If you’re interested in using Android but don’t want all the Googly-ness of it, there are ways to go completely Google-free. With the right set of tools, you can have a truly open Android experience.
Why Would You Want to Do This?
Here’s the thing: for most people, Google is what makes Android good. Google services, Google Play, and constant sync with your Gmail account are some of the most valuable things in Android.
But a lot of people take issue with Google knowing that much about how they use their phones, so the thought of an Android device just doesn’t work for them. If you find yourself liking the idea of Android but would rather not have the Google part of things, then a Google-stripped Android phone might be a good solution for you.
Of course, this requires some tinkering. You can’t just strip Google from any existing phone. You’ll be removing the Google-fied operating system that shipped on the phone and replacing it with an alternative—and some phones are better for that than others.
What You’ll Need to Give this A Go
The first thing you’ll need is a the right Android phone. This will require wiping the phone and flashing a custom ROM, so you’ll want a phone that has good ROM support. Something with an unlocked bootloader—like anything from the Nexus line of old—or a good workaround for custom ROMs will fit the bill nicely.
Otherwise, you’ll need a custom ROM. We tested this using LineageOS—it has excellent device support and is frequently updated. If you’ve never used Lineage before, we have a handy guide to get you started with the installation.
The Fun Stuff: How to Use Android Without Google
For testing, we’re using Lineage OS installed on a Nexus 6. Right out of the box, the set up experience is pretty straightforward—just tap through and you’re ready to go. Since there’s no Google services on the device, there’s nothing to sign in to.
But that’s also where the first question comes into play: how do you get apps? With no Play Store, it’s an empty system with no ecosystem whatsoever. The good news is that since Android is open, there…
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