Quality Open Source Apps: Best of F-Droid (2018)

Android is made by Google, and unless you live in China your Android phone shipped with the Google Play Services (GPS) suite. This includes Google Play Store, a centralized repository of software.

Having a centralized software catalog can be detrimental to users. This means whoever controls the repository controls what users can download.

Fortunately Google does not find drone strikes “objectionable content” but dare publish an app which hosts free speech (note: I am not against removal of apps, I think its needed — but removing an app which does not necessarily side with the repository owner’s political agenda is not something I particularly like).

Enter F-Droid, a front-end for decentralized application repositories. Like many alternative services, you can host your own F-Droid instance.

But unlike Google Play Store, the amount of apps in the popular repositories is small, apps sometimes are un-maintained, suffer from lack of updates, have security vulnerabilities or are outdated.

By default, F-Droid lists their own repository, but you can load other repositories as well

A good way to browse F-Droid on a computer is using https://fossdroid.com/

Here are the apps I use from F-Droid:

  • aMetro: displays offline metro maps.
  • OTP: 2 factor authenticator app.
  • Clover: browse 4chan boards, allows posting.
  • Dialer for Pebble: advanced dialer app for Pebble, can send SMS with canned responses and voice.
  • DNS66: blocks urls, I use it to block ads, malware and tracking urls.
  • FastHub: GitHub client, fully featured.
  • Firefox Klar: browser that automatically deletes cookies, history, passwords once you close it. It also blocks ads.
  • Firefox: firefox for Android, I use it with Privacy Badger extension
  • K-9 Mail: mail app, interface is clunky but gets the job done, its compatible with OpenKeychain for sending and receiving encrypted mail.
  • KDE Connect: syncs your phone with your Linux computer. You do not need KDE to be your default DE (I use GNOME). Displays notifications on your computer, can control mouse and keyboard input, play/pause vlc and ring your phone.
  • Materialistic: read news.ycombinator.com
  • Mupdf: PDF reader, I like that it has a slider at the bottom.
  • NewPipe: probably the most popular F-Droid app. YouTube client that allows running without Google Play Services, as well as downloading video in video or audio format, play in background and play in Picture-in-Picture mode.
  • OpenKeychain: encryption key manager, use it with K-9 to send encrypted mail.
  • Lawnchair: customizable launcher.
  • Simple gallery: photo/video gallery, similar to QuickPic.
  • Syncthing: decentralized file synchronization.
  • Slide: browse Reddit.com.
  • spaRSS: RSS news reader.
  • Termux: easily my favorite app, read my blog entry about it here.
  • Tusky: Mastodon client, a decentralized social network similar to twitter
  • Twidere: Twitter client
  • VLC Remote

Apps that also should get a mention: