Are there certain applications that you cannot live without? Necessary for work? No viable F-droid alternative? As you may have found, some android apps require Google Play Services to be installed on your phone in order to operate properly.
You can easily install Google Play Services on GrapheneOS to enable nearly all applications to work on the phone. While this is not fully-degoogled, there is a fairly private way to set them up so they are not always running in the background.
Your above phone will still be superior to a stock android or apple device, even with Sandboxed Google Play Services installed.
Unlike a normal android phone:
- You can remove Google Play Services whenever you like, they are not baked into the operating system.
- Google Play Services are treated as application and are 'sandboxed' or restricted from accessing data from other apps on your phone.
- Google Play Services have no special privledges and are limited to the permissions you set.
- Backend Services, like geolocation, are still handled by GrapheneOS by default.
You can simply install the Google Play Services apps and skip setting up a seperate user profile to create a similar experience to stock android. We recommend trying to use two profiles first to see if it fits your needs. You can always delete the second profile and install the Google Services on your main profile.
The best configuration for privacy is to use multiple user profiles. You will be able to quickly & easily switch between the profiles, between a Google-Enabled phone and a Fully De-Googled phone. The private user on your phone will not communicate with Google while the other user can have fully compatibility to use any applications you desire.
Using a seperate User Profile
User profiles do not have access to files within the other profile. Applications installed in the main profile will not be available in the other out of the box. This provides further isolation & control over when & what apps have access to Google Services. Unfortunately, this means you will need to setup the new user profile from scatch.
1. Create a second profile
- Open Settings
- Scroll down, press System
- Multiple Users
- Enable Multiple Users
- Add User
- Press Ok & give it a name
From here, you may choose to allow phone calls / SMS to be forwarded to the new profile. If you do not enable this setting, you may miss phone calls from your main profile while you are logged into the second profile. Keep "Disallow installing apps" disabled.
Switch to your new user!
Setting up your new Profile/User
- Press Start, Choose your preferred language
- Keep location services enabled (if you want)
- Set a Pin / Biometric if you want (you can do this later)
- Skip restore backup & Press Start
You now have a fresh vanilla install of GrapheneOS in a seperate profile on your phone. Now we need to get some apps.
If you download F-Droid from the main page of the website, you will likely get an error that the app cannot be installed because it is an older version. You must install the same version (or newer) as what's in your main profile. The easiest fix is to download the latest APK file from the F-droid app page.
- Open Vanadium
- Navigate to the F-Droid app page (https://f-droid.org/packages/org.fdroid.fdroid/) or Go to F-Droid.org & search for the F-Droid app
- Download the latest F-Droid APK (you will need to scroll down a bit, it should say suggested)
- Install the F-Droid.apk file
Install Aurora Store
Once you have F-Droid installed, you will want to install Aurora Store to download apps from the Google Play Store without needing to sign in to a Google account.
- Open F-Droid
- Ensure your repositories have been updated, slide down on the app's home screen to initiate the update.
- Search Aurora Store
- Download & Install
Open the Aurora Store app & follow the setup steps. Most users will want to use session installer & anonymous login options while configuring.
If you want to used purchased apps you will need to login with the google account that purchased the apps. This is not recommended unless its absolutely essential for you.
Install Google Play Services
GrapheneOS provides app versions of Google Play Services in the "Apps" app. You can install all of the apps needed by installing the Google Play Store first.
While in the profile you want to have access to Google Services:
- Open the Apps app
- Install the following apps
- Google Play Store (This one will automatically install the others)
- Google Services Framework
- Google Play services
Once installed, you will need to initialize the Google Play Store. You do NOT need to login to a Google account.
Initialize Google Play Store:
- Open the Play Store app
- Press Sign In
- Wait for Initializing to complete (wait until you see the login screen)
- Close the application
Access Google Play Services Settings
- Open Settings
- Press Apps
- Press Sandboxed Google Play
That's it! You should be able to use applications that require Google Play Services.