Could you live without Google? It might seem like a simple yes, but think about all the different services and devices connected to Google. It’s not so easy to completely cut ties with the tech giant, but it is possible with some compromises.
Why Live Without Google?
Why would you even want to live without Google? You have Gmail, Google Drive, Google search, Android devices, and more. The only problem is Google is a for-profit company. This means to make money, they use all the data you freely give to market to you.
All those searches you perform every day and the data stored in your emails are marketing material for Google. The data’s then used to personalize searches, recommend products, and show you ads. If you’re concerned about online privacy, Google might not exactly be your best friend.
In fact, Google is constantly dealing with privacy complaints. For instance, in 2015, complaints were filed that Google was using Chromebooks, specifically designed for students, to track and collect student data.
In mid-2017, the FTC was asked to investigate claims that Google had gained access to credit and debit card transactions for millions of US customers. The goal was to use the data to improve their ad system.
It’s issues like this that make some people want to live without Google. However, it’s important to remember that many other popular companies track you too, such as Facebook.
Understanding What Google Actually Tracks
You might have heard that Google tracks everything you do online and that’s not far from the truth. However, it’s only when you use Google products and services, or services and products tied to Google.
Surprisingly, Google is fairly transparent when it comes to what the company tracks. They even have a site that lists everything that’s tracked based on categories, such as Things You Do and Things That Make You “You.” As you scroll down the page, you’ll also find details on how Google uses the collected data.
For instance, Google tracks your location to make it easier to find what you need when you bring up Google Maps. Most of the details relate to making services better, such as recommending YouTube videos or making Google Assistant more effective. However, if you’ve ever paid attention to Google ads, you’ll notice they relate to your location and recent searches.
Further down on Google’s explanation page are three ways to better control your privacy while still enjoying Google. Log in to your Google account at any time and go to My Account to adjust privacy settings. Check out all the activity Google’s tracked under My Activity from within your account.
Consequences of Living Google Free
If Google’s list of tracked activities worries you, you have the option to live without Google. Yet, you should be aware that taking Google out of your life does have a few consequences.
For instance, if you have an Android device, you won’t be able to use the Google Play Store anymore. You can also forget about the convenience of Google maps. Of course, there’s also the matter of finding a new email account if you happen to use Gmail. You’ll also have to give up Google Chrome in favor of a new browser, if you use your Google account to use it.
Take a look at all the Google related services you currently use. To go Google free, you’ll have to find alternatives to every single one of them. The good news is, there are alternatives available if you don’t mind making a few compromises.
Related Read: Net Neutrality Explained in Simple Terms
Search Without Being Tracked
The first change you’ll have to make is to pick a new search engine. Google’s become so popular that no one says “search online.” Instead, they just say “Google it.”
Yes, Google is convenient, but you could use a search engine that’s not interested in tracking your every move. Believe it or not, those do exist. The good thing is many of these search engines actually aggregate results from multiple popular search engines, such as Google and Bing, but without the pesky tracking cookies.
A few choices to consider include:
- DuckDuckGo – Cute name, but great results without ads
- Startpage – Focuses on secure searches
- WolframAlpha – Ideal for finding how-tos and performing calculations, not as good for general searches
- Yippy – Works more like Google and includes filters for fine-tuning results, plus you can view cached pages too
- Swisscows – Encrypts searches for additional privacy and includes a data cloud of popular searches and sources
Using Android Gets Harder
If you use an Android device, using it just got a little harder. Naturally, you could go anti-Google completely and choose an iOS device. Without using a Google account on your device, you’ll lose out on:
- Google-only Android apps
- The latest app updates (most alternate app stores receive updates slower)
- Additional security (going outside the Google Play Store comes with security risks)
- Some built-in apps
The good news is many apps, including Google apps, still work without signing in with a Google account. For instance, Gmail works with non-Gmail accounts and you can still use Google Maps by searching for addresses. You’ll need to turn on Location services to track your location, though. You could also use alternative apps for these purposes.
The biggest difference you’ll have to deal with is finding new apps outside of the Google Play Store. You must have a Google account to download apps from the official Google marketplace. You have multiple Google Play Store alternatives to choose from. You should use caution to make sure you’re installing safe apps. Always have anti-virus, like Digital Care AntiVirus Complete, on your device.
Going Open Source
Open source apps and software are the perfect ways to live without Google. For instance, Android itself is an open source operating system, but to take full advantage of that, you’d need to root your phone and install a custom ROM.
Chrome is built upon Chromium, which is an open source browser project. You don’t actually need to use Google to use Chrome. However, you won’t be able to sync your bookmarks between devices.
Open source is an option, but it takes quite a bit of compromise and you’ll miss out on popular apps.
What do you think, can you live without Google?
Related Read: What Your ISP Knows About Your Browsing Habits
Contribution by Crystal Crowder
About the Author
Crystal lives and breathes tech. She’s spent over a decade writing tutorials, reviews, and more on tech, business, and lifestyle sites. Her idea of fun is settling down with the latest tech and gadget news.