Androids privacy invasiveness


With Android you have two options of app management. With Google Play, or without. As Google is getting more and more invasive the latter option seems more tempting. Too bad they made sure it’s a poor one.


Each device manufacturer that wants to include Play has to include a bundle of Google apps, gapps. And if he ever release a device with a competing app store (i.e F-droid, Amazon Appstore), he will be banned from future use of Play.

What control does Play give Google? Full remote access! What does it take away? The option to uninstall any of the closed source gapps. Examples of this access can be seen when installing apps via the website (no user interaction required) or in the Android Device Manager that suddenly turned up on every device. It allows you to track a phone, without ever having enabled (or been notified of) this on the device. I’m sure it’s in the EULA somewhere, but it was unknown to me until it appeared in the news.

On xda-developers forum you can see that the absolute minimum of apps you can choose is Core Base, Google Experience Launcher, Google Bookmark Sync, and the following Play Store applications: Gmail | Google+ | Google Calendar (replaces stock/AOSP Calendar) | Google Play services | Google Search | Google Text-to-Speech | Hangouts | Maps | Street View on Google Maps | YouTube. Not only are they all installed, but some of them will also bug you to use them. Like G+ Photos, which pops up and tempts me with free, secure and private storage, or creates animated gifs of my photos without me asking for it.

The by far biggest problem though, is that most of the apps in existence are only available in Play. If you don’t have play, you can’t have i.e. Spotify.

Other issues with gapps

  • They’re all closed source.
  • No one of them allows you to adjust how they sync. You can’t tell gmail to sync mail only when on wifi, or stop syncing when your battery is low.
  • Some of them duplicate functionality. Like G+ Photos vs. Gallery.