The problem with Google’s Android is that they want things to consistently relay on Google’s Play services, proprietary Google Apps and libraries. They want more and more developers to get trapped in a software development debacle that is all about Google Apps and Play services to give respective Application publishers more control and power over their users in order to sub-jugate them to their will.
Google’s Android is barely open if you include such malicious practices on daily basis. You have locked boot-loader, a secure custom Android ROM called CopperheadOS which is less susceptible to malware and attacks owing to hardened kernel and software libraries on it. Regardless of these actually secure features, the only reliance majority of software publishers keep is on Google Play services in name of paramount privacy and security of your data. Overall, it is good lie told to you to secretly uphold and strengthen the control over you using Apps you that you use.
That being so, sometimes, we are forced to use popular Apps to connect, travel, order food, stream, bank etc. We tried a few popular Apps that you might use on daily basis and results were interesting.
Aurora Store as an alternative to Google Play
It works butter like smooth. No complaints. It gives you extra mileage and lets you download your fav apps from another region like US or UK without having to do anything else but connect to a good VPN server location.
I could download BBC, Hulu is no time vs getting harassed by Google Play regional locks.
Trust me, Aurora Store should be the default Google Play Store client on most devices.
BHIM official app by NPCI
Official BHIM UPI developed app by NPCI displayed a warning that it won’t run without Google Play services but it did and we paid our society monthly maintenance fees using it. So, it works.
Scanning QR codes while trying to pay was hit and miss but when it did scan, our transaction always went through in 1st test we did. So, we can conclude it works.
Yono Apps by SBI
Both the Lite and Full version of these apps work just fine. I had no issues or complaints operating them. CopperheadOS locks the bootloader and comes with no ROOT access enabled hence it makes it difficult for these apps to detect a custom ROM
It is a good thing for sure to be able to bank securely on mobile OS.
Amazon Shopping and Pay
It worked and let us browse, navigate and shop.
We were concerned about Amazon Pay feature which works for a plenty of other payments. We order a LPG Cylinder refill using the app and it worked like it should.
We paid with above said BHIM app. Things are not bad with CopperheadOS if you happen to use Amazon to Shop and Pay.
We tried with Prime Video Account and it works not only for streaming but also for downloading content for offline viewing or when you bad or slow connection.
I was able to do the same for Amazon US.
We tried to unblock US Netflix library using a VPN and it allowed us to watch US content and also download if we wanted. So it works any issues whatsoever.
Same goes for Netflix India. Both the libraries did not create any trouble while we tried them out.
Hulu US – All The TV You Love
It is a premium US based streaming service and it works fine with CopperheadOS too. We tested quite a few movies and Hulu did not create any trouble for us, despite the fact that we streamed over a VPN connection.
Kudos to both Hulu and VPN service for that!
A UK-based online streaming service from the BBC. How could we not try it? We used the magic of Aurora Store with a VPN and downloaded the iPlayer App to try it out.
In our test we were not only able to streaming Bloodlands but also could download it at a good speed. So, if you are BBC iPlayer fan, it works just fine with deGoogled CopperheadOS.
RTÉ Player is an on demand video service provided by Irish public media broadcaster RTÉ.
We downloaded the App using a VPN and tried ‘The late late show’ and it worked as normal.
Paytm WALLET and UPI
The most popular mobile payment/wallet App from India. It refused to work without Google Play services at all. Period. Bad implementation. Not a way to be self-reliant Indian company as proposed by current Indian government. The application did not even let us try out BHIM UPI on it, it should work as Paytm claims no registration requirements for BHIM UPI to function in TV ads that me and my colleagues have watched several times.
Although, I would love to see a Mozilla repo on F-droid which is a huge disappointment from a community oriented project, their password manager called Firefox Lockwise works without Google Play Services just fine for me.
It is one of the most popular App that most of us use to streaming our personal, family videos on big screen or mobile devices from a rented or home server along with other content it already offers us. It is a classic server-client media player system. Their Android App works best on CopperheadOS in our primary tests.
Plex on Copperhead did not disappoint as a global streaming service or as a media player. We faced no hurdles or performance related bugs while trying to stream our videos from servers across the globe.
The Android App used by most of India to stream live content like Cricket and other sports along with other entertaining content like movies and HotStar Special TV shows.
App refused to work without Google Play at all. But mobile web version was not that sluggish either, it did the job.
For some reason, my kid loves the interface of this App developed and maintained by Google. It made me try the App just to see if it works in case he needs it. Youtube Kids was another App like Hotstar did not work owing to lack of Google Play services.
Microsoft Word is the last word in word-processing Apps. It is either actively used or has been tried for a good amount of time by most users I know.
I downloaded and tried it on CopperheadOS. It works beautifully and let you either documents on the go. It has a special mobile view mode, that works best on small screen. I happen to like it. It did not force me to Sign up or Login any accounts and let me use it with local device storage only.
Which lets you scan documents and make PDFs or images to local storage, without having to create a cloud based account like ‘Adobe Scan’ software. Lens is a fine application.
It is funny how Microsoft cares for a little bit more privacy vs Adobe. There is pretty good support for OCR for documents, cards and other form of printed stuff that you can easily scan with it.
ONLYOFFICE, is a free software office suite, one I personally love and used for its free and open online document editors. You can host it online for friends and family who could gain access to a cloud based account to store, edit and share their documents easily.
I tried OnlyOffice Documents App with our personal server hosted in France on CopperheadOS and it worked like charm. Had no issues fetching documents from cloud or while editing them on my mobile device. It is a pleasant experience, I must say. You are going to hate me say this but I kind of like the mobile view on Microsoft Word way better. Albeit, it cannot be a parameter for me to switch from a free software App to a non-free one.
IRCTC Official App
The Official and Holy booking App for Indian Railways.
It is the lifetime for many and you would happy to learn that it works flawlessly on premium and secure CopperheadOS.
After doing all the work and writing, we were happy with results and thought of ordering something from India’s favorite food delivery app, Zomato.
Gotta say it works as good as it would with Google Play services. We logged in our account and ordered a Cake to celebrate the successful of the post.
Paid using BHIM UPI app and it went through without any errors. We were surprised to see how fast and elegant the delivery was.
Dear developers and App publishers, it is hard to private and more secure when you enforce Google Play services as a requirement to use your App. Consider offering independent APKs or even better a repo on F-droid. Slowly and steadily people are realizing the wealth of free/open software and are willing to invest, donate and pay for Apps published under a free/libre license versus a proprietary one.
Regardless of above said issues, with a properly locked boot-loader and verified boot, CopperheadOS is the only hardened Android distribution that offers us a good possibility to be Google-free even while using your favorite Android Apps.