• Edit
  • Delete

Guide: Android without Google Account / Debloat

This guides describes how to setup an android smartphone or tablet with as little google connections as possible.
We'll use as much free (open source) apps as possible from F-Droid apps store. The remaing apps can be downloaded from Google Play Store via the free "Aurora" store app.
As replacement for the Google account we'll use Nextcloud for cloud storage, contacts, calendar and notes.
The installation of Nextcloud Server is out of scope for this guide.

Prerequisites

We assume a factory new smartphone with Android 8 or 9.

If you want to convert your existing device, you have to perform a factory reset first:

  • Backup as much data as possible from your old smartphone:
    Guide: https://www.ullright.org/ullWiki/show/android-backup-guide
  • Perform a factory reset on your phone. WARNING: ALL YOUR DATA WILL BE LOST!
    Go to Settings -> System -> Reset Options -> Erase all data (factory reset) -> Reset phone

Initial Smartphone Setup

Power up your new (or reset) smartphone.

!!! Generally say no to all possible checkboxes and questions (location, usage reports, ...) !!!

  • Select language
  • Connect to wlan
  • DO NOT LOGIN WITH YOUR GOOGLE ACCOUNT!

Alternative App Stores

Without google account, we cannot use Google Play store.

We'll use as much free (open source) apps as possible from F-Droid, and for the rest we download from Google Play Store via the "Aurora" app. Note that payed apps are a problem and not easily usable.

F-Droid

  • Download F-Droid
    • Open browser (Chrome) and search for "F-Droid"
    • Download fdroid.apk
    • Open it and allow installation of .apk app via Chrome
  • Open F-Droid app
  • Refresh package sources by pulling down with your finger on the screen
  • Search for apps and install

Essential Apps

  • Amaze File Browser
  • DAVx (Sync of Contacts and Calendar)
  • Etar (Calendar)
    • Show start time
    • show location
  • Todo Agenda (Calendar Widget)
    • Multiline Title
    • Small font size
  • K9 Mail
    • Settings -> Global -> Use combined inbox
  • LibreOffice Viewer (Office file viewer)
  • MuPDF viewer (PDF)
  • Music (Music player)
  • Nextcloud
    • Got to Nextcloud web interface -> My Account -> Security -> Create app token for device -> Show QR-code for mobile
    • Start Nextcloud app -> use QR-code function and photograph QR-code
  • Nextcloud Notes
  • Nextcloud Passwords
  • Privacy Browser
    • First, we set useful, but restrictive default privacy settings. Got to Settings ->
      • Javascript - yes
      • First party cookies - yes
      • DOM store - yes
      • User Agent: Chrome on android
      • Do not track: yes
      • Search: StartPage
      • Fullscreen: yes
      • Startpage: https://startpage.com
      • Font size: 125%
      • Delete everything: no (very annoying)
        • Delete cookies: no
        • Delete DOM storage: no
        • Delete cache: no
    • Than if an app does not work as expected you can reduce the restrictions.
      Tap on the three dots at the top right corner and select "Edit domain settings"
      • Disabler Adblocker: disable "EasyList"
      • Facebook+Messenger work fine with Agent "Chromium on Linux"
      • Youtube works with Agent "Chrome on Android"
  • Send Reduced (Downsize images for emailing etc)
  • Aurora Store (Access to Google Play Store Apps)

Other Useful Apps

  • Audio Recorder
  • BRouter (Offline Navigation)
  • Osmand (Map and Navigation)
  • Osmand Countour Lines
  • ConnectBot (SSH Client)
  • KeePassDroid (Password Safe)
  • NewPipe (Youtube Replacement)
  • SatStat (GPS and Cell Information)
  • Termux (Android Console)

Aurora Store

Note: the previous alternative apps store "yalp" is "dead" and won't be updated.

Aurora store is an alternative frontend to Google Play Store. It allows to download apps from Play Store without a google account. Note that this violates the Google terms of service.

  • Open Aurora Store app
  • Authorize for app (apk) installation
  • Check for updates

Example apps for Vienna/Austria I use:

  • EVVA Airkey
  • ÖBB (Austrian trains)
  • Sag's Wien
  • VOR Anachb
  • WienMobil (Vienna public transport tickets)

Direct Download

 

Uninstall or DisableUnwanted Apps / Bloatware

Usually we have many unwanted apps on factory new smartphones. Most of these apps cannot be uninstalled, but they can be disabled so they don't take up display space, or drain your battery.

Disable Apps

  • Open the app menu/list
  • Tap on an unwanted app and hold the finger down until a menu appears, then choose "deactivate" or if not available tap the "i" symbol and then "deactivate". If deactivation is not possible see below "Deactivate stubborn apps via adb".
  • Pull down the top bar and click the tooth wheel
  • Apps & Notification
  • Show all xxx apps

List of apps to disable

This are of course my personal preferences.

  • Google (Google search)
  • Chrome
  • Gmail
  • YouTube
  • Google Drive
  • Play Music
  • Play Movies and Series
  • Docs, Spreadsheets, Presentations
  • Duo
  • Photos
  • Calendar
  • E-Mail
  • Facebook
  • Spotify
  • AVG Antivirus
  • Amazon Shopping
  • Amazon Kindle

Sony Apps

  • Movie Creator
  • Lounge
  • 3D Creator

Some more apps can be accessd via Settings -> Apps -> All Appy -> Installed Apps

  • Facebook App Manager
  • Facebook App Installer

Stubborn Apps that can not be disabled (e.g Sony, see solution below)

  • Xperia Assist
  • What's new
  • Support

Disable stubborn Apps via ADB

This is an advanced topic which needs the Android Debug Bridge (adb).

Helpers

  • Sometimes the native android app name is very different from the name used on the phone.
    Example: Sony's "What's new" app is actually called "com.sonymobile.entrance".

    Use this app to find the native android app name: F-Droid -> install "apps_Packages Info Updated A" app

Usage of adb package manager

Make sure "adb" ist installed, and can connect to your phone as described in the guide above.

  • adb shell
    • Connects to your phone an let's you enter subsequent commands

Useful Package Manager Commands:

  • pm list packages
    • List all packages
  • pm list packages | grep 'sony'
    • List of packages, search by word
  • pm list packages -d
    • List deactivated packages
  • pm disable-user package.name
    • Disables an app. Note: I do not recomment to uninstall packages (pm uninstall -k --user 0 package.name). If you accidentally uninstall a package you have to perform a factory reset to get it back... :-(
  • pm enable package.name

Apps not to disable !!!

  • com.google.android.keyboard (Keyboard!!!)
  • com.sonymobile.home (Launcher)
  • com.google.android.apps.messaging (SMS)

Disable Sony Bloatware

  • pm disable-user com.sonymobile.support
  • pm disable-user com.sonymobile.assist
  • pm disable-user com.sonymobile.assist.persistent
  • pm disable-user com.sonymobile.entrance
    • "What's new"
  • pm disable-user com.sonymobile.xperiatransfermobile
  • pm disable-user com.sonymobile.intelligent.iengine
    pm disable-user com.sonymobile.indeviceintelligence
    • Xperia intelligence engine ?
  • pm disable-user com.sonymobile.xperialounge.services
    • ?
  • pm disable-user com.sonymobile.xperiaservices
    • ?
  • NO: com.sonymobile.home (Launcher, Sony Home)

 

Work in in Progress

Automate app disabling

  • echo '#!/bin/bas' > ~/bin/android-disable-packages.sh
  • adb shell pm list packages | sort >> ~/bin/android-disable-packages.sh
  • chmod 700 ~/bin/android-disable-packages.sh
  • edit ~/bin/android-disable-packages.sh
    • Replace "package:" with "# adb shell pm disable-user"
    • Uncomment packages to deactivate
  • ~/bin/android-disable-packages.sh