Newbie questions - neutralising Google Play Services, do I need FP Open?

I got my first ever smartphone (Fairphone 2) yesterday, after my poor old Sony Ericsson dumb-phone died on me a couple of weeks ago after many years’ faithful service.

I’m keen on the idea of avoiding Google and feeding BigData, and maintaining a degree of online privacy (I’m not on Facebook, Linked in etc) but I’m not a techie expert, and talk of “root” scares me.

I’m trying to work out if (not being very techie) I could get rid of the Google OS and use the Open OS without seriously mucking up my phone through my lack of knowledge.

So far my resistance to Google consists of the following:

  • I don’t have a Google account.
  • I’ve not gone to the Google Play store and downloaded any apps from there.
  • Having found F-Droid and also the Guardian Project, I’ve downloaded Orbot, Orfox, DuckDuckGo, Crosswords (F-Droid’s Scrabble type app) and K-9 mail, and bookmarked the Open Streetmap app in my browser.

I did however, have to use Google Chrome to find F-Droid and therefore had to enable some settings (bootstraps problem - I couldn’t work out how to get on to the internet to find the browser I wanted - Orfox - without using the browser I didn’t!)

I may also look at open-source music player and maybe camera apps and possibly the Osmand mapping/navigation system (although I’ve read mixed reviews of the latter).

I’m aware (using Tor on my laptop) that some websites (e.g. airline and hotel booking sites) flatly refuse to work in Tor, and others insist on me completing endless CAPTCHAs, and that I’ll need a back-up browser of some sort. I’m used to the inconvenience of being logged out of forums and having to log back in every 5 minutes when browsing through Tor.

But I’m wondering whether even if I’m not using the Google apps, and intend not to, they are still slurping data behind the scenes and sending it to Google. I’d heard there was something called Google Play Services which is a Bad Thing, and would like to get rid of it.

I’ve read a few posts on the forum about using the Fairphone Open OS and wonder whether I should be using it. I get the impression that I’d have to reinstall apps if I did so.

  • Would installing it also wipe my contacts from my SIM card?
  • Can I copy my contacts from my SIM card to the micro-SD card I put in my phone & if so, how?
  • How easy is it for a technonumpty like me to install Fairphone Open OS?
    Can I get rid of/neutralise/delete Google Play Services without having to switch my whole OS to the Open OS?
  • If so, how?
  • How do I go in and now disable whatever settings in Chrome I had to enable to allow me to connect to the net and access F-Droid and start downloading apps in the first place?

Thanks in advance for your help - if anyone can answer my questions without simply referring me to various old forum threads consisting of several hundred posts of varying relevance that would be great!

1 Like

Have you seen this resource for carrying out OTA update upon phone?

Have a look at this backup method without Google:

Hi Aspergerguy - thank you for your speedy reply.

I had seen the link.

Am I right in thinking it is another “bootstraps problem” where I’d have to use Google Amaze to download and install it?

Will installing it then wipe out the Google OS?

I have just downloaded a different file manager OI file manager - do you know if that would allow me to install the Fairphone Open rather than Amaze?

I would recommend Firefox Focus as a decent back up browser. It’s small and privacy… focused.

1 Like

@MrsLuddite please read the following guide, it will clear up most of your questions:

1 Like

Amaze is Open Source, you can even install it via F-Droid. I don’t see a reason why you shouldn’t use it.

1 Like

As I don’t have much stuff on my phone, and made a note on a Word document of my contacts before I changed SIM and got a new phone so that I could manually add them one by one (a pain but not impossible), I’m wondering about trying to install FP Open without taking a back up of old stuff first (not wanting to set up a Google account to back up to the cloud, use Google play to download Helium, root to use Titanium etc).

If I install Amaze, and then install FP Open, presumably at that stage I’d have no web browser or way of accessing F-Droid.

How would I get hold of F-Droid to start downloading other apps?

Is the only way of getting F-Droid back on the phone after installing FP Open to have taken a back up off my phone before the FP Open installation?

1 Like

Do you have a classic PC? From there you can transfer the F-Droid apk to your phone easily. Or you could use wget from the command line.

I have a laptop - do you mean I can download F-Droid to my laptop and then copy the file across to the phone? Would I need any specific software (that wouldn’t be on the phone as part of FP Open) to then install F-Droid? How would I know where to copy it to on my phone?

Copy it to any directory available from your PC, then activate installation from unknown sources in preferences - security. Afterwards open the builtin file manager from preferences - storage and USB - discover and navigate to the APK. Click it and confirm its installation. Since I have a German localized Android the options may be slightly different.

1 Like

Thanks StephanK - will try that at home this evening.

I just tried copying my contacts back to my SIM card from the phone and it failed. (I’d originally imported them on to the phone from my previous SIM card). Any idea why? I’ve not added extra contacts as compared with what was on my old SIM card.

I’ve also not been able to export contacts to the SD card - it says I have disabled a required permission. Any idea what permission I have to enable to be able to export contacts to my SD card?

If an app needs a special permission it usually requests it. Try to set this permission for the Contacts app.

FP Open comes with a web browser preinstalled already. You can use that to download the f-droid app. Of course the way @StephanK described is viable (downloading on a PC and transferring the apk via USB) also.

As an alternative to FP Open it’s also worth taking a look at Lineage OS (see #software:alt-lineageos). It’s distributed without Google software, and it’s based on android 7 already (FP Open is Android 6).


Totally forgot that since I have deactivated the built-in browser since the very beginning.

If you’re this paranoid, you should also check the checksum of the F-Droid APK as described on the download page.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 183 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.