Search engines. We need them, we use them everyday. I do not use Google search, or at least I avoid it as much as possible. Why? I do not like the idea of all my searches being logged and used to target advertising at me. Furthermore, Google and YouTube force users to make accounts in order to make comments and use some of their services. However, I don’t want my searches to be tied to a username. I do not want this because I am providing free information about myself to them without much choice. They can in turn sell this collected digital information or use it to target products to me, which I am not a big fan of. The bottom line is that I do not trust Google with my information. But, is there an alternative to this? After all, Google is really a powerhouse when it comes to information services.
Yes, there is. I have found DuckDuckGo to be the best alternative to Google Search.
DuckDuckGo promises to not track or log user information. I have found it to be a transparent and effective alternative to Google. The searches are very good and I almost never use Google search anymore. Occasionally I will need to Google something but DDG does a very good job of web-searching.
But, what about Google Maps? This one is a little trickier. For starters, there aren’t many companies with the shear power to take a picture of just about every street in the US like Google Street View. Google Street View can actually be very handy when you need to see a real photo of a destination that you may have never been to.
Is there a good alternative to Google Maps? You know, something that will work on Android, online, and iOS? I think OpenStreetMaps is probably the top contender.
Yes, OpenStreetMap can provide turn-by-turn GPS directions just like Google Maps can. It is also available online. The even cooler part is that it is a open/collaborative project, meaning any user is free to edit it. This is similar to how Wikipedia functions. The downside is that some addresses are not in the database yet. Frequently I have found that my home addresses are not there. This can functionally be worked around in GPS directions because the street I’m on is always on the map, meaning I can always just navigate from the street I’m on to the destination. But it is not as polished as Google Maps yet.
The fact that my home addresses are not there yet is not that surprising because, as a collaborative project, people would have to manually input every home…a tremendous undertaking! The fun part is you can edit the map and literally “put yourself on the map!”
The Android OpenStreetMap app is pretty solid in my opinion. It also allows users to download maps for offline use, perfect for rural areas which may not have the best cellular service when you need the maps most! Cause let’s face it, maps are way more fun when you’re hopelessly lost, right?
Overall, I recommend trying both of these applications/services because they are great alternatives to Google and will not target you for advertisements and they have better privacy policies.