I try to keep my device disconnected from Google by running a custom ROM without any Google services. Here is my experience and a list with apps which work great without Google.
- Device: LG Google (sic!) Nexus 5 (hammerhead)
- System: LineageOS 14.1 (Android N 7.1.1)
- Bootloader: factory-m4b30z (HHZ20h), latest, locked, and safe boot enabled
- Recovery: factory-m4b30z, latest, and (un)fortunately dysfunctional in this setup
- Miscellaneous: rooted with addonsu-arm from LineageOS
The Nexus 5 is a widely used smartphone from 2013. It has a huge community and one could say, a lot of fans. That are very fortunate circumstances, paired with the fact that the Google Nexus devices used to be very good in quality, security, and software support.
However, the official support ended in October 2016, and the last factory image was Android 6.0.1 in December 2016. Thus, I use a custom ROM and was always very satisfied with CyanogenMod (now LineageOS) both in terms of stability and functionality.
- Primary app store: F-Droid
- Secondary app store: Yalp
Due to the fact that I don't flash any Google services, I also end up without the Google Play app store. That's very inconvenient for most users, and I will not exclude myself here, because a liberated phone is nice but it's really annoying if you can not even use some of the standard apps you are usually used to.
Now, I use F-Droid, the open source Android app store. It contains basically everything you need to stuff your phone with apps for everything one could desire. But that's not enough for me, because I need some apps which are (unfortunately) only available in Google play with much better experience than the open source equivalents.
Thus, it happened that I use F-Droid for only one single application: The Yalp store! Yalp is a Google Play wrapper, which allows you to search apps, download and install them, and keep track of available updates... directly from Google Play! This is the end of problematic APK-mirror sites which do not offer any evidence that the downloaded Android Packages are full of mal-, spy- or phishware.
- Adobe, everything I tried so far
- Firefox, of course
- Signal, new on that list, now works without GCM!
- Twitter, can't live without the official app
It's worth to maintain such a list because a lot of apps rely on Google Services which really shouldn't need to (e.g., Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest). Anything important missing? Please, let me know!