    The Installation Instructions there are very poor …
    After installing the .apk i got the BlankStore icon.
    But when i click on that, the upcomming window shuts down immediatelly.
    And how do i use the generated Android ID ?

  • Dominik

    @Daniel: Better ask MaR-V-iN directly on his thread on xda-developers if problems occur.

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