Taking a Look at MicroG

I’ve been on the hunt for yet another Android ROM and this time, I wanted something with MicroG. I found LineageOS with MicroG and I’ve been using it for some time now. That said, there are some who don’t have official LineageOS support which means they have to use other community ROMs and if they want MicroG, they need to install it manually. I found a well-written guide by a user on the XDA Developers forum for those who want MicroG on their non-LineageOS devices.

In this article, I explain why you might want MicroG on your device and how you can install it.

Why MicroG?

MicroG is a replacement for the proprietary Google Services found on most Android devices.

A free-as-in-freedom re-implementation of Google’s proprietary Android user space apps and libraries.

MicroG Project

MicroG is designed to replace these services with something much more lightweight but also open. The whole suite is minuscule compared to its proprietary counterpart. Because the Google Play Services are proprietary, no one can know what kind of data is being sent to Google. However, with MicroG all the source code is available on GitHub. Data is still sent to Google but it is significantly reduced and MicroG strips identifying bits.

Google Play Services is often known for draining battery and taking up a lot of space. About seven years ago, Play Services only took around 50 MB of storage and that was a big deal too! Phones generally had limited internal storage which made it hard to install apps. Fast forward to today and Play Services takes up more than 400 MB of space! And that isn’t even including Google Play Store and other related services.

MicroG services only 10.58MB?! Hardly any data has been sent as well! This is how Google should do it.

You can definitely get by with no Google Play Services and no MicroG however many apps are now reliant on these services. MicroG isn’t going to give you Google Play Store so you are going to have to use a replacement like F-Droid or use a 3rd party client/frontend like Yalp Store.

My experience with MicroG

I’ve been using it for a few months now and its been great! Before that, I had no GApps or MicroG but applications such as Udemy kept on notifying me that “This app won’t work without Google Play Services” when it clearly did! Having MicroG made the annoying popups go away.

Also, you can get push notifications from applications such as WhatsApp. This is because apps which rely on GCM (Google Cloud Messaging) need Play Services. MicroG replaces it with an open-source alternative which is much more privacy friendly and better on the battery. I also noticed that GPS with OsmAnd~ maps now works flawlessly. Instead of using Google’s location service, MicroG uses “Mozilla Location Service” as the backend.

Overall, I am very happy with this setup.

Here is a snippet of what MicroG offers in their settings app. Giving you full control.

How do I install MicroG?

DISCLAIMER: If you follow this guide, I am not responsible for any potential damage done to your device. I assume you have knowledge on installing ROMs on your device. Not every device is support so please do your research. Always make backups!

For devices with LineageOS support

If you are running LineageOS on your device, you can visit lineage.microg.org, check their downloads page and find your device. It is recommended that you do a clean install because the keys for LineageOS and LineageOS+MicroG are different.

If you want to flash over your existing ROM (I assume you have no Google Apps installed), scroll down and find “Migration from LineageOS”. I’ve tried this out on my device running LineageOS (no GApps) and flashed the migration ZIP as well as a build of LineageOS for MicroG.

Other devices

Trademark97 over at the XDA Developers Forum has written a great guide on installing MicroG manually for non-LineageOS devices. I recommend that you check it out!

Link to guide.

Happy New Year!

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