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    1. Have you tried degoogling your Android?

      In a pursuit of a more privacy-oriented mobile computing I've installed LineageOS ROM on my phone and decided to try living without Google Play Services, which usually provide aGPS (cell tower...

      In a pursuit of a more privacy-oriented mobile computing I've installed LineageOS ROM on my phone and decided to try living without Google Play Services, which usually provide aGPS (cell tower geopositioning), push notifications and lots of other frameworks like Google Maps that apps use as libraries.

      My phone has 4 primary uses:

      • Communicator - mostly Telegram, WhatsApp and Slack. Email of-course.
      • Navigator - GPS and Maps are an irreplaceable tool if you're living in a modern metropolis
      • Internet browser - obviously
      • Music Player - music on the go

      So let's see how you're supposed to tackle each of the uses, while using as much FOSS as possible.

      1. System functionality - both push notifications and aGPS can be solved by microG - fake Google Play Services library. Not sure how it implements push, but aGPS is checked against Mozilla's geolocation database.
      2. Communications - Telegram is available on F-Droid (OSS app store), but everything else is not. The solution here is to use Aurora (Play Store front-end to rip APKs) and install them manually. Push notifications might be broken even with microG (WhatsApp is missing notifications for me, sometimes). AOSP email is fine, K9-mail is ugly but works somewhat better.
      3. Maps and navigation: OpenStreetMap is the obvious choice here and OsmAnd delivers the frontend. It has enough metadata for businesses to get you around, but compared to Google Maps it's can be sometimes lacking and/or out-of-date. Navigation itself is decent, but it's missing timetables for public transportation compared to GMaps, which can be a problem, especially if trains are cancelled or delayed. Overall it's very usable, almost feature complete, but I've found myself falling back to Google Maps in my browser when it comes to using public transport.
      4. Internet browser - Firefox, with uBlock Origin installed (yes, it works on Android) it's really good.
      5. Music Player - there are tons of music players available on F-Droid, you can pick whichever suits your needs. Here I actually stepped away from the FOSS and bought myself a PowerAMP license on developer's website. One of the rare moments where paid Android software is available outside of Play Store.

      Now that the primary use cases are solved, let's try some other useful apps:

      • E-banking? Broken without Google Play, app refuses to even start properly.
      • Bike sharing? Taxi app? Public transport app? Broken without Google Maps libraries for the obvious reason. You might or might not be able to use the browser version, depending on the app.
      • Reddit Relay/any app that requires the license? Okay you've ripped the APK with Aurora, but you can't buy the license to remove the ads.
      • Ebook reader? Nothing good on F-Droid, have to rip something off Aurora.

      Basically you have to be prepared to use your mobile browser a lot. And for some of the sites, do it in a "desktop mode" with tiny text, since the mobile version will just nag you to download the app, that might be broken.

      The takeaway is simple - you give up A LOT of convenience just to cut off Google analytics (which you still might get with apps like Slack). It's certainly usable, don't get me wrong, but I still feel kind of stupid fumbling with OsmAnd when I'm out with my friends and trying to look something up. I'll probably end up going back to the stock ROM, or just installing the Google Apps. For me it was an experiment and I think I've got a general feel on how much information and use I'm actually getting out of GApps.

      So Tildes, have you tried degoogling your phone? How did it go? Are you still using it?

      28 votes
    2. Has DuckDuckGo recently started giving you significantly worse results?

      Over the last week or so, I have been noticing that the majority of my searches in DuckDuckGo have been completely failing. For example, I was searching for a specific Firefox extension api and it...

      Over the last week or so, I have been noticing that the majority of my searches in DuckDuckGo have been completely failing. For example, I was searching for a specific Firefox extension api and it only brings up a list of Firefox extension. If I put the exact same query into Google, the second result is exactly what I wanted. Before this last week, I have being using DDG almost exclusively, but know I am need to add the Google bang before nearly every query. Am I the only person that is having this experience? I really prefer using DDG to Google, but I can't if the results stay this way.

      28 votes