Google “Free”

I have long been an advocate of Google, all their services “just work”. They sync up wonderfully, they’re available everywhere and best of all, it’s free!

The question, however, is, “Is using Google really free?” No, you are either buying a product or you are the product being sold. Google is not making millions on thin air, on free email clients, on free calendars, on free document services. No, they make money quite obviously on your data. Some people don’t mind the trade-off, some people do. Recently I became the part of the people that do.

It’s not really about needing to hide or being scared of what they find which is often what I hear when talking to people. Often the response is, “…yeah I don’t care because I have anything to hide…” as though I do? No, I just don’t want an advertising company having access to everything I do, say, write etc.

One of my turning points was when I got PDF documents in my email and suddenly any dates in there were in my calendar automagically or I’d get reminders to pay bills from invoices I received. Some people love that, they love Google going through all their stuff unencumbered; I don’t.

Bryan Lunduke had a great show on this not so long ago as well where he speaks about which mobile OS spies more. If memory serves me well; which it almost never does; Android calls home every four minutes and iOS calls home once a day with location information. These were phones that were not being used, just sitting on a desk.

ProtonMail

So what am I doing now? Well, I’ve become a lot more comfortable paying for the services I need. For my email, I’ve moved to a service called ProtonMail. They offer an email service that is encrypted end-to-end. I exported all my email out of Gmail and imported them back into ProtonMail without a hitch.

ProtonMail also offers the convenience of mobile apps and if you prefer traditional desktop clients; as opposed to their web client; they have a bridge that you can use to set up your desktop clients. I have been ProtonMail mail now for almost two months and am still a happy camper.

Mobile

After listening to Bryan Lunduke’s bit on “mobile spying” I also got rid of all Google’s apps on my phone. Obviously not using their services I don’t need their apps right? I mean even Google Maps, Waze etc.

I have to admit however it may be an easier job getting off Google on an iPhone than it is on any Android phone. Apple seems to be more agnostic about what you use whereas Android is a better experience when you’re full-tilt into Google without any cares.

Conclusion

I have ended up going what I guess a lot of people consider extreme. I have no Google apps on my phone, I don’t use any of their services. I use Duck Duck Go for search. No more Chrome as my internet browser, I use Brave instead.

I have kept my Google account for now just to ensure that everyone that needs to email me has my new email address. Overall, I don’t miss Google at all.

Published by

Christopher Penkin

I have 16 years web and application development under my belt working on a wide range of different technologies including; C#, Python, Javascript, HTML & CSS, PostgreSQL, RabbitMQ and the AWS environment. My passion is to not just create great software, but great looking, easy to use software where the user is the central character of any solution.

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