"Google is unavoidable"
I thought so too. Till about November 2014. That's when I rejoined diaspora and found some awesome alternative services. Here's how I stopped being a Google fan boy and started living a life without Google
On the Web
DuckDuckGo: this amazing search engine. Its instant answers are so much better for programmers. Direct answers from stack overflow, Wikipedia, etc. Many more APIs integrated. Once you start using it, you'll start finding it indispensable. I "discover" new functionalities every other day.
A/I network for email. You can choose something like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and so many other choices.
Autistici/Inventati is a European network funded by users which provides privacy aware services - including email and hosting.
diaspora* instead of g+ (if you've been using g+ at all, or Facebook too)
I haven't really had a chance to miss google maps. But OpenStreetMap will probably be as good.
- Mozilla Thunderbird: As a firefox user, I'd heard of Thunderbird for a long time. But unfortunately I didn't know how powerful it was until I started using it.
Sure gmail makes itself sound "powerful and unmatched" by its smart labels and stuff. But smart labels just sort mails according to the from address. This feature can easily be replicated in Thunderbird. And we should actually be unsubscribing from all those lists we don't want (instead of hopelessly relying on gmail to remove the clutter from in front of us)
As a side note start sending encrypted emails using enigmail plugin for Thunderbird.
While we're at it, Thunderbird Conversations for enabling threaded conversations like gmail.
On android phones it is a whole lot easier (than what I thought) to get rid of Google
Flash cyanogenmod and DON'T flash gapps.zip (simple, right?)
Initially I thought all things would stop working. But no, only some notifications that depend on Google Cloud Messaging will be late. Telegram, etc has its own service for pushing notifications.
You'll miss play store but you can download f-droid and direct download apks for other apps.
Read more about f-droid and other recommended free apps
In case you don't want to get rid of them, you could download
droidwallAFWall+ (a fork based on the no longer maintained droidwall) (requires root) and block internet to all apps except Firefox and Telegram (saves data too)
Also, duckduckgo for android is THE app for people who "want something to read" all the time. You can curate your sources and it'll show you the trending links at the swipe up from the navigation keys (yes, where google search was)
Don't forget to configure duckduckgo as the default search engine inside Firefox for Android. From today, you say "Just duck it" in place of "Just google it"
k-9 mail and openkeychain for encrypted mail. Again, things won't look as smooth as gmail, but you should anyhow be more productive replying to mails from desktop
Osmand~ is an excellent navigation app to replace google maps. Thanks to Pablo who gave me the tip on telegram.
Sometimes it makes sense to take out android entirely and replace it with actually "free and open" OSes like Firefox OS
Setting up F-droid and freeing android
Prism Break has a collection of applications like the above list. The list is definitely more comprehensive and accurate than this one.
Checkout projects like unhosted.org. Going indie is one of my 2015 resolutions (just created). I'm already independent of Google and Facebook and you can be too, zero cost.
Pablo also told me about NOGAPPS project which is "a set of applications and frameworks with the goal to fill the gap of missing gapps package"