Replacements, Alternatives to Google Products and Services
Google’s products (e.g. the Android operating system) and services (search engine, YouTube, Google Mail, etc.) aggregate user data on a massive scale. This data is used to present users with a personalized experience, or in other words, a filter bubble of search results and targeted advertising. There is an obvious potential for abuse, but it’s more subtle than that.
This “filter bubble” not only exploits our tastes, experiences, behaviours, biases and turn them into revenue, it also blocks everyone from having some "neutral" (or common) vision of what exists over the internet, therefore reinforcing biases and polarizations. Furthermore, it manipulates people into habitual use of their products. Just try to observe yourself when you are bored or depressed: Can you resist the compulsion to visit YouTube for that instant reward?
This opaque capacity to influence what people may or may not see (besides the anti-competitive behaviour it represents when the same company owns the advertisement market) is overall an immense political power we cannot tolerate nor let unaccounted for. It silently puts Google and other companies above the law. Remember: Any profit-oriented business is only as lawful and ethical as it needs to be in order to avoid prosecution. It’s a calculated risk. The line needs to be drawn by us, the consumers.
The fact that it is hard for most people to escape Google’s grasp itself is worrying. Hence, this page is used to gather alternatives to Google products and services which respect user privacy.
It is though dangerous to think in terms of "alternatives", like the goal was to reach equivalence to what Google offers (and risk to always lag behind). In reality what we want is *better* services than the ones of Google, because they would rest on *better* principles, such as decentralization/distribution of services, end-to-end encryption, uncompromising free/libre software, etc.
While presenting these "alternatives" or "replacements" here, we must keep in mind that the true goal is to achieve proper distribution/decentralization of information and communication, and empower people to understand and control where their information goes.
Existing Resources and Guides
"Alternatives to Google Products – the Complete List" (2018) - Most exhaustive and accurate
A more generic guide about privacy and tools: https://www.privacytools.io/
Self-hosting (running one's own services on one own's server) may be the one-and-only way -on a political and on a technological perspective- to get rid of centralized services and some other potential sources of eavesdropping. Self-hosting is not accessible to everyone, as it requires some resources and experience to set-up (yet everyone has a potential to start learning it). Yet, pretty much the same way you do not have to learn to become a farmer before getting fruits and vegetables grown in a fair and respectful way, self-hosting is often practiced in a mutualized way: to the scale of a bunch of friends, of a collective, a company, a university, a city... or a neighborhood?
An amazing list of free/libre software for self-hosting: https://github.com/Kickball/awesome-selfhosted/blob/master/README.md
Meta-search engine, free/libre software. Just one instance of many: https://search.fuckoffgoogle.net (also https://searx.dk https://search.disroot.org etc.) Full list of instances: https://github.com/asciimoo/searx/wiki/Searx-instances
An open source web and enterprise search engine and spider/crawler. This is a fork of Gigablast with news features and a powerful interface. (centralized, and very strange, irrelevant results...)
An open source web and enterprise search engine and spider/crawler.
Centralized, US company.
Open source, privacy-focused search run by a non-profit NGO.
Very good email provider. 1 Euro per month, no spam, no bullshit, just email. Posteo is based in Berlin and has a political agenda in regards to privacy protection. So they have encrypted servers and so on.
Very good email provider. 1 Euro per month, no spam, no bullshit, just email. Mailbox is based in Germany and has a political agenda in regards to privacy protection. So they have encrypted servers and so on.
End-to-end encrypted email based in Switzerland. No logging. Complete anonymity. Open source and funded by the community, not ads. The free account offers 500MB storage and 150 emails per day. Paid plans are also available.
Full disk encryption, personally encrypted email storage and many more fantastic features. Donate as you see fit for usage and apply for an account. High quality provider.
Mobile Operating Systems
Wichever OS you choose to install, don't install GAPPS!
The most popular community distribution of Google's Android operating system. Using Lineage, it is possible to have a fully-functional android phone without all of the integration with google services that android ordinarily entails. Many LineageOS users choose to install things that will interact with Google services, but it is not necessary to do so.
Android without any proprietary crap. Replicant is similar to Lineage in that it is a distribution of Android, but has a much stronger dedication to the principles of free (libre) software. In practice, this means that it doesn't work on nearly as many device models and that some drivers are missing (GPU, Wifi, Bluetooth, etc.). It is an interesting project to help demonstrate how much Android relies on proprietary software to function, to debunk Google's myth that "Android is Free/libre software". Please note, you can order Replicant ready phones, shipped to anywhere, from the brilliant Resist.Berlin.
Partially open source, developed by Finnish company Jolla and the Sailfish OS community. Licensed devices come with a (proprietary) Android compatibility layer as a stop-gap solution to the relatively small amount of native apps. Though it contains many proprietary parts, the community has ported the OS to a variety of existing devices beyond those sold by Jolla.
GApps alternative / MicroG
microG GmsCore is a free and open implementation of the Google Play Services Framework. It allows applications calling proprietary Google APIs to run on AOSP-based ROMs like Replicant and LineageOS. Acting as a replacement for the closed-source Google Apps (GAPPS), it is a powerful tool to reclaim your privacy while enjoying Android core features.
PureOS — Privacy-focused operating system and mobile phone currently in development. Several choices for UI and software. Phone will have a CPU that is separated from the baseband processor, and will have hardware kill switches for radios, microphone, camera, etc.
postmarketOS (pmOS), is a touch-optimized, pre-configured Alpine Linux that can be installed on smartphones and other mobile devices. The project is at very early stages of development and is not usable for most people yet, but it does have initial support for many different devices and seems to have considerable development momentum. They are "aiming for a 10 year life-cycle for smartphones".
F-Droid is an installable catalogue of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) applications for the Android platform. The client makes it easy to browse, install, and keep track of updates on your device. It can be used to replace Google Play store.
Better Alternative to google maps. Global Mobile Map Viewing and Navigation for Online and Offline OSM Maps
Sync your contacts, calendars and tasks
It's just so much better than Google Maps! You can edit the map yourself and add roads, houses or stores. Whatever you find relevant.
For comparison to Google Maps: http://tools.geofabrik.de/mc/
For routing: https://graphhopper.com/maps/
Download OpenStreetMap-Data: http://download.geofabrik.de/
Integrate OpenStreetMap in your website (Wordpress): https://wordpress.org/plugins/osm/
Giving Google a list of all the places you go not only help them profile your income and your habits, but it also enables them to target advertisement to you (according to where you may go) or predict your next moves. These data are invaluable for instance for insurance or transport companies to whom google may sell them. Geolocation data stored in Google servers, could potentially be used to incriminate people (you *were* at this protest, weren't you? You were not sick at home that day? etc.)
OpenStreetMap is entirely non-profit and contributive. With it people can (re)appropriate the map and the territory, and invent new uses for it (like disaster recovery in Haïti that abundantly used OSM). Inhabitants of small, isolated places can together get to much better cartography than what is of Google's financial interests. Data from OSM can be reused in each and every possible way, with no licensing conditions subjected to further changes.
Replaces GoogleDrive. You can host it yourself or trust one of the community providers. You can use it on Linux, Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.
It is mainly for sharing and syncing files, but can do more. There are many apps to extend it, e.g. collaborative writing with Collabora.
Docs and Sheets
For collaborative text editing.
If you have your email account at mailbox, you also have a browser based office suite included.
Use LibreOffice on the website directly.
The installed program LibreOffice can open and save documents directly from servers (ssh, ftp), WebDAV and so on.
Run an online office suite on your own server. Can be used within an ownCloud.
Using Google's sheets and docs for your organizing is literally storing all your data with them complete with edit history of all collaborators.
Helpful Browser-Plugins for Firefox
Privacy Badger: It prevents cookies and trackers that spy on your browsing behaviour. You can choose which trackers are allowed to track you and which ones are not. For example, it is recommended to deactivate all Trackers by Google (e.G. Google Analytics) and by Facebook (share buttons and so on)
User Agent Switcher: This Addon will fake your browser randomly. So after a few minutes it switches browser and operating system. At least it seams like that for websites you are presently surfing on. This makes it very hard for websites to track you according the information you give them in connection to your browser and your operating system.
Google's business model is based on selling YOUR personal and private data. It's called data mining and is a malicious business model!
The Chrome Browser has several tracking functionalities that spy on user browsing behaviour: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Chrome#User_tracking
Google also connects data generated from the Google browser with other personal data it has gathered with other Google services.
Yet, Firefox is *far* from being perfect: Firefox without extensions is as vulnerable to data-harvesting as any other browser. Management of cookies is really cumbersome, and they are accepted by default. Also by default are accepted ads, cross-site scripting and all these features of "modern" web that makes tracking easy. + Mozilla boasts about defending people's privacy when in reality they didn't do much to change anything about this (Isn't Google even still their default search engine, after years of collecting their money?), as for their implicit acceptance of DRM in HTML5...
Displays the day's headlines and gives both source links and Wikipedia articles for context. It is hand-curated rather than automatic, which means it's quite low volume.
Very similar to Google News. It is a news search engine with a homepage that displays the most viewed content by topic and person mentioned. You can pin searches to the top of your dashboard without needing to sign up for an account. Available in German, Spanish, Dutch, and English.
A customizable dashboard of tech news headlines, organized by outlet. With an account, you can choose which sources are omitted from the dashboard, and blacklist keywords.
Scrapes the Wikipedia current events portal for new links, and displays them on the site.
Has news RSS app you can self-host to build your own Google News alternative.
A hackable version of Zapier/IFTTT that can be connected to APIs like DuckDuckGo and Twitter to listen for a keyword and send you alerts when that keyword is mentioned on the platform. [Here https://blog.andrewcantino.com/blog/2014/03/17/know-when-the-world-changes-with-huginn/] is a guide on setting up a self-hosted alert monitor with the tool.
A self-hosted feed aggregator which is theoretically extensible to listen for keywords within your added feeds. Possible to hack together your own version of Google Alerts by adding a lot of active feeds and writing your own plugin. Will take work, not ideal.
Works MUCH better than Google Translate, and is accessible via Tor.
A globe like Google Earth but with multiple maps you can choose from. For example historic maps, OpenStreetMap. You can even change the globe to moon or Venus or other planets. Great piece of software!
- Google Earth is a closed source software
- Google Earth collects data about what people search and combines this information with the general personal-data-database
Google+ is a social network by Google. It is a competitor to Facebook or LinkedIn. All of these services make money from personal user data.
A decentralized social network. Open Source. Works perfectly. Compatible with Friendica.
A decentralized social network. Open Source. Works perfectly. Compatible with Diaspora.
A decentralized social network. Open Source. Works perfectly.
A decentralized social network with an active user base spread out over many instances. Open Source. Works perfectly.
Hubzilla is a powerful platform for creating interconnected websites featuring a decentralized identity, communications, and permissions framework built using common webserver technology.
It federates with Mastodon, Diaspora, Gnu Social and friendica.