Breaking up with GoogleSaturday, September 23, 2023
We could all live with a little less Google. Think I'm wrong? Try to live without interacting with Google for a day. It's very, very hard. Here are the switches I've made so far:
Mobile OS - Apple iOS
I tend to switch back and forth for phones. My first smartphone was the Samsung Google Pixel phone (in 2011), and then an iPhone 4s, and then an iPhone 6s, and then a Google Pixel 3, and then an iPhone 15. I try to make my phones last as long as I can. I did like the experience that the Google Pixel phone has, but I could not help but feel that Google was mining my data at every turn.
I realize that Apple does collect a lot of data too. But! I feel that they are more transparent about data collection in apps, and much of the other data they collect is anonymized. Siri processing has moved onto the device, whereas when I disable settings for privacy in Google Phones, it cripples the functionality.
Email - ProtonMail, and then, PurelyMail
One of my first switches was in late 2019. I switched to ProtonMail. I picked ProtonMail because they are privacy and security-focused, and they also had a really good sale at the time.
At the same time, I switched to using an email address with my own domain. This way, I can ultimately switch to any email provider, without worry for losing my address. Switching email providers is fairly easy, switching services to a new email address is extremely time consuming.
ProtonMail has some drawbacks. You're pretty much limited to their mobile apps and web interface. They have a connector to work with desktop email apps, but it does not work with all email apps. They're located in Switzerland, which does make for some latency when trying to get things done. They're also very intent on making new services for Calendaring and Drive support. These may eventually become great products, but they only work for narrow use cases.
This year I switched to PurelyMail. This is run by a very small team. The cost is very minimal, and is pretty much made to be used with an email client. It's been nice!
Web Search - DuckDuckGo
The first day switching from Google to DuckDuckGo was hard. You can tell that the results are different. But that's the key word - different. Not necessarily worse. The integrations with social media and other products is not as great. But in exchange, DDG has great shortcuts. As a developer, there are shortcuts to all kinds of other sites - even to perform Google searches.
Web Analytics - Plausible
Plausible is a great analytics platform. It's private by default, and my sites do not need GDPR/Cookies notices. It's drop-dead simple, and it's only $5 a month.
Browser - Firefox
There was a time when Firefox was a huge memory hog. Nowadays Firefox is honestly a little slower, but not noticeably so.
GTD List - Todoist
I didn't use Keep or Tasks much, but Todoist has transformed my life. Without it, I would not get things done. It reminds me of all my house maintenance things and of my daily job tasks.
Drive, Calendar, Contacts - NextCloud
Reader - Feedly
Google reader got discontinued and then RSS became a thing of the past. But for a while, I used Feedly. it works really well!
Google Chat - Signal
Things I wish I had alternatives to:
- Maps - If you're on a computer with just a browser, it's hard to avoid Google maps.
- Drive - I've replaced most with NextCloud, but I can't share my NextCloud with people to collaborate on an assignment or document. A federated NextCloud? I don't know how I could fix this.
- Photos - I can backup photos elsewhere, but Google Photos has facial recognition that auto-shares my photos with my wife and family. It would be hard to give that up.