I am running without Google apps (and without bundled Device Manufacturer apps) but I’m not sure if the spyware is completely gone. I doubt it ever completely is. This is Google, after all: CIA and NSA. What’s worse is all companies are the same.
I’d love to make a ‘man-in-the-middle’ device to really analyze what is being sent to Google (if it is) like they have here https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=S0G6mUyIgyg#
If someone can point to a newbie tutorial on how to do this then I’d love that. I am not running any custom firmware, but I also don’t use any apps that require Play Store Spyware or related Spyware infrastructure. Nor do I care for updates from State Mafia collaborators.
The basics to be free of Google apps for me:
First step: buy device that has a TWRP recovery for it. Root it. Install preferred keyboard and launcher. Uninstall all crapware, including manufacturer-bundled spyware, keyboard, launcher and ALL Google apps. Uninstall all Device Manufacturer bundled apps along with heaps of bundled Chipset Manufacturer components and Google system components. Disabling Google apps is useless: they can and do still run. Install your preferred browser(s) and apps. Install AdAway, firewall, etc.
It would be extremely useful to automate all this crapware removal but there are so many devices with so many different operating system versions. After crapware removal, I simply create a TWRP back-up so I can restore the system to a (mostly) crapware-free state in case of emergency or experiment-gone-wrong.
After uninstalling the default Gallery, Contacts, etc. a good place to start is the Simple Mobile Tools apps from Tibor Kaputa https://simplemobiletools.github.io/
These were one of the first stand-out apps for me when replacing the bundled crapware on my new Android devices. I can’t believe one guy is behind them all.