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I'm using Android 11 on my rooted Pixel 5 phone. It turns out that the Contacts app under this OS does not allow access of device-only contacts. I can only access contacts via a shared Google account.

Furthermore, if I go to Settings and try to disable network permissions for the Contacts app, it turns out that the Permissions settings are greyed out, and I cannot alter any permissions for the Contacts app.

I know that I can disable contacts sync-ing, but I want to go further. I want my contacts to be totally and completely disconnected from Google. I am happy to use an alternative contacts app that accesses device-only contacts, but that app would also have to be able to feed my contact information to all SMS and phone apps that I might use.

Does anyone know how I can ...

(1) ... go to Google and remove all my contacts there without this causing local contacts on my device to also be removed?

(2) ... break all (!!!) connections between Google's cloud-based contact storage and my local, device-only contact storage.

(3) ... reliably allow all device-only contacts to be available to other apps, including (but not limited to!) SMS apps and phone apps?

I know I can manage this by switching from standard Android to something like microg. But I'm hoping that there is some way that I could still stick with Android 11 and have device-only contacts with no sharing with Google in any manner.

I know that under Android, contacts are managed via a Contacts Provider service. Does anyone know of a way to disable the standard Android Contacts Provider service and somehow install some sort of alternate Contacts Provider service which would allow the use of device-only contacts and which could be configured to never, never, ever (!!!!!) share any contacts-related information with Google?

Thank you in advance for any thoughts and suggestions.

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    The contacts app itself is just a viewer app for the contacts database. And sync is again a different compinent. Each is a separate component/app. So it could be possible that the contacts app has no internet permission.
    – Robert
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 20:45
  • Oh, OK. Thank you. So how can I manage device-only contacts under Android 11? In earlier Android versions, one of the Account options within the Contacts app was to choose "phone" contacts, but that option has now been removed from the Android 11 Contacts app.
    – HippoMan
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 20:57
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    You need a local contacts provider. For devices that does not have such a local contacts provider there are apps which can backfit this. Not sure if it still works on Android 11 but apps like MyLocalAccount were designed to do so.
    – Robert
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 21:37
  • Just to add that Pixel devices use Google Contacts app which doesn't provide local contacts. On the other hand, 3rd-party contacts apps may still use the same Contacts Provider for storing contacts locally. Otherwise, the contacts won't be accessible by other apps (e.g. Phone, WhatsApp), if that's acceptable.
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Mar 13, 2023 at 0:18
  • Possibly related/dupe: How to replace Google Contacts with an alternative?
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Mar 13, 2023 at 0:24

1 Answer 1

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I ended up figuring out how to do this. It's similar to much of what @Robert and @Andrew_T were suggesting. Here is what I finally did:

First of all, I took the obvious step of making sure that contacts sync-ing is turned off.

Next, because I happened to have previously installed the True Phone contacts manager and phone manager app from the play store, I now made it my default phone app and started using it for contacts management.

Then, I used that app to make a local backup of my contacts using that app's conventions.

Following that, I froze the Contacts app, and I kept the Contacts Storage app active. I checked the permissions for the Contacts Storage app, and it has no network-related permissions. So apparently, it just looks at the local contacts database, and some other piece of software is actually the one which syncs Google's cloud-based contacts data with the local database. And by having turned off contacts sync-ing, it seems like I have indeed successfully prevented Google from getting its hands on any of my contacts.

Then, I went from my desktop computer to http://contacts.google.com with the same login credentials that are associated with my Android device. I then permanently deleted all of the contacts there.

(I rebooted between each of these steps and also after the final step.)

Now, my SMS and phone apps still see the contacts info in my local database. And I can manage the local contacts backup and restore via that True Phone app.

I'm sure that there are other phone/contacts apps which also could be used for this. But True Phone works well enough for me, and I already had that app sitting on my device, and I'm too lazy to try any others right now.

So ... it turns out that no major OS surgery was needed accomplish all of this.

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