Privacy Matters: How to Ditch Google’s Sneaky Services on Your iPhone

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In the wake of major data breaches and scandals like the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, many internet users are starting to take their online privacy and security much more seriously. That’s a good thing.

But giving your online presence a privacy overhaul can often mean ditching services and platforms that may not go over well with a privacy-conscious lifestyle.

While that probably includes Google’s services, it can be fairly daunting to try and replace the tech giant’s platforms. Here’s how to ditch Google’s most popular services on your iPhone.

? How to Ditch Chrome

Chrome is one of the most popular web browsers available, even on iOS. But the privacy policies of Chrome can be iffy, especially if you’re logged into your Google account.

Thankfully, there are a slew of much more privacy-respecting web browsers out there. And many of them offer the same sort of capabilities and features, especially on iOS, where every browser is essentially built on the same platform.

  1. Safari: Safari comes with your iPhone. And if you’re deep is the Apple ecosystem, it’s probably the best choice. It’s not only great for privacy, but it integrates extremely well with Apple’s other native features on iOS.
  2. Firefox Focus: This is a great web browser that automatically clears your history and blocks all kinds of online trackers. It’s extremely barebones, but we recommend it.
  3. Brave: Brave is another great choice. While it’s a newer-comer to the field, it features some great privacy and security features that are baked right in.

? How to Ditch Google Search

Google is still the default search engine on iOS. But, luckily, Apple actually lets you change the search engine to one of your personal choices.

If privacy is a top priority for you, it’s hard to go wrong with DuckDuckGo. And all of the aforementioned browsers support DuckDuckGo as a default search engine.

Generally, you’ll switch the search engine in the Settings menu of your web browser.

For Safari, as an example, head to Settings > Safari > Search Engine and choose DuckDuckGo.

? How to Ditch Gmail

If you’re like most of us, your primary email account is likely from Gmail. There definitely are some better options out there.

You can, for example, create an email account tied to your iCloud. If you’d like to go third-party, ProtonMail is an excellent choice for an encrypted and privacy-respecting email client.

As far as the email app that you use, it’s hard to go wrong with the stock Mail app. Other great options include Spark or Outlook. You can also look at security- and encryption-focused options like Canary.

? How to Ditch Google Maps / Waze

While Google says it doesn’t use your location data from Google Maps for anything nefarious, you’ll probably want to ditch it if you’re being thorough.

Unfortunately for many commuters, this also means ditching Waze — which is, if you didn’t know, actually owned and operated by Google.

As far as an alternative, the best one is likely already on your iPhone: Apple Maps.

While the app hasn’t had the best reputation over the years, Apple has vastly improved it in recent ones. In iOS 13, it features revamped mapping data and a Street View-like ability called Look Around.

Better yet, it’s also the default mapping service of DuckDuckGo.

? How to Ditch Google Drive, Docs and Photos

Some of Google’s handier systems, like Google Drive or Google Docs, are a bit harder to replace n terms of functionality — especially for free.

But there are options. The first place to look is probably native platforms like iCloud Drive and the iWork Suite (which includes Pages, Numbers and Keynote). They’re all currently free.

You can also look into third-party options like OnlyOffice, which offers similar capabilities to Google’s online productivity suite. Dropbox is also a good alternative for storage of documents, photos and other files.

For Google Photos, the best alternative by and far is the native iCloud syncing functionality built into your iPhone. There just aren’t that many iOS-friendly options out there that can compare.

? How to Ditch YouTube

Here is unquestionably the toughest Google-owned app to get rid of: YouTube..

There just isn’t really an alternative to the quality and quantity of content hosted on the video platform. So we won’t recommend ditching YouTube entirely — just mitigating its privacy implications.

Try using YouTube in a web browser (preferably on that isn’t signed into a Google account). You can also just use the YouTube app without signing in.

We’d recommend culling the number of system permissions it has, however. That includes Location, Background App Refresh and Bluetooth, among others.

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