Google has a firm grip on the desktop. Their products and services are ubiquitous. Don’t get us wrong, we’re long-standing admirers of many of Google’s products and services. They are often high quality, easy to use, and ‘free’, but there can be downsides of over-reliance on a specific company. For example, there are concerns about their privacy policies, business practices, and an almost insatiable desire to control all of our data, all of the time.
What if you are looking to move away from Google and embark on a new world of online freedom, where you are not constantly tracked, monetised and attached to Google’s ecosystem.
In this series we explore how you can migrate from Google without missing out on anything. We recommend open source solutions.
One of Google’s most popular services is Google Maps, a web mapping service which offers satellite imagery, aerial photography, street maps, and interactive panoramic views.
It’s used by more than 1 billion people every month. While it’s a very easy mapping service to use, it collects a lot of data which isn’t limited to GPS location settings from your phone.
What do we recommend as alternatives?
OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world. OpenStreetMap allows you to view, edit and use geographical data in a collaborative way from anywhere on Earth. It’s kept up to date by people using GPS devices, aerial photography and other free sources of information.
There are various open source software that taps into and other similar services. Our favorite is QGIS, an Open Source Geographic Information System (GIS). In QGIS version 3, there are built-in features to use raster and vector data from OpenStreetMap. The OSM plugin, a core QGIS plugin, provides the basic functionalities for OSM data manipulation; this includes data loading, importing, saving, downloading, editing and uploading data back to the OSM server.
Given that OpenStreetMap is kept up-to-date by its users, we need a simple yet powerful tool to make changes. In this regard, a very useful editor for OpenStreetMap is Java OpenStreetMap Editor (JOSM).
JOSM is a Java-based tool with advanced features including support for loading GPX tracks, background imagery, and OSM data from local sources as well as from online sources and allows to edit the OSM data (nodes, ways, and relations) and their metadata tags.
All articles in this series:
|Alternatives to Google's Products and Services|
|Gmail is a hugely popular email service.|
|Maps is a web mapping service offering satellite imagery, aerial photography, and more.|
|Photos stores your images in the cloud for convenient access from anywhere.|
|Translate is a multilingual neural machine translation service.|
|Calendar helps manage your busy life with a digital calendar.|
|Chrome is application software for accessing the World Wide Web.|
|Search looks at privacy-focused alternatives to Google Search.|
|Drive is a file storage and synchronization service.|
|Earth Pro maps Earth by superimposing satellite images, aerial photography, and GIS.|
|DNS resolves a particular domain name to its IP equivalent.|
|YouTube is an online video sharing and social media platform.|
|Google Docs is a web-based productivity office suite.|
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