Birches NEWS No. 42. Ein hartes Leben

About species superiority and xenocide of Google services, third-party firmware and freedom.

Birches NEWS No. 42.  Ein hartes Leben

The geek is so arranged that he never likes anything to the end, his demanding gaze always looks for flaws, and his brain begins to work feverishly, trying to find ways to improve an already existing electronic product. But while the smartphone copes with its work, all these thoughts and ideas usually remain in the user's head, without showing themselves outwardly. And a completely different situation arises when these theoretical improvements degenerate into necessity. Need an example? In 2018, the Sony Xperia Aqua M4 (E2303) smartphone, which you can buy new for 4,500 rubles (if you follow the gray market), after a short time and after updating all Google services, leaves the user about 200-300 MB to install third-party programs.

Birches NEWS No. 42.  Ein hartes Leben

This tight space can accommodate a couple of messengers and a client of one bank, nothing more. And the point here is not so much in the volume of the internal storage (8 GB), as in the GAPPS packages that are swollen to the point of disgrace. Specific figures – the Aqua M4 firmware without Google Apps (AOSP) takes 745 MB, and the volume of the maximum GAPPS package (with all apps similar to those installed in the Google Pixel) is about 1 GB. System applications from the manufacturer will remain within their framework, but Google services will be regularly updated, replacing independent applications and taking up all the free space on the phone. Can this be called 'xenocide' (from the Greek ξένος – 'alien' and Latin caedo – 'I kill')?

Birches NEWS No. 42.  Ein hartes Leben

Guy Julius Caesar, seeing on the smartphone screen the inscription about the lack of space, could say: 'And you, Google?'

Understanding of this situation sooner or later comes to all people without exception, rich and poor, smart and foolish. And he brings a person either to the store for a new phone, or to specialized forums in search of an opportunity to completely cut out all unnecessary programs from an almost new, but already almost non-working phone.


  • The opportunities that Google gives
  • Features of independent applications
  • Real experience of using AOSP project in 2018
  • conclusions

The opportunities that Google gives

Initially, Google developed as a search engine, like an ordinary site that searched and found information on the Internet better than competitors did. Throughout its evolution, Google has tried to grow into a global social network, news aggregator, worldwide provider of weather data, the best electronic translator. Those. Google is a convenient tool for the implementation of the idea of ​​globalization. This did not lead to anything good – a sudden rapprochement of different peoples, religious confessions and ideologies did not happen, good did not win.

Birches NEWS No. 42.  Ein hartes Leben

Already existing social networks, such as VK, Facebook, Instagram and other Odnoklassniki, do their job much better than Google+, and do not want to share their pie. The structure of their sites, the logic of the transitions and the type of published information are subject to patent rights, which Google cannot claim. Google cannot copy and then release to the market the VKontakte interface under its own brand. The further logic of Google's development was the transition from the state of “laying between the person and the Internet” to the state of “laying between the mobile application and the Internet”. 99% of the weather widgets that I tried to put on a pure AOSP (Android without Google) could not determine the location of the smartphone automatically, because they use Google's 'good service' in the form of a specialized API. And such examples are a carriage and a small cart.

Structurally, a smartphone with an operating system Android has a system management application from Google – Google Play Services. This is a reference service and a package of APIs (libraries and instructions), the most important 'bridge' between smartphone hardware, Google applications and third-party software that wants to use the Google API. You need to understand a simple thing: YouTube, Gmail, Google Photo, Google Camera are not separate programs, they are add-ons for the 'human-Google Play Services' interface. 99% of modern third-party applications (not games) are just functional shells of Google services. And to assess the scale of Google's implementation in our smartphones, just look at the statistics – in April 2018, Google Play Services were installed on 5 billion devices. Perhaps 5 billion people watch what Google shows them every day.

Birches NEWS No. 42.  Ein hartes Leben

Dain Fagerholm micro-cartoon

In exchange for freedom, Google offers a simplified system for developing new applications, quick determination of the location of the smartphone not only by satellites, but also by the addresses of Wi-Fi routers (including Bluetooth), new possibilities for cameras (Camera2 API, secure access person to the camera driver), uniform quality and safety standards, a common information space.

How do you feel about the fact that information about the location of your home router helps Google without your asking? Did you know that the YouTube app was recently equipped with a built-in messenger (removed due to low demand)? We still know very little about the consequences of the penetration of Google services into our lives.

Features of independent applications

When we talk about third-party apps and smartphones, we certainly don't mean games. Manufacturers of the gaming industry have long come to terms with the 'roof' from Google, almost all new games do not work without Google services. The situation is no better for mail clients in the classical sense of this issue. If the process of sending the letter is somehow connected with Google (the sender or recipient uses a Google account or the Gmail application), then the letter with a high degree of probability will not reach the addressee. Something like this happens even when you try to register a mailing address like @gmail in the standard application Android Email – an angry letter from Google immediately comes to the specified address, in which it is highly discouraged to trust this dubious application that is not protected by the latest technology . Or follow the link and enable 'trust'.

Birches NEWS No. 42.  Ein hartes Leben

And, at the same time, most messengers, which have replaced email clients for many, work fine without Google services on a clean Android OS. It is possible that this is due to the fact that the clients of the messenger are real money, which there is no need to share. This is how you can characterize the situation with third-party applications – where you can get money bypassing Google, independent applications and services develop and flourish, and where it is impossible, desolation reigns. Perhaps this is the reason why the Sberbank mobile application works great without Google services.

Birches NEWS No. 42.  Ein hartes Leben

Typical Open Source Games

Alternative Google Play sites, such as F-Droid, offer school crafts that do not fit in with the ideas of modern software.

Real experience of using AOSP project in 2018

The situation with the lack of space in the smartphone described above also affected me personally. On the screen of the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact smartphone, menacing texts began to appear with a proposal to free up space for installing updates to Google services, of course, by removing 'something unnecessary'. These messages concern the lack of space in the system partition, and not in the internal storage as such, and even more so not on the memory card. In such cases, it is usually advised to resort to resetting the phone to factory settings, then disabling unnecessary Google services and carefully installing the necessary applications. But instead, it was decided to install custom firmware Lineage OS 15.1 based on Android 8.1, and this is what came of it.

Birches NEWS No. 42.  Ein hartes Leben

Custom firmware, and this cannot be denied, differ from the original only in the level of its curvature and glitchiness. In my case, the firmware turned out to be surprisingly stable, which cannot be said about its direct competitor – the AICP project, which, although it continues to develop, regularly releases new firmware (for the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact), but their products do not reach the level of competence. ' can be used every day. '

Birches NEWS No. 42.  Ein hartes Leben

Birches NEWS No. 42.  Ein hartes Leben

After installing and turning on the device, the user sees the Trebuchet Launcher, and it gradually comes to him that all the usual applications will have to be installed manually, because there is no application store. Therefore, if someone wants to repeat this experience, then he should first study the question – whether his application exists in the public domain outside of Google Play.

The most acute sense of loss is the absence of the YouTube app, which has replaced TV for many and has long been the answer to the 'what to watch' question. There are several third-party apps that claim to play YouTube content in the description and allow you to subscribe to channels. Let's take a look at their key features in the pivot table:

Birches NEWS No. 42.  Ein hartes Leben

The previously unknown Videoder application most fully repeats the functionality of the classic YouTube and has a pleasant (and fast) interface, even its own font. And most importantly, it allows you to log into your Google account (in WEB mode) and synchronize subscriptions. It so happened that the Premium version of this application got to the test, so I can't judge the presence of advertising in the free version.

Birches NEWS No. 42.  Ein hartes Leben

As an analogue of Gmail, I could not find anything better than the time-tested programs Blue Mail and TypeApp, both pass Google sync perfectly and work quickly. Alas, due to the lack of Google services, Push notifications will not work, but this is a small price to pay for defeating xenocide.


The conclusion is that in 2018 it is quite possible to use a smartphone based on the operating system Android OS without Google services, without normal games, without cool photo effects, without choosing from 100,500+ applications.

Friends, tell us about your experience with cutting Google out of the phone, rolling custom firmware (screenshots are welcome) and more. What analogs of standard applications do you use?

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