Going Google-less: How to install a custom Android ROM with no Google apps or services

Going Google-less: How to install a custom Android ROM with no Google apps or services

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Understandably, some folks are desirous to are living their digital lives with as dinky Google as likely, and are engrossing to breeze to slightly in depth efforts to get the advertising and marketing juggernaut off all of their varied gadgets. On Android, this can demonstrate hard: nearly no smartphone on sale correct ships Google-free, and of folks that invent, there are serious feature gaps to clutch into consideration, amongst other things. Enter microG, a capacity to gash your reliance on Google’s apps, advertising and marketing, and tracking by the dispute of a de-Googled customized ROM. We are going to demonstrate you what you’d like to, solutions on how to get it station up, and what you’ve got to grab about the dispute of it.

I myself accept that there may be continually going to be some inherent privateness change-off if you happen to’re the dispute of an incredibly beneficial, continually-connected cell tool powered by an advert company, but I’m alive to to glimpse if there may be at the least a capacity to exhaust the advert company from the equation (Apple telephones are no longer inherently greater, both). It is most certainly restful no longer likely to breeze fully open source on Android, though which you’ll maybe be elated to be taught that or no longer it’s likely to gash your dependency on singular recordsdata aggregators treasure Google.

To breeze fully Google-much less on your phone, it’s essential set up a personalized ROM that supports microG. Reckoning on your tool, that is a roughly concerned project. You are going to lose all recordsdata kept on your phone in the project, so be decided that you have backups. In case you maintain a mistake, which you’ll maybe find yourself with a completely bricked, unusable paperweight, so please double- and triple-take a look at what you are doing, be taught via all directions sooner than you open the project, and be decided that you realize.

While you couldn’t treasure Google as an organization, it restful has to follow privateness regulations. That isn’t very any longer correct for open-source ROMs most certainly created by unsuitable actors going after your recordsdata. LineageOS and microG desires to be sufficiently glimpse-managed, but there may be not any snarl. Be aware that which you’ll maybe continually drop for any individual shady if you happen to’re tinkering along with your tool, and that the ache is increased the extra obscure the ROM you exhaust out is.

Receive an acceptable ROM

With a dinky bit work, any customized ROM can bolt on microG, but there are more easy and extra hard solutions looking out on your preferences and LineageOS make stronger to your tool.

microG’s LineageOS builds

The excellent solution is the dispute of the ROM offered by the microG developers: They provide a personalized model of LineageOS that incorporates microG out of the box. However, most efficient gadgets officially supported by LineageOS are on this list, so if you’re the dispute of a phone treasure any contemporary Pixel, it’s essential breeze one other route.

Head to microG’s obtain put and predict in case your phone is amongst those supported (search Google for “[your phone] code title” to maintain sense of the objects on the positioning). For installation directions, breeze to LineageOS’ wiki and gaze your handset.

The dispute of this direction, you received’t need to set up microG one by one; it comes with the ROM. You are going to furthermore uncover F-Droid pre-installed, the marketplace for all kinds of free and open source (FOSS) Android apps. As adverse to that, LineageOS is left untouched and involves the all thoughtful Android enhancements the ROM is famous and loved for.

Other ROMs

In case your phone isn’t very any longer on microG’s list, things get a dinky bit extra delicate. As acknowledged in the box above, be extra careful about choosing an unknown ROM — in general, bigger gamers treasure LineageOS are extra glimpse-managed than others. On microG’s net page, which you’ll maybe uncover a tiny sequence of other advised ROMs.

If you buckle down and do the installation project, skip installing any Gapps kit and as an quite just a few flash NanoDroid (directions) on your phone after the ROM, which is able to clutch care of getting microG working. In case your ROM would not make stronger signature spoofing, which allows microG to pretend or no longer it’s Play Products and companies, NanoDroid will furthermore patch the machine to augment that.

Many ROM developers deactivate signature spoofing for security reasons, since an app pretending to be one other app can most certainly wreak havoc to your phone. In case you fastidiously display functions you set up, that mustn’t be a mission, though. It is furthermore likely that spoofing isn’t very any longer too broadly exploited for hacking in the wild since most efficient a tiny, largely instructed attack demographic exists.

There are already many articles on the market explaining solutions on how to set up customized ROMs, and for the reason that project differs somewhat for every, you are greater off relating to the directions that lengthen with the customized tool you find yourself choosing. For a extra general and easy-to-be taught recordsdata, take a look at out How-To Geek’s astounding customized ROM installation article.

Individually, I counsel LineageOS because it supports a plethora of telephones and is basically stable when put next with other choices on the market.

Region up microG

Now that you have obtained your ROM installed and ready to make dispute of, it’s essential jump via about a extra hoops sooner than the total lot is made up our minds.

Peek the microG app on your phone and open it. Up high, there could be a Setup fragment with a Self-Take a look at. Faucet it, and you’ll predict a checklist of compulsory gains. Most of the bins desires to be ticked already, but it’s essential get the ideal ones working so you can fully revel on your phone.

Receive the Machine -> battery optimization entry and faucet it, then resolve Enable. This may flip off battery optimization for microG so that it may bolt in the background without restrictions — otherwise, apps relying on the provider may misbehave.

To maintain blueprint apps and others that rely upon your location work, breeze away the Self-Take a look at fragment of the app and breeze to Configuration -> UnifiedNlp Settings. In there, you’ve got to configure network-essentially based geolocation and take care of search for, which appears to be like extra delicate than it’s: Factual take a look at the bins next to the respective companies and products.

You would merely take a look at the box on every surroundings to maintain location-essentially based functions work.

After that, your total bins in the self-take a look at fragment desires to be ticked, and you desires to be all station to make dispute of your phone. However, some apps may require one portion of Google tool that microG can’t emulate: Google’s Firebase Cloud Messaging, the corporate’s push notification provider. To dispute it, you’ll furthermore obtain to enable Google’s tool registration. That is the one fragment of Google you would desire to enable in on your Google-free ROM. The staunch recordsdata is that many apps produce no longer want the provider in any admire (e.g., Signal and Telegram), so you couldn’t obtain to urged it finally.

As a minimal you can manually alter the GCM settings in microG via the overflow menu on the tip correct.

Means points

Forgoing Play Products and companies comes with about a caveats: For one, your contacts, SMS, and energy recordsdata received’t be backed up to Google’s server, so be decided that you save or sync them to a location out of doors of your phone. For one other, there could be a total list of microG bugs and points on Github, essentially the most important ones being no Chromecast make stronger, no Wear OS make stronger, and no geofencing — but since we’re making an strive to prevent some distance flung from Google apps right here, the principle two mustn’t be too problematic.

Google apps replacements

Avoiding Google apps formula defending off the Google Play Retailer. Thus, you received’t be ready to make dispute of paid Play Retailer apps or get entry to in-app purchases. If you are looking out out for open-source tool, it makes sense to limit yourself to the alternate app distributor F-Droid, which helps you to flip on computerized updates. If you are looking out out for extra frequent, industrial apps, take a look at out our own APK Mirror. We can’t push tool updates to your phone, though we offer a Pushbullet provider that informs you when we add contemporary releases. That you just can furthermore see into the Amazon App Retailer, but I produce no longer think replacing one giant conglomerate (Google) with one other (Amazon) is the true solution for this recordsdata.

The fundamentals: Phone, Messaging, Contacts, and rather a lot of others.

Most customized ROMs already reach with pre-installed phone, messaging, and contacts apps, so you received’t obtain to trouble an excessive amount of about finding replacements for these. In many ROMs, these apps are fragment of the Android Delivery Supply Venture (AOSP) and obtain been developed by Google, but their code is open source. Thus, you are technically restful the dispute of a Google product, but it no doubt would not reach with the identical baggage.

If you are taking care of some extra developed or extra aesthetically ravishing apps, take a look at out QKSMS for messaging (APK Mirror, F-Droid), Delivery Contacts (F-Droid), or Straightforward Mobile Instruments.


The excellent accurate quite just a few to a Google browser on Android is Firefox. All other browsers are in defending with Google’s open-source Chromium net rendering engine. That makes them technically independent from Google as an organization, but you are restful the dispute of tool at the least in fragment created and directed by Google.

The most up-to-date beta model of the upcoming contemporary model of Firefox (Firefox Preview) already feels slightly stable and could be a much competitor to Chrome once it reaches stable. On my microG machine, I did not bolt into any points the dispute of it as my default browser. You would furthermore are attempting Chromium-essentially based industrial picks Vivaldi, Samsung Internet, and Microsoft Edge.


In case you’d like a sturdy, industrial provider to your emails, Outlook is a in fact perfect quite just a few to Gmail. For sure, there are furthermore FOSS apps that can replace proprietary tool. FairEmail is amongst about a advised choices and goes out of its formula to supply protection to your privateness by most efficient loading relevant facets of mails, most certainly defending off tracking pixels and other formula of following you spherical on your inbox.


Google Maps is arguably the gold frequent of navigation, but there are other choices — looking out on your desires, which you’ll maybe be greater suited with a closed-source application than an open-source one, though. Citymapper and Moovit are correct picks if you’re looking out out for public transit navigation in bigger cities, and which you’ll maybe be effectively geared up along with your native transport agency’s solution, too, looking out on the put which you’ll maybe be living. On the open-source entrance, we counsel OsmAnd, Maps.me, and Axet Maps, all constructed on the community mission OpenStreetMap.

Cloud storage

My most neatly-liked cloud storage is Microsoft OneDrive, but surprisingly ample, that is basically the most efficient app that straight out refuses to work on my microG get. It directly crashes upon startup, even after manually allowing it to be taught the file machine. Dropbox works correct elegant, though.

If you are looking out out for an open-source mission, Nextcloud (APK Mirror, F-Droid) is amongst the greater choices. It lets you exhaust out your individual cyber net hosting provider or your individual server, but clutch into consideration that there could be a motive why there are paid cloud storage choices on the market — it’s essential video display for attacks yourself, withhold your server up to this point, and pay your ISP some extra cash to get rapidly add speeds.

We furthermore serene some extra open-source picks to Pressure in a roundup.


You would replicate about a of Google Photograph’s unique backup gains with one other cloud provider, but you received’t uncover a platform that intelligently varieties your photography and tags your friends, family, and pets as reliably as Google’s machine studying algorithms. That stated, if you’re looking out out for a easy gallery app, Francisco Franco’s Focal point Skedaddle is a succesful, light-weight quite just a few to no topic pre-installed solution you uncover on your ROM, and if you’re taking care of one thing extra succesful, F-Cease desires to be your breeze-to application.

We obtain furthermore rounded up about a extra portray apps.

Notes and textual state material editing

If you are looking out out for an all-spherical quite just a few to Google Abet, you produce no longer need to see additional than the free Simplenote, dropped at you by Automattic, the corporate in the abet of WordPress and WordPress.org. It gains markdown make stronger and synchronizes across desktop, cell, and net functions. Many folks even dispute it as a textual state material editor. Unlike OneDrive, Observe is furthermore fully purposeful on this Android get and, personally, superior to Google Docs.

There are furthermore some open-source picks for Abet.

Google would not obtain a social network of its own anymore, but you are most certainly restful alive to to grab if any third-celebration choices work on the microG get. My breeze-to social networks Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit bolt without any concerns, and Facebook and its Messenger are furthermore effectively-behaved. Due to this of the dearth of the Play Retailer and thus get entry to to in-app purchases, I couldn’t dispute my most neatly-liked Reddit client Sync advert-free, but there are furthermore fully free and open-source functions on the market treasure Scurry (F-Droid, APK Mirror) that which you’ll maybe revel in additional than Sync.

Song and Podcasts

Even handed one of essentially the most engrossing audio gamers on the market occurs to be on F-Droid, so I will be able to wholeheartedly counsel checking out Phonograph (F-Droid, APK Mirror) in its place to no topic pre-installed tune app you beforehand had on your phone. If you are a Spotify subscriber, I’m sorry to uncover you that the streaming provider isn’t very any longer on the market out of doors of the Play Retailer on Android. You would desire to change to an quite just a few treasure Deezer or Tidal.

While Pocket Casts isn’t very in actuality downloadable out of doors the Play Retailer, the open-source AntennaPod is (F-Droid, APK Mirror). Its player fetch may be due for a refresh, but as adverse to that, it appears to be like treasure a elegant quite just a few to many proprietary choices.


There isn’t very in actuality any replacement for the noteworthy network of state material creators that is YouTube, but other streaming companies and products work with dinky to no points. Netflix (APK Mirror) directly runs smoothly on my get, though to get Amazon Top Video, you would desire to acquire the Amazon Appstore first. You would safely uninstall it when you’ve got obtained the streaming provider.

I overlooked Chromecast make stronger dearly, but for the reason that Solid protocol is a proprietary Google skills, it makes sense that microG would not make stronger it. I may restful get entry to all of my streaming companies and products on the giant display via my Playstation, so or no longer it’s merely a decided solution.

Password Manager

Selecting a password supervisor for this get became once a easy feat for me since I already rely upon an open-source solution: Bitwarden. Its F-Droid variant comes without Google’s push provider and is fully open source, but you can furthermore get the regular model from APK Mirror. In case you’ve got relied on Chrome for password syncing, I will be able to most efficient counsel you to change to one other solution — otherwise, unsuitable actors obtain get entry to to all of your logins in case your Google account will get hacked.


For the length of this take a look at, I spotted how fond I’ve grown of Gboard. The pre-installed AOSP keyboard is slightly fair like it, but it no doubt lacks some extra developed gains treasure converse dictation and swipe to delete. I restful found it k to make dispute of, and there may be continually SwiftKey, Fleksy, or — if you’re feeling in particular adventurous — Typewise.


For the length of my experiment, I did not bolt into any accurate deal-breaking points. Sure, no longer gaining access to Google apps hasn’t made my job more easy, and a non-purposeful Spotify may be extra than an annoyance for many, but I became once shocked by how effectively Slack, Twitter, Telegram, Citymapper, Firefox, and others labored without regular Google Play Products and companies.

The apps that lengthen with a recent set up of Lineage OS microG.

I produce no longer think I may’ve long gone fully open source, though — I rely upon Slack for work, and judging from my detours with open-source navigation apps, I’m going to be much happier with Citymapper. It is restful refreshing to glimpse that you would be in a position to diversify who presents your tool.

In 2020, it stays absorbing to breeze Google-free on Android, but those that are in actuality obsessed with staying some distance flung from the search company can get extra than fundamental functionality out of their gadgets. Within the future of this experiment, I’ve realized that I would no longer even are desirous to lose get entry to to many Google companies and products. I found myself lacking fundamental things treasure convenient contact sync and extra developed gains fair like tool backups and products treasure YouTube, Google Maps, and extra.

My colleague Corbin takes a more in-depth see at a in fact perfect quite just a few of open-source picks to Google apps on Android, so if you would treasure to seek out extra FOSS apps, head right here. If you are looking out out for a more easy formula to exhaust Google from your existence, clutch into consideration an iPhone, but clutch into consideration that you’ll correct change one giant tech company for one other.