The open source apps offer Android users excellent alternatives to their major competitors. Notably, since their source code is available to anyone, savvy users can see exactly what’s going on under the hood. And while open source apps can track you, it is impossible to do so without the users knowing. There is also more community involvement in open source projects. The most popular open source applications are checked regularly by users, to ensure that high quality is maintained.
Installing open source apps is a great way to reduce your dependence on proprietary software while still retaining the benefits of services provided by your phone manufacturer. The Play Store is full of great alternatives, including well-known names like Firefox, ProtonMail, and VLC. We have collected 13 of the best open source apps for Android, to get you started in the world of open source apps.
As of February 2022, Firefox had only 0.48% of the mobile browser market share. Although the bulk of the browser market pales in comparison to Chrome (61.95%), it doesn’t come preloaded on almost every Android phone. In our comparison of Chrome and Firefox, we noticed that the open source browser is not as consistently smooth as Chrome, but it has some great features and takes privacy very seriously. If you’re concerned about Google keeping tabs at every step, Firefox offers a solid balance between privacy protection and advanced features.
While Firefox has better privacy features than Chrome, Brave tops both. The only problem is that Brave isn’t like other browsers, so if user experience matters, you’ll probably want to keep Firefox.
With a built-in ad blocker, incognito tabs, and a native Tor connection, Brave is an easy choice for the privacy-conscious user. To make things even better, Brave also has its own privacy-focused search engine. Although the search quality is lower compared to Google, it does not track your searches or clicks.
Lawnchair . Launcher
Lawnchair was abandoned by the original development team in 2020, and has recently been taken on by a new team that promises to keep it updated. It is designed to mimic the Pixel UI, so it is a great choice for Android users who prefer this design.
Updated regularly to take advantage of all-new Android features like Material You, packed with features like drawer categories, automatic dark mode and notification dots, it’s sure to impress anyone looking for a new open source launcher.
open the camera
Open Camera is free, full of features, and contains no ads. With over 50 million downloads, it is one of the most popular camera apps on the Play Store.
In classic open source fashion, the interface is a little rough compared to apps like Google Camera or Samsung Camera, but don’t let the DIY aesthetic discourage you.
While the best open source weather app is looking out your window, it can be hard to check the weather at night or while you’re in the basement. This is where Good Weather comes into play, providing you with an open source weather app packed with features including detailed charts.
Beyond the graphs, Good Weather displays your weather report in a clear and straightforward way. It also provides some widgets, which is frankly a necessary requirement for any weather app.
The team behind ProtonMail is the same team behind ProtonVPN, a virtual private network designed to provide online privacy to as many people as possible. ProtonMail was designed with the same lofty goals in mind, prioritizing user security and privacy above all else. On top of that, ProtonMail is a beautiful app that doesn’t have the wonky UI elements that you’ll find in many open source apps.
While Spotify is the best podcast app on the market, its relentless pursuit of exclusive content to generate higher ad revenue is ruining the podcasting experience. AntennaPod, is a fully open source podcast app that can help you beat Spotify addiction.
AntennaPos users can subscribe to their favorite audio files via RSS feed, and can import and export their data at will. The app is also entirely created by volunteers, so advertisers won’t bother you while you’re navigating it. Any ads you hear are placed by podcast publishers, who receive 100% of the advertising revenue.
VLC for Android
VLC has been an essential media player since its original release for desktop computers in the foggy days of 2001. Released on Android in 2014, VLC is still one of the best open source media players available.
VLC for Android can play any video or audio file, with all the features you’d expect from a media player like closed captions, teletext, and subtitles. It’s updated regularly as well, and stay up-to-date with apps like Android Auto.
While the drama between Google and Apple over RCS and iMessage continues to unfold, not many of us particularly enjoy the idea of fitting ourselves in with one of these tech giants. QKSMS provides a direct and open source alternative to private SMS applications.
It’s a great app that includes features like text scheduling, cloud backups, and message search. However, it may seem a little outdated compared to RCS-supported apps like Google Messages, so be aware that increased privacy comes at a price.
All map data on OsmAnd was sourced from OpenStreetMap, which is one of the greatest examples of a community building an open source project. The data is provided by individuals, using everything from aerial photography to local knowledge.
It includes features like GPS navigation, map comparisons, and customizable widgets. While it may take some time to unlock the full potential of OsmAnd, at its core it is an app that can easily rival giants like Google Maps.
LibreOffice & OpenOffice Document Reader
LibreOffice and OpenOffice are two of the most popular open source document editors. This application, although not associated with either OpenOffice or LibreOffice, allows users to open and modify Open Document Format (ODF) files with minimal hassle. It also integrates with apps like Gmail, Dropbox, and OneDrive, so you won’t have any trouble transferring files if you have to use a private cloud storage system.
AnySoftKeyboard is an open source alternative to Gboard with a clean and straightforward design. It values simplicity over a set of fancy tools, but there are still plenty of customization options. And while it includes useful features like voice input and gesture typing, you won’t see pop-ups and suggestions for various specialized features that you probably never will.
One advantage of using Google or Samsung products is the consistent experience across all of their apps. Usually we have to forgo this consistency when switching to an open source experience. Simple Mobile Tools is an excellent alternative. It offers 15 simple open source apps for free, which focus on privacy and simplicity over great features. It’s a great solution if you’re looking for a consistent experience across your apps. Applications developed by Simple Mobile Tools include:
Head to the Play Store landing page to download the apps. They also offer some paid versions of each app with additional features included.
Are you looking for open source alternatives to a specific Google App? Check out our roundup of the best open source alternatives to Google Apps.
Best Android phones in 2022
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