Alternatives to Google’s services (Fall 2015)

I wrote a post several years ago about alternatives to Google’s various services. While I’m still a user of a fair number of Google services, which ones I use have changed since then. That’s between needing new services (such as Google Analytics) or ones I was using being abruptly shuttered (such as Google Reader, which I enjoyed).

Therefore, I thought it’s time to write an updated Google alternatives post. While I like Google’s services, it’s still nice to keep alternatives in mind in case personal usage changes, or if Google decides to go on another “spring cleaning” binge. I’ve tried to include both mainstream suggestions and ones that aren’t from the tech company “Big Four” (Amazon, Apple, Google, or Microsoft), such as open source software or smaller third party solutions.

AdSense

Advertising is Google’s main area of money-making, and so their AdSense program is quite dominant online. One main alternative to AdSense I’d suggest is Amazon.com’s Associate program.

Analytics

Google Analytics is still heavily popular, and what I use for this site. The main alternatives I’d suggest are:

  • WordPress.com’s Stats: For users of that blogging platform, or users of the statistics module in Jetpack on self-hosted WordPress sites.
  • Piwik: For open source fans, Piwik offers an alternative to Google Analytics that’s as feature-filled. While I use Analytics, this is what I used off and on for some length of time.

Android smartphones

The only major alternative worth considering to Android smartphones is the iPhone. Despite a few lingering alternatives like Windows Phone or Blackberry, or the occasional mobile OS murmurs by Ubuntu or Firefox, in my opinion the smartphone OS wars are pretty much over. Most people’s choices are between Android and iOS.

Gmail

There’s plenty of free webmail alternatives. Despite having slid off in popularity, Yahoo! is a useful option, along with Microsoft’s Outlook.com. (Disclaimer: I work for a contractor that works with Microsoft.)

For those running their own self-hosted sites, there’s also using your website’s domain as an email address.

Google+

Google+ hasn’t taken off as hoped; everyone seems welded to Facebook with an iron grip, despite constant complaining about Facebook. Still, Google isn’t the dominant social media force here, so it’s easy to switch to a more popular social network. Besides Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Instagram (owned by Facebook), and Pinterest are popular alternatives.

YouTube

YouTube’s the dominant video hosting site online, so switching services might not be attractive to some. Still, a few alternative video hosting services are available, including Dailymotion and Vimeo.

Google Maps

Google’s also become a dominant force in online maps. Alternatives I’d suggest include MapQuest, Bing Maps, and (for Apple device users) Apple Maps.

Google (as a search engine)

Yes, Google dominates search engines too, but there are alternatives. DuckDuckGo, Bing, and Yahoo (which uses Bing infrastructure) are probably the most popular search engine alternatives.

Chrome OS/Chromebooks

Alternatives to Chromebooks depend on one’s tech skills level.

For technically inclined users, I’d suggest a traditional Linux distribution, such as Linux Mint.

For typical or non-technical users, there aren’t really any comparable alternatives available. You could use a tablet with a keyboard attachment, though the interface and usability wouldn’t be comparable to a Chromebook. Otherwise, my advice is buy a Mac or a Windows PC, ideally one with a solid-state drive. Fortunately, there’s various web-based and free software that’ll run on both Macs and Windows PCs.

Google Keep

Evernote has been my main web-based note storage app for years.

Google Play Music

Seem my post on what music services I use. Otherwise, I’d go with Spotify or iTunes.

Google Play Movies

iTunes (for Apple device users) or Amazon Video (which is fairly cross-platform) are what I’d go with for renting/buying videos.

Google Drive

Dropbox is what I’d go with for a third-party cloud storage service. There’s also OneDrive from Microsoft, though recent changes to its “unlimited” storage might make it less attractive to some.

Google Docs

Alternatives to Google Docs include Microsoft Office (either the online or desktop versions) or LibreOffice, a free office suite.

Flickr Creative Commons photo by Wang Shein (CC BY)

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