For those of you who know me in real life, you are probably aware that I have been trying divorce myself from google and trying to regain some privacy.1 I deleted my google account, probably several years ago2 by now. People do complain from time to time about why I'm not on this service or that service and how they are supposed to communicate with me.

No google account, but still have android

I've not had a google account for several years, but I still have an android phone. "How does that work?", you ask. It does and works quite well, depending on what you want out of a smart phone. Obviously, you no longer have access to google's play store or any of the other google services. I have found f-droid to have all the apps I need. I try to only use free software3 as I've learned not to really trust proprietary software. No way to know what information is collected nor where it is sent. I have not been able to find a way to remove a google account from an android phone once it has been configured. A factory reset and skipping all the google account setup does work.

If you don't have a google account, why have an android phone? I suppose such is a valid question. I would try to do without a phone at all. The spousal unit would not hear of that. I think $WORK would frown on such an idea also. I simulated a test run of a basic phone4. I was not happy. I found I missed email.

Android without Google

How do I setup my android phone without a google account?

  1. Factory reset.
  2. Skip signing in with google account.
  3. Disable all apps that are not needed.
    • Phone will complain about disabling apps in the rom.
    • Don't disable the browser yet.
  4. Enable side loading
  5. Download and install f-droid apk
  6. Disable browser
  7. Install apps from f-droid
    • icecatmobile -- privacy enhanced build of firefox
    • k-9 mail -- email client
    • OpenKeychain -- gnupg client
  8. Configure other privacy settings to taste

What do I miss?

Now that I have an android phone with no google account, what do I miss? Mostly maps. I have not yet found a reasonable replacement. If I need to go somewhere and need help with navigation, I enable maps, turn on location. I am not aware of anything better. Please let me know in the comments if you have ideas. I'm not willing to buy a Garmin. Last time I checked it required Windows to be able to update software and maps.

  1. I know, you're thinking, "If you are concerned about privacy, why do run a blog and write personal stuff on the internet?". These are not mutually exclusive. It's more about control. There are some things I want to share with the world, there are some I do not. It should be my choice, not Google's, Amazon's, any of my other service providers, not my health care provider, not my vehicle. All of these entities let me know what information they collect from me and how they share it, none give me the ability to opt out completely. ↩

  2. I should probably pay more attention to my life. ;) ↩

  3. I actually prefer software licensed under a strong copy-left license. ↩

  4. Not real sure basic or feature phones are still supported by any carrier (at least in the US). ↩