One of the first things that I noticed on my Nexus One as I turned it on the first time, was GMail, Talk, Voice, Maps, Google Calendar and many other Google based services.

I know that even on a Windows or Linux PC it's very hard to avoid using Google... but it is possible, as there are alternatives to every service that Google offers.

On the Android, however, things seem to be very tight. You may recall the time in which Internet Explorer owned over 95% of the market share, simply because it was tightly integrated with Windows. Back then, Netscape was available but even if it performed as fast as Internet Explorer, starting it would take considerably longer.

So, my questions are:

(1) What are the non-Google alternatives to GMail, Talk, Voice, Maps, Google Calendar on the Nexus One?

(2) Do they really perform as fast as the "native" Google apps/services?

  • 1
    One thing you won't be able to replace is the search engine.
    – ale
    Jan 10 '11 at 20:42
  • 5
    I recommend changing the title from Nexus One, to Android. This isn't specifically tied to that phone.
    – Earlz
    Jan 11 '11 at 3:39
  • @Earlz I've changed it. Jan 26 '11 at 20:08
  • 1
    I am living (almost) without Google on my phone. I have setup a junk account just for downloading apps from market and use Google Maps. Nothing more. Jul 28 '11 at 20:05
  • 2
    @Al Everett Really? Search application (widget and the one which reacts to hardware button) is just an application. One can write a replacement for that. Jul 28 '11 at 20:08

(1) What are the non-Google alternatives to GMail, Talk, Voice, Maps, Google Calendar on the Nexus One?

Can't say specifically about Nexus One, but the stock Android platform does not come with Google-branded apps; so, yes, it is possible for the phone to live without Google. However, IMO if you're using Android and avoiding Google's services, you're missing a lot.

The stock Email application can sync to Gmail or other mail services through IMAP and POP. However, just like syncing Gmail from desktop through Thunderbird/Outlook, you won't be able to use the unique Gmail features, like Priority Inbox, Archival, Labeling, etc.

Applications that uses Cloud to Device Messaging (a.k.a. Push-to-Device) requires a Google account. Without C2DM, applications would have to poll their servers periodically, therefore draining the battery. There are alternative implementations C2DM that does not connect to Google's servers, however most programs are not designed for those alternative implementations and may have problems.

Google's Android Market is the largest Android market place. Needless to say, you won't be able to download as much apps as easily if you avoid Google's Android Market.

Google Maps and Navigations can be replaced by, e.g. Waze, Navdroyd, NDrive, RMaps, etc. I don't think there's a good replacement for StreetView, however.

There are certainly replacements for Google Calendar, however, I've not used any of them, so I cannot comment on how good they are.

(2) Do they really perform as fast as the "native" Google apps/services?

Yes, if we're to believe Google's words, none of the Google's apps use any "hidden" Android APIs that could magically cause their software to outperform other applications. However, because Google is Google, Google's own apps typically have the best integration to the Android platform and 3rd party programs typically would prefer to integrate their own apps with Google's applications.

Also, since Nexus One is a "Pure Google Experience" phone, this means rooting and installing custom ROMs on a Nexus One is among the easiest from all Android devices.

  • Excellent answers by both Matthew Read and Lie Ryan. I wish I could accept both but SE only allows accepting one. :) Feb 20 '11 at 15:46
  • Actually they use hidden API. On devices with stock Google applications there is a special .jar that implements underlying functionality which is stored in /system partition where non-root users have no access. That is why it is hard to install Android Market as a standalone .apk Jul 31 '11 at 20:30
    • Android comes with an Email app that lets you use any POP3, IMAP, or Exchange account.
    • Talk can be replaced by Meebo, eBuddy Messenger, and many others.
    • Voice is a fairly unique service but some features can be sort of replaced -- you can use a SIP phone number and an app like Sipdroid for calls, or something like Kik Messenger for text-like instant messages (think BlackBerry Messenger).
    • Searching "Maps" in the Market shows several results that look promising, same with Calendar.

  1. The Email app is very, very buggy and low on features. I'm confident there are other mail apps that are better though. On the other hand, Talk is also pretty buggy; I find eBuddy to be much better. And many people have problems with Calendar.

    When it really comes down to it, a quality app is a quality app, whether Google wrote it or not. Android doesn't seem to be as biased toward Google's apps as Windows was towards Microsoft's apps. My hodgepodge of Google and non-Google apps works well for me and I'm sure you can get a set of apps that will work at least as well overall as Google's apps do.

  • And there are, of course, alternative app markets. Jan 10 '11 at 21:04
  • What about contact list coupled with gmail account?
    – liori
    Jan 26 '11 at 10:18
  • Good question. On some devices you can bypass setting up a Google account, so presumably you could use Contacts without it. Otherwise you still wouldn't really "use" the Google account unless you wanted to -- you'd need to have one, but if you had no Google contacts then nothing would be different than a standalone contacts app. Jan 26 '11 at 20:05

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