Lifestyle Privacy Software

(Update) The Push to Eliminate Google from my Daily Life

It’s been 3 weeks since I started my attempt to fully remove google from my phone. The journey has had some ups and downs. I think I have a mostly stable solutions set in place now.

The services I was trying to replace were Youtube, Youtube Music, and Google Maps

Youtube – Winner (NewPipe)

Initially I narrowed my selection of Youtube replacements down to two options. LibreTube and NewPipe. Just based on LibreTube UI I found it much more attractive. The design is more modern and pleasing to look at.

However, after a few days the issues began. The videos would just fail to load. The issue would persist for up to 2 or 3 days before being fixed. It’s a real shame because I really like the design of this app.

So this lead to the switch to NewPipe

I was already aware of NewPipe when I started this project since it’s a well known program. I had a few concerns right out of the gate though. For one at this point it hasn’t received an update in more than 7 months.

Second, the design is very dated albeit functional. In my time using NewPipe I found it to work better than the official youtube app. Both NewPipe and LibreTube are more responsive and NewPipe loads videos as consistently as the real Youtube app.

The only bugged I’ve encountered is the “Sorry something went wrong” error that shows for the first 3 seconds of every video. However it doesn’t seem to effect anything that I’ve noticed.

Some other issues with the unofficial apps are:

  1. No personalized recommendations
  2. Playlists can be imported by URL but are stored locally and not updated from the playlist source
  3. Cannot cast to TV (Like Roku or Android TV)

Neither of these issues matter much to me since I don’t actually use youtube on my phone very often. However they are worth noting.

Perhaps my favorite feature of NewPipe and LibreTube is the ability to download videos as actual files. Even Youtube premium doesn’t allow this.

Winner: NewPipe

Youtube Music – (Winner) ViMusic

My initial pick was RiMusic. I had already known about one called ViMusic that my dad uses. When I checked the status of ViMusic it hadn’t been updated in months. This lead me to follow a trail of breadcrumbs which lead me to iiMusic. RiMusic is a currently maintained fork of ViMusic with extra features.

At the same time I also tried out an app called Harmony Music. I’m not going to share a lot of screenshots here because all 3 apps were similarly designed. In fact their designs were impressive. All 3 apps had a small footprint (less than 12mb installed) and possibly the most attractive intuitive interface I’ve ever used for a music streaming app (And I’ve used them all =D).

Unfortunately, despite RiMusic’s promise, I found it unstable. It would crash upon playing the first song on launch. Launching again would work normally. The second issue I had was that it would often play the same song two times in a row for no apparent reason.

Harmony Music is also currently maintained and I’d like to note I did not encounter bugs in the application. However I chose not to use it solely because it lacks a backup/import feature. I feel that moving devices would be annoying if I couldn’t transfer my data over.

So back to ViMusic I went and I haven’t looked back. I’ve used it for weeks now and the experience is, in all ways, better than the official Youtube music app. It’s faster, it’s stable, better UI, and even has an OLED mode. I am able to backup and restore my data as well. I consider this the most clear cut winner of this experiment.

Winner: ViMusic

Google Maps – (Winner) Organic Maps + GmapsWV

This was the toughest category. Google Maps is hard to beat. When I had an iPhone I was happy with Apple Maps navigation functions but the big feature that really makes Google Maps standout is how up to date it’s data is, especially for things like business hours, photos, streetview, and reviews.

So I knew going into this that I was not going to find a solution that was a direct 1 to 1 replacement.

I already knew about Organic Maps so I downloaded it. To make a long story short, Organic Maps works well. It is stable and can navigate you to anywhere you need without issue.

Unfortunately Organic Maps fails when it comes to up to date information. When trying to navigate to a new restaurant in my rural area the listing was nowhere to be found. You see the issue here lies in how the map data is obtained.

For Google Maps/Apple Maps, businesses willingly submit their data to the platform to increase the amount of business they get. In many cases they even pay those companies to “Advertise” for them. These leads to an incentive structure that works in the best interest of all parties involved (a rare occurrence). Users get up to date data, businesses get more customers, and Google/Apple get paid.

Organic Maps is based on OpenStreet Maps. OSM gets their data from user submitted sources. Since the userbase is so low, most companies don’t even know it exists or care that their data is in there. As a user you can submit the data, but who wants to type all that in from their phone while sitting in their car. Let’s be honest, we will forget once we get to a computer anyway.

The Workaround – GMaps WV

I found I nice little app on FDroid called GMaps WV. Gmaps WV is a restricted web view of Google Maps and functionally works exactly like Google Maps except for Turn by Turn navigation.

So a nice trick I found is that when you find a place you want to Navigate to in GMaps WV you can click ‘Share’ and this will initially ask you how to open the link.

On my CalyxOS phone I can click ‘Organic Maps’ and open it with that every time.

In practice this means I can locate my destination in Gmaps WV and tap share to immediately bring up the location in organic maps and simply click ‘Route To’ in organic maps.

This has been working well. I’d say it’s 85% of what a straight Google Maps experience is.

I expect this solution is cheating a bit, but it’s the best I can come up with so far.


On the the main Google apps I wanted to replace ViMusic was the most exceptional choice. NewPipe was also surprisingly good and I at least found a workable solution for Google Maps, even if it was cheating a bit. Have you found any better solutions for these apps than me?

ViMusic: 11 out of 10

NewPipe: 9 out of 10

Organic Maps + GMap WV: 7 out of 10

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