Google is a household name.
We all know it. We all use it. And most of us can’t imagine living without it.
But let’s face it—they’re not actually letting you use their products for free – you’re paying for it with your privacy.
Here’s what that means.
Google is tracking and recording your online activity—even when you’re not logged in to your account!—in order to build user profiles they use to make billions of dollars in advertising.
Now, if you want to take back some of the control over your online privacy and user data, you can either ignore/delete your Google account, use privacy tools, such as a good VPN service or try these alternatives to Google’s products and services:
- Matomo, Google Analytics alternative. Most websites host Google Analytics because they also run Adsense campaigns and need to track its performance. But website analytics is about keeping your pulse on what your readers want for you to remain competitive and relevant. Matomo, (formerly Piwik), is a user-friendly, open-source analytics platform with a host of extensive and customizable features, such as log analytics, 100% data ownership and certified user privacy protection.
- OpenStreetMap, OsmAnd, and Here WeGo, Google Maps alternatives – Finding directions and getting to your destination is easy with any of these open-source, mobile and PC-compatible mapping solutions. Like Google Maps, these apps provide you with directions for any mode of transportation, tips for parking, gas stations, etc. They also have an offline mode that allows you to save data.
- F-Droid and Yalp Store, Google Play Store alternative – F-Droid is an installable catalog of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) applications for the Android platform. After installing F-Droid, download the Yalp Store, which allows you to download apps from the Google Play Store directly as APK files. By default, Yalp Store connects to Google services using a built-in account, so you do not have to own a Google account to use it.
- Nova Launcher, Google Launcher alternative – One of the top and most customizable Android launcher in the market, Nova Launcher offers a host of cool features not present in Google Launcher. It supports gestures, notification count and badges, folders, night mode and backup, widget overlap, desktop lock, and icon themes. You can also change the size of icons and the space between them.
- Business Calendar 2 and aCalendar, Google Calendar alternatives – Already featured under Google Play Store Editor’s Choice list, Business Calendar 2 offers multiple views, global weather forecast, color options for organization and syncs with Google Calendar. aCAlendar from TAPIRapps, on the other hand, offers QR and NFC barcode sharing of events outside of the usual calendar features; integrates with Google Calendar; and best of all, respects your privacy.
- StartPage and Searx, Google Search alternatives – Google is synonymous with “search,” but not with privacy. Google’s search engine records your IP address, search terms, user agent, and often a unique identifier, which is why you see ads following you online wherever you go. StartPage (originally called IXQuick) gets you Google search results, but with more privacy. It doesn’t log user data or share any information with third parties. It also gives you advanced filtering options and the ability to search for pictures and video. Searx is an open source metasearch engine that gathers results from other search engines while respecting user privacy. A great aspect of Searx is that it is customizable: You can modify exactly what search engines Searx pulls results from and narrow-down results with different categories.
- Firefox Browser and Tor Browser, Google Chrome alternatives – Chrome is the most popular browser, but it lacks privacy, extensions for Android and eats up memory. The latest version of Firefox released by Mozilla uses 30% less memory than Chrome and offers upgraded performance, support for extensions and privacy options. Tor Browser is pre-configured to protect your anonymity so there’s no need for add-ons or extensions. However, this hard-wired security will break many of the websites you visit, thanks to NoScript.
- Dropbox and One Drive, Google Drive alternatives – Dropbox is probably top-of-mind when it comes to cloud storage. It is the most organized file sharing software and offers security controls, multiple file types and search. Microsoft’s OneDrive offers a clean design and user-friendly tools where you can open and save OneDrive files in Office apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Look before you leap.
Although Google may sound like a devious character in the data game, they’re still Google and that carries a lot of weight.
For example, the huge majority of apps being developed by companies revolve around the use of different Google services. Also, the online help and information you get that are a byproduct of Google’s data collection and sharing might be benefitting you in your daily routine—and you don’t even know it.
So, without massive support for and from communities that works with open-source, Google will continue to dominate the online search and services market.
And put the squeeze on your online privacy.