MicroG and privacy

I mentioned in the past that all that is really needed is UnifiedNlp. That is the geolocation portion of microG and is available separately. It only needs location permission and that’s it. I have several ROMs with just UNlp, no microG, and everything is peachy. I don’t need or want push notifications so I don’t miss out on anything. SMS and email do their own thing and that’s all I was ever concerned about.
Now of course using microG without turning on device registration and GCM is almost equivalent.

But as you’ve all seen in many posts in these forums, people are running / want to run apps that do require some form of Google Play Services emulation. That’s just the way it is. There’s no way really that microG can be free of Google contact and yet provide the services that it does. A lot of folks, including me, use it with at least Play Store in most cases (hey, I paid good money for all those Substratum themes and icon packs that otherwise can’t be used).

So yeah, of course microG sends some data to Google. That can’t be helped, if one is going to use GCM or their account (for Play Store or Vanced YouTube f.i).
If /e/ wanted to really be Google free it would have to replace microG with UnifiedNlp. That would narrow the user base to a minority I’d wager. The constant reference to /e/ being used by mom and pop, grandma and grandpa, would be a no go as they would probably want to use apps that definitely (probably?) wouldn’t work in such an environment.

Anyway, microG also has an XDA thread though I don’t think mar-v-in and company participate much, if at all.


If /e/ wanted to really be Google free it would have to replace microG with UnifiedNlp. That would narrow the user base to a minority I’d wager.

I agree. /e is not, and cannot, actually do what they say they are doing, without losing most of their customers. That’s misleading at best.


Just a question : what is a phone made for ???

Phoning : OK. SMS : mmmh, OK. Mail ? That’s a bit different but OK.

All that you (me) need more is… more !

So privacy depends first on Contact-app and then you agree or not with terms of use for each app you use… MicroG can’t be a “total-sandbox”.

I’m really expecting /e/-zero !!!

The answer I’ve got from ItsMe and Payconic by e-mail: Android is a platform from Google. The story about what MicroG does in the picture below this reply. This means I don’t need a smartphone and the Belgian authorities and banks will remain a paper tiger to me, they are digital slaves of Google. I’m dumping the smartphone and returning to the old “dumbphone” telephone and SMS only, a Nokia 105 I bought in 2017. I"ll follow /e/ to see if there will be supported tablets, an /e/ version without MicroG (MicroG=Google) and without the phone function, just a tablet, a pure Linux would be best because Android=Google.

Started using /e/ in October 2018, it was a very nice experience on my first, and possibly last, use of the smartphone. Thank you for that, but face it: there is no such thing as an ungoogled Android phone. “Degooglize” means leaving Android.

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When I started this project, I called it an “Odyssey”.

I choose to use this term because I knew that it was not possible to bring a brand new, perfect world to users. We are doing something better, not perfect (yet!).

What we are doing is to unGoogle Android, starting from low level stacks, like connectivity check, NTP, DNS, and then we try to do the best work at all stages, app store, default online services, default search…

You mention Android, but how many Linux systems are using Google default DNS or provide Google search as default? How many apps, even not Android, are using Google’s (and other’s) trackers? How many Linux users use the full fat Chrome browser?

So, yes, we microG is the “best bad solution” for apps. It’s still a dependency to Google services, but it makes Android apps work, have push notifications etc. It also provide some nice features such as the geolocation API that we can plug to something else than Google.

Also, as it doesn’t need a personal Google user account to work, it’s a reasonably correct smoke screen between the user and Google services. It prevents Google to track you personally.

This dependency is still not acceptable for the long run, and I hope we can progressively add more alternatives for apps.

What I have in mind for the long term is:

  • PWAs… (will be in the next App Installer)
  • building/adopting new alternative SDKs for building mobile apps. There is already a nice initiative on this and this will take take, but there is hope. Also, as we see some giants moving away (forced…) from Google, we can expect some disruption with mobile apps in the coming years

So, yes, not perfect, but I’m pretty sure that /e/OS is currently the mobile OS that is reducing user’s exposition to the Google ecosystem the most.

It’s an odyssey, and tomorrow will get better.


Thanks @gael for giving your point of view. I think you do well!
And @pjmbraet you could use /e/ without MiccoG by switching off everything in the “microG” folder in the settings. Would this be good enough for you?

And to add to this, there are many other ways that Google and others can track your activity online. And those efforts are mostly up to the user, not even the manufacturer of the phone or the developers. This is just another piece of the puzzle, so I find it a perfectly acceptable tradeoff.

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That’s why I asked in my thread (french) about “how-to config” /e/, because most users realy don’t know where they can improve privacy in settings and then by using safely there /e/phone.

I think users need a “full-upgrade” :smiley:

No you dont need to log in with a Goolag account at all for microg to function.

yes, If you need it for the apps push notification that are using google push…

I don’t have much experience with microG but are you sure that push notifications do work without a google account. How do you get an FCM registration ID without a corresponding account?

You do not need to log in, just enable the settings before installing any apps that require it, any apps you have installed before enabling you have to re-install after enabling. Then once something is pushed it will appear in the list of cloud messaging apps in microg settings.

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An odyssey it will be, not only for /e/, but for all of us. When government- and financial public institutions make themselves reliant on the services of big data companies, and demand the mandatory use of these services by the public to install their apps, there is still a long journey ahead before a privacy-friendly mobile operating system becomes even possible, unless we deny using these apps. What means making small payments by phone or logging in easily to public services remains impossible, in my country even without the use of Google services. So I don’t have a need to use a smartphone anymore.
About MicroG: though it was all set as disabled, set to “Off” and after that disabled in Settings and even set to “Force stop” it turned itself on spontaneously and installed UnifiedNlp (no GAPPS) without asking permission when I tried to install Payconic from the Aurora Store. Now it is impossible to uninstall UnifiedNlp. That is why I’ll use /e/ when it becomes available for tablets without the phone function and certainly without MicroG. Or that malicious app MicroG should be removable.
For now I’m waiting for the delivery next week of another model of SIM card, and I’ll return to the “dumbphone” phonecalls and SMS only. I stop using the smartphone totally.

I did. It turned itself on spontaneously.

well – the map view component in microG is horrible buggy and brakes in fact the usability of many apps in practice.

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Thanks @b3pio . You were right. I assumed I needed to use an account since microG FCM always failed on my previous device and it worked when adding a google account. However based on your info I found Google Cloud Messaging doesn't seem to work and that indeed allowed FCM to work without an account. Don’t know if you already got it working @Guenter but following the instructions in the link (dialing that number) fixed it for me. Thanks again!

Reminder: this topic is about MicroG and privacy …

You can use e on a tablet already, there are unofficial builds for lenovo yoga.

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I’m waiting for espressowifi ( Samsung Galaxy tab 2 ). I’ll try to build it myself when I find some time for it. Without MicroG, Apps (without MicroG the /e/ app store is really a G00gl attack) and off course without Phone and SMS apps because this tablet doesn’t support it.

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