I’ve been reducing my reliance on Google over the last several years and seeking out alternatives to the Google services I used most. There are a number of reasons for this. The main, and most important, ones are:
- I’ve become increasingly more uncomfortable with Google’s lax approach to user privacy, which is necessitated by their business model.
- Google’s commitment to accessibility has been lackluster at best.
- Google has changed, or in some cases discontinued, services that I rely on heavily on a daily basis. Most notable among these was GoogleReader. Google effectively destroyed the already small market for RSS feed syncing, becoming a near monopoly, and then left their users high and dry.
- Gmail’s non-standard implementation of IMAP and less than stellar accessibility makes the service more trouble than it’s worth for my needs.
This page is intended to be a place where I can document the services I am currently using as accessible alternatives to Google. As things change, I will update this page.
I now exclusively use DuckDuckGo for my search needs. DuckDuckGo is a tremendous search engine, and I prefer it over the others in just about every way. The company emphasizes privacy, and it is the key selling point of their service, but the clean and simple design of their site is also a major plus. Additionally, DuckDuckGo has all kinds of search shortcuts called Bangs. With Bangs you can do all kinds of direct searches of other sites and types. For example, searching for “!w Star Trek” takes you immediately to the Wikipedia page for Star Trek.
I am primarily relying on FastMail for my personal email needs. Its level of accessibility is impressive, putting Gmail to shame, and it offers many of the same features as Google’s service, including great spam filtering, automatic message sorting, automatic message purging, and much more. Plans start at just $10 per year. For a heavy email user, I’ve found nothing that even comes close to FastMail, and it just keeps getting better.
As a backup email service, I use Apple’s iCloud, which I’ve found to be very reliable, but it lacks many of the more advanced features of something like FastMail.
RSS Feed Management and Syncing
After trying out a few options, I’ve settled on FeedWrangler for my RSS needs. The web interface works well with screen readers, and there are a number of clients on the Mac and iOS platforms for accessing your account. The service costs just $19 per year.
I’m currently using iCloud for my calendaring needs, though FastMail offers a standards based calendaring service with their email, and I will likely check that out in the near future. My needs in this regard are relatively modest, however, so your mileage may vary.