Last month, we showed you how to use Android without Google using custom ROMs and third-party apps. In this article, we’ll give you the open source alternatives.
The FOSS, or FLOSS movement has been around for at least a couple of decades. Standing for Free/Libre Open Source Software, it centers around open-source software – meaning software whose code is open for everyone to peruse and change as they see fit. Android’s source code is based on open-source software, called AOSP or Android Open Source Project.
Open Source Apps
There are plenty of Android apps and services you can use that are based on open-source code. There is an open-source app store for Android called F-Droid. Installable via APK, F-Droid is a great start to living the open-source life. You can download the APK directly from this link.
- DuckDuckGo: An alternative search engine to Google, DuckDuckGo lets you search the web without giving up your privacy. (F-Droid | Google Play)
- AntennaPod: This app is your open-source stop for podcasts. It might not have the same features as proprietary apps, but it’s a worthy alternative. (F-Droid | Google Play)
- OsmAnd~: This oddly-named app lets you download and use maps from www.openstreetmaps.org. You can use it alongside Address To GPS to search for addresses. (F-Droid | Google Play)
- Muzei: This app brings live wallpapers to your phone for a beautiful way to customize your phone. (F-Droid | Google Play)
- DashClock: Spruce up your home or lock screen by using widgets from DashClock. Whether you want to read email, check the weather or use alarms, you’ll definitely want this app. (F-Droid | Google Play)
- Clip Stack: A productivity app that supercharges your phone’s clipboard. Cut, copy and paste items and browse through your clipboard’s history. (F-Droid | Google Play)
- QKSMS: With this open-source SMS app, you can customize it to your heart’s content, and set up QK replies so you can respond to texts without leaving the app you’re using. (F-Droid | Google Play)
- Swiftnotes: An alternative to Google Keep, this app lets you type up quick sticky notes and change their colors. (F-Droid | Google Play)
- Mirakel: A to-do list app, Mirakel has a beautiful design that will showcase your reminders, and even has a DashClock widget. (F-Droid | Google Play)
- KISS Launcher: This launcher is a minimalistic way to simplify your cluttered home screen. It launches apps, dials numbers and accesses settings while being low on memory usage. (F-Droid | Google Play)
- Material Audiobook Player: Listen to DRM-free audiobooks with this app, and check out the modern Material Design. (F-Droid | Google Play)
- Amaze File Manager: What would Android be without letting you manage files to your heart’s content? This app lets you browse files, along with extra features like SAMBA support and root browsing. (F-Droid | Google Play)
microG GMSCore is an open-source alternative to GAPPS, or Google Apps. Installation is beyond the scope of this article, but you can find more information and instructions here.
You may have heard of the Fairphone before. It’s a phone manufacturer that makes phones that are as ethical and open as possible. They highlight using “conflict-free” minerals in the phone production, and they recently launched their own OS, called Fairphone OS.
The OS is open-source and doesn’t include Google services, although with our help that shouldn’t be a problem. You can find more information here.
Whether you’re concerned about privacy or just standing on principle, going fully open-source is a big commitment. Hopefully, this article gave you some basic information about some open-source alternatives for Android.