Written January 17, 2020Occurred Spring - Summer 2017Arthur OsipyanGetting G***** off my phone was the easiest part by far. The harder part was depending less on the services, which are admittedly still the most feature-rich and attractive ones out there. If you're truly with me, you can feel the cringe I felt typing out that sentence. Sometimes, the devil is better with details and you have to commend how easily people are manipulated (even though it's morally bankrupt). I decided to expand my desktop relationship with G***** instead, and started using my laptop and library computers throughout the city as a point of contact. I started doing more research on G***** alternatives, and that's when I discovered HERE Maps, which I use to this day (all Maps previews and suggestions are redirected to HERE Maps on this site). I would also recommend that you understand the terms "sideloading" and "root". You will need to scrutinize apps more carefully, and have a basic understanding of Android permissions (the permissions in Play Store are truncated and not informative - scroll to the bottom and click [🛡 Permission Details] for the ones I'm talking about), specifically "Read Phone Status and Identity", "G***** Play License Check", and "Full Network Access".
"Read Phone Status and Identity": The app can uniquely identify your device, see its DID, Android installation ID, the OS, the SIM card carrier aggregate (Big 4, so if I was a Mint customer, it would return TMOBILE), whether or not a call is in progress and radio toggle status. Dialer, paid, messaging, utility and most gaming apps have this permission.
"G***** Play License Check": Explicitly checks if G***** Play Services is installed on the device. If it is not, installation will abort regardless of whether you meet device density rules to install the app. CDTA has such a permission, and I cannot use their app due to it. I do not support device density "thwarters" available through the Xposed Project. If it wasn't meant for your device, there's a good reason why. Fork it and build a version for your device. Don't be lazy.
"Full Network Access": Used to deliver ads and enables the app to call for resources within its own browser. If this permission is absent, it uses the default browser to retrieve data. This is not an essential permission. If the app can be used offline and it doesn't have a paywall, disable its background data.
I know that there are users who won't be able to access leaderboards and in app purchases, which are only available if G***** Play Services is installed. I would suggest you designate a non-cellular tablet or Bluestacks client (paid version is worth it) to satisfy that need to be connected with your casual games. You'll be less distracted, have a bigger screen and better controls, and less eyestrain and "smartphone neck" by using a larger, stationary device. You'll also have more time for actual Words With Friends (the board game). To successfully complete this step requires that you make and cope with a lifestyle change. At this point, you should reach out to developers to see what their thoughts and policies are on sideloading. You need to be competent in this in order to fully complete this step.