Google’s Ecosystem Handcuffs
One signin for all your services. Email hosted, podcasts app, music, and so much more. It’s great isn’t it? Well it is until it isn’t and I’ll tell you why and how to protect yourself.
Our family has spent the last 16 years using what use to be Google Apps Free service. This was great as it gave us a custom domain for email and a way for the family to share content. We grew from 4 users to 20 now as people got married and their kids started into the Internet world.
Surprise to us last week when Google yanked the rug out from under us, and many others, stranding purchases on Google Play, Movies, and forcing looking at how to maintain the custom domain email.
Sour grapes? A bit, but it’s let me step back and review the services that handcuffed us into Google and how to break up and use better offerings.
We enjoyed Google Podcasts, it is simple but most podcasts are there. I put up with some of the limitations because it was just easy. There were so many options out there once I took my head out of the Google sand and looked around.
It comes down to deciding if you want exclusive content or not. My podcasts were pretty open so I decided to step into Stitcher. It had them all (excluding one) and did offer some exclusive content if I decided they were compelling enough. Others in the family swear by Spotify and their selection. But take a look, this is a non-core offering from Google and no reason you need to be held hostage for your podcasts.
This one is almost a religion so it’s less something that might have hooked you into Google. This has been a bumpy ride we were willing to put up with being the Fan boys we were. Hangouts, Duo, Messages, Chat, etc etc was bumpy but now it was time to jump ship. If you have something your peeps use just stick there but we finally made the jump over to Signal. I continue to hold onto other offerings like Whatsapp, Teams, FB Messenger, and others for people that use those but trying now to step into a really nice community driven privacy first offering with Signal.
This one is taking more time to sort out. It’s looking like the short list is going to include Onedrive, Google Photos, Amazon Photos, and something from Adobe. I’d love to hear comments on this from anyone that has a great solution that would work well for family photo sharing.
Again a tricky one. I’ve decided my browsing now is my business so dumping Chrome is the goal. It stayed before because of ease of integration with the Google Jail. I’m a fan of the Chromium rendering so staying in that world is still possible. Myself, I’ve adopted Brave. There are other decent choices out there with Firefox and even Safari.
This is another one that’s under review. My needs are a bit advanced but once I find a solution I will write up how to use it for those that want to jump to a self managed family email service. I need something that can host up to 20 users with a custom domain that doesn’t break the bank. Right now I’m pretty excited about Zoho. I’ve hinted to a family targeted offering at a price point that is very attractive. With support for exporting out of Google Workspace this might be the White Knight for what started this journy.
Single Sign on
This one is a tricky one. Having “Sign in with Google” is very nice so I’m hoping once I eliminate the Google Workspace product and free my domain from Google I might be able to create a vanilla Google account with my custom domain. If not it might not be as easy as before but I think I can live with that.
Don’t Be Trapped
It has been alot of research along with trial and error of different apps but I’m getting to a place that feels better then where I was being locked into the Google ecosystem. I’m sure others will argue for simplicity of ecosystem lock in but if it’s free, you are the product or the product will be discontinued. Regardless, take a look at your options, you might be surprised.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @rogueturnip and see my journey and tests of different apps for use by our family as we break out of the Google Jail.