Samsung Fascinate with Google

So you want the Samsung Fascinate, but don't want to give up your precious Google services, eh? Can't stand that Verizon traded Google Search for Bing? Gotta have Google Maps? No worries. We've got your covered. With three free apps and one bookmark, you can transform the Fascinate into a nearly stock Google experience. And it's all done without rooting the phone.

How'd we do it? Let's discuss, after the break.

That's it. It's that easy. Three free apps, one bookmark and we're back to a nearly normal phone. Let's break it down:

A new launcher

OK, so this isn't really necessary. But so long as we're changing things, let's put a more stock Android launcher on the Fascinate. In this case, we used Launcher Pro. With it we get a number of customizations, including the extra icons at the bottom of the screen. But any other launcher will work fine, too.

Google Maps

As part of its deal with Microsoft, Verizon didn't include Google Maps on the Fascinate, instead going with Bing Maps. But all you have to do is download Google Maps from the Market, and you're good to go. (Pro tip: Don't try to launch Google Maps from within the Android Market.)

Google.com boomark

Press the search button on the Fascinate, and all of your searches are routed through Bing. Same goes for the stock Google Search widget. It's invisible when you're running the stock Touchwiz launcher. But toss on a third-party launcher, and it's available again, but everything still goes through Bing.

It's not perfect, but for an easy shortcut to Google search, all we did was bookmark Google.com in the browser and place a shortcut on the home screen.

Voice search

And, yes, voice search, by default, goes through Bing. Voice search through Vlingo -- which is now free in the wake of Google upping its voice search game -- goes through Google. (What a twisted web we weave.) And besides that, it's pretty darn good.

So that's it. Took about five minutes to do, cost nothing, and we didn't have to root our phone. Sure, custom ROMs will clean things up even more, and you might want to try different apps from what we've used here. After all -- it's that kind of choice that makes Android as powerful as it is, and all the more disappointing that carriers muck up the works.