Using Android Without Google: Is /e/ The Ultimate DeGoogled Experience?

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Nick at The Linux Experiment takes an /e/ smartphone for a spin in an attempt to see what using Android without Google is like. His conclusion is that the experience blew him away.

Using an Android smartphone or iPhone means that large chunks of user data is synchronised and milked for advertising purposes. It is a large amount of data. Both platforms milk your private data, but Android is the greater culprit, because Google depends on your data for its massive advertising empire.

Samsung Galaxy S7 is one of the refurbished smartphones with /e/OS
Samsung Galaxy S7 is one of the refurbished smartphones with /e/OS

For context, iOS syncs 6MB of your private data per day, while Android OS syncs 12MB. Both mobile operating systems are always-on, always-syncing private data.

The idea of using Android without Google is based on the premise that most of the data syncing that google does happens through Google Mobile Services and apps. So, if you can get your hands on an Android smartphone that has those Goofle components removed, you are pretty much shielded from most of the data mining.

The /e/ Foundation has been working on this for a while and has had its deGoogled Android available and shipping. Nick got to use it on a Samsung Galaxy S9+ and shares his experience.

using Android without Google review

What Is Is Like Using Android Without Google: The /e/ OS Experience

Nick says /e/ OS has all the bells and whistles from Android and, visually, is very inspired by iOS. He says it is “a very pleasant system to use”, though many bits look like a dated version of Android. He also notes that the pre-installed apps do not provide a coherent user experience, because they are a collection from different developers.

Of course, there are a few minor bugs present in the operating system, but that it is the only OS that is completely deGoogled such that there is absolutely no Google left in it. Nick also notes that if you want to use Gmail on /e/ OS, you can, with a few tweaks.

Nick says he likes the experience so much that he is tempted to pay for the review device, which was sent in by the /e/ Foundation, instead of returning it.

Using Android Without Google: The /e/ Project User Review

Nick’s review is available on Invidious, as well as on YouTube. The YouTube video is embedded below.

I am a great fan of the idea of using a de-Googled smartphone. That is, a smartphone that does not invade the user’s privacy the way Google does. Yes; I am solidly behind the idea of using Android without Google. I would prefer to even use a de-Googled non-Android smartphone, which is why I was such a great advocate and fan of Windows Phone and later Windows 10 Mobile. However, Microsoft’s mobile OS is a thing of the past and we have only two widely avaible smartphone options now – Android OS and iOS.

The /e/ Project is an interesting attempt to provide a software that gives everyday users freedom from Google’s constant tracking and privacy invasions, without denying them access to many of the other apps they love. I have followed the /e/ Project for a while and already have an /e/ account set up from about a year ago. I am yet to get my hands on an /e/ smartphone though, as it has to be shipped in.

 

Seeing as the current crop of Huawei smartphones do not ship with Google Mobile Services and apps (such as Play Store, Gmail, Google Calendar, Youtube, Google Maps, Google Photos, Google Voice, Google Hangouts, Android Auto), I wondered if they do not qualify as deGoogled Android devices.

It is certain that those Google-free Huawei smartphones do not sync and siphon as much user data back to Google the way regular Android smartphones do. This is because all the core Google services and apps are absent. However, there are still bits and pieces of Google code in Android AOSP. /e/ OS gets rid of those. I intend to get my hands on one of these Google-free Huawei phones soon, same way I intend to pick up an /e/ smartphone as well.

What are your thoughts on the /e/ Foundation, /e/ OS, and the idea of using Android without Google in general? Is this something you can use as a primary driver, or would you rather stay in Google’s matrix and keep on living with all the privacy issues?

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