Matt Stenson

This is the personal site of Matt Stenson. I'm a programmer, nerd, mountain biker, dirt biker and outdoors enthusiest. I'll blog about different stuff here. I like open software and privacy focused tools.

Unplugging My Phone

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I recently dropped my phone… and cracked it really good. I’m cheap when it comes to tech and I’d rather be buying dirt bikes and mountain bikes. So, much to my wife’s dismay I continued to hobble my phone along. Since I knew my phone was not long for this world I figured I would do an experiment: Take my phone, install Lineage OS and not install any Google, Facebook or Amazon Services on it and see how annoying it was or wasn’t to use.

This would mean, no Play store, no YouTube app, no Google Maps, no Instagram, no Google Play services, no Amazon shopping, no Prime Music and on and on and on. I quickly realized I used almost no independent apps on my phone. This would be interesting.

Finding apps

After installing Lineage on my Moto x4, which was actually pretty painless, I needed some way to find some apps. The default mail client is fine, and I’m still using it now. But beyond that an Android phone without Google is pretty bare bones. First step, a good browser. Thankfully Android can actually run a real version of Firefox. Firefox is my desktop browser and it’s also my choice mobile. Installing Firefox was as easy as heading over to https://getfirefox.com downloading an APK and installing it.

A number of web apps work great and I’ll be covering how I’m using some apps on the web in later posts. However, some apps really do need to live on your phone. So the next step was to install fDroid. A FOSS app store for Android. This would prove to be the launching off point for most of my other app installs.

Choosing Apps

As I chose alternatives to install here’s the general mental model that a followed:

  1. Is there a web app that works? If so, use that.
  2. Is there a open source app available in the fDroid app store that seems well maintained that would work for this? If so, use that.
  3. Is there a open source app that is available as an APK or can be compiled that works for my purpose? If so, use that.
  4. Use Aurora to get stuff from the play store, but without Google services.

More to Come

I’ll be following up this post with details on how I have filled the holes left by leaving the mega-corps behind on my phone. Check back for details on this experiment.