Google is the undisputed king when it comes to online apps and services. Despite this fact, a growing number of web-savvy people are turning away from the search engine giant due to privacy issues that have recently come to light.
Getting away from Google can seem overwhelming at first. Once you start, you might begin to notice yourself missing familiar apps and services.
Fear not, because we've put together a guide to the best Google app alternatives on the web.
Whether you're looking to create documents, browse the web, or even watch videos, these services have all your needs covered.
How to search like Google
We've previously gone over several Google alternatives with features like kid-safe search engines and rewards points. Out of all these search engines, however, your best bet for privacy will be DuckDuckGo. Unlike Google, DuckDuckGo makes it part of their business model not to track users, as well as a policy of no targeted ads or relevant results based on your search history.
How to browse like Chrome
Chrome is like second nature to so many of us that transitioning can seem a bit scary. Don't worry, though. The internet you'll see is the same, but these browsers might load it faster without the bloat of Chrome's coding.
Firefox, believe it or not, actually predates Chrome -- but this browser is no dinosaur. Firefox retains an active, passionate developer community that regularly releases new updates and add-ons for users.
Several add-ons like Adblock, for example, are focused on user privacy. Enjoy tracking-free browsing along with less ads and faster page load times. Just make sure to only download add-ons from trusted developers.
You may have heard of this browser from our articles on the dark web, but Tor itself isn't seedy at all. Designed as an "encrypted browser," Tor uses special coding to keep your browsing habits secret from prying eyes and advertisers.
Speaking of ads, Tor automatically runs a feature on every page it visits called "NoScript," which disables things like ads, banners and autoplay videos from running on websites. This can cause many websites to not display properly, but it also decreases load time and memory usage significantly. This feature can be disabled if you don't want it running.
How to message like Gmail
Gmail, by design, is a major privacy risk. Your activities are automatically collected via Google's algorithms and used to provide relevant search suggestions or targeted advertisements -- even on websites outside Google. There are several privacy-focused Gmail alternatives, but these ones in particular are lightweight and streamlined for productivity.
Mailfence is designed as an encrypted email service with a variety of unique security features. Users have the ability to add digital signatures to their messages, which guarantees that your emails are from you to your recipients.
On top of this, Mailfence offers a suite of document tools like Google Docs, along with a Calendar and access to third-party mail services such as work emails and custom domain emails.
Protonmail is based in Switzerland, meaning all user data must be protected according to the privacy laws of that country. Switzerland is notoriously neutral and concerned with free speech and data preservation, meaning your information is likely to remain unshared.
Additionally, Protonmail doesn't require any personal information to set up your account. This means if anyone were hypothetically able to compromise your info, they wouldn't be able to glean any personal information other than what you're sending in messages.
How to watch videos without YouTube
As part of Google's suite of apps, many of the same privacy pitfalls apply to YouTube as well. There are many video streaming platforms online, but honestly, none match the quality and quantity of YouTube's offerings. That's why the best alternatives either work hand-in-hand with YouTube itself or have features that provide something YouTube does not.
Hooktube acts as a gateway for YouTube videos and doesn't require you to access the site itself. Designed for faster load times and lighter weight on your browser, you can use Hooktube to search and browse videos just like you would on YouTube proper.
You can also watch YouTube links that other people send you without ever needing to step foot on the platform by simply changing "youtube.com" in the url to "hooktube.com." Works every time.
Vimeo is a longtime competitor to YouTube, but don't be fooled: Vimeo can hold its own. It boasts 280 million viewers per month, along with a much lighter server load that makes uploading videos easier.
On top of this, Vimeo allows for higher-quality videos than YouTube does. For this reason, independent filmmakers have flocked to the platform to host their movies for online distribution.
How to navigate without Google Maps
Google Maps is one of the biggest names in Navigation. It's to the point that many third-party mapping apps actually pull their map data from Google. That being said, if you're not in Google's own application, you probably aren't being tracked.
Your choices in alternatives will depend on which operating system you use.
When Apple and Google Maps split up, it was a major controversy. Nowadays, Apple Maps is holding its own due to its auto-installation on every iOS device in the world. Despite this, Apple Maps has a major focus on privacy, with browser DuckDuckGo actually utilizing Apple Maps for its own mapping program.
You'll have access to Apple Maps if you're using an iPhone or Mac, but Android and PC users can access Apple Maps via DuckDuckGo.
A lightweight and powerful mapping client, HERE WeGo boasts a large install base and high review marks for its commitment to privacy and speed. This application also offers versions for nearly every platform, including iOS, Android, PC and Mac.
Leaving Google behind doesn't have to be painful. When all is said and done, you can rest easy knowing you have your internet needs covered along with your privacy concerns. Always be aware of what information you choose to share online, no matter how trustworthy the source may seem.
Even with companies like Google, your data is money. Don't give them a chance to cash in.
New innovative app shows your Facebook, Google and Twitter privacy gotchas
We're so deeply plugged into social media these days that untangling ourselves from these services seems like more trouble than doing nothing. With tech companies making privacy more complicated than ever, how is anybody supposed to keep their personal lives separate from their digital lives? Thankfully, a new iPhone app can help you clean up your privacy settings for several platforms. I'll show you if it's worth the hype. Tap or click to find out more.