Open source apps offer Android users excellent alternatives to their mainstream competitors. Notably, as their source code is accessible to anyone, savvy users can see exactly what’s going on under the hood. And even though open source apps can track you, it is impossible to do this without the users’ knowledge. There’s also more community involvement with open source projects. The most popular open source apps are regularly vetted by users, to ensure a high quality is maintained.
Installing open source apps is a fantastic way of limiting your reliance on proprietary software while retaining the benefits of the services provided by your phone manufacturer. The Play Store is chock-full of fantastic alternatives, including well-known names like Firefox, ProtonMail, and VLC. We’ve 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 commands just 0.48% of the mobile browser market share. While its chunk of the browser market pales in comparison to Chrome (61.95%), it also doesn’t come preloaded on nearly every Android phone. In our comparison of Chrome and Firefox we noted the open source browser isn’t as consistently smooth as Chrome, but it does have a few nifty features and takes privacy seriously. If you’re worried about Google keeping tabs on your every move, Firefox offers a solid balance between privacy protection and advanced features.
While Firefox boasts better privacy features than Chrome, Brave tops them both. The only problem is that Brave isn’t as other browsers, so if user experience is important, you’ll probably want to stick with Firefox.
With an in-built ad-blocker, incognito tabs, and a native Tor connection, Brave is an easy choice for the privacy concerned user. To make things even better, Brave also has its own privacy-focused search engine. While the search quality is lacking compared with Google, it doesn’t track your searches or your clicks.
Abandoned by its original development team in 2020, Lawnchair has recently been taken up by a new team which promise to keep it updated. It’s designed to mimic the Pixel UI, so it’s a great choice for Android users who prefer that design.
Regularly updated to take advantage of brand-new Android features like Material You, and packed with features like drawer categories, automatic dark mode, and notification dots, it’s bound to impress anyone looking for a new open source launcher.
Open Camera is free, feature-packed, and has no ads. With more than 50 million downloads, it’s one of the most popular camera apps on the Play Store.
In classic open source fashion, the interface is definitely a little rough compared with apps like Google Camera or Samsung Camera, but don’t let that DIY aesthetic dissuade 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 in your basement. That’s where Good Weather comes into play, providing you with an open source weather app packed with features including detailed graphs.
Beyond the graphs, Good Weather displays your weather report in a clear and straightforward manner. It also offers a couple widgets, a frankly necessary requirement for any weather app.
The team behind ProtonMail is the same team behind ProtonVPN, a VPN designed to bring internet privacy to as many people as possible. ProtonMail is designed with the same lofty goals in mind, prioritizing user security and privacy above all else. Beyond that, ProtonMail is a beautiful app without the wonky UI elements you’ll find in many open source apps.
While Spotify is the top podcast app on the market, its relentless drive towards exclusive content to generate higher ad revenue is ruining the podcast experience. AntennaPod, is a completely open source podcast app that can help you overcome your Spotify addiction.
AntennaPos users can subscribe to their favorite podcasts via an RSS feed, and can import and export their data at will. The app is also entirely built by volunteers, so you won’t be bothered by advertisers while navigating it. Any ads you hear are placed by the podcast publishers, who receive 100% of the ad revenue.
VLC for Android
VLC has been a staple media player since it’s original release for desktop PCs in the misty days of 2001. Released on Android in 2014, VLC remains one of the best open source media players available.
VLC for Android can play any video or audio file, with all the features you would expect from a media player like closed captioning, teletext, and subtitles. It’s regularly updated as well, staying up to date with apps like Android Auto.
While the drama between Google and Apple over RCS and iMessage continues to bubble, plenty of us don’t particularly enjoy the idea of aligning ourselves with one of these tech giants. QKSMS provides a straightforward, open source alternative to proprietary SMS apps.
It’s a great app that includes features like scheduling texts, cloud backups, and message searching. However, it can feel slightly out of date compared with RCS-supported apps like Google Messages, so be aware the increased privacy does come at a price.
All mapping data on OsmAnd is sourced from OpenStreetMap, one of the greatest examples of a community working to build an open source project. 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 can take some time to unlock the full potential of OsmAnd, at its core is an app that can easily rival giants like Google Maps.
LibreOffice & OpenOffice document reader
LibreOffice and OpenOffice are two of the most well known open source document editors around. This app, while not affiliated 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 moving files around if you’re forced to use a proprietary cloud storage system.
AnySoftKeyboard is an open source alternative to Gboard with a clean and straightforward design. It values simplicity over a raft of fancy tools, but there’s still plenty of customization options. And while it includes useful features like voice input and gesture typing, you’re not going to see pop-ups and suggestions for various niche features you’ll probably never use.
One of the advantages of using Google or Samsung products is the consistent experience across all their apps. Usually we have to give up this consistency when switching to an open source experience. Simple Mobile Tools is an excellent alternative. It offers 15 free simple open source apps, that focus on privacy and simplicity over fancy features. It’s a great solution if you’re looking for a consistent experience throughout your apps. The apps developed by Simple Mobile Tools include:
Head to their Play Store landing page to download the apps. They also provide a few paid versions of each app with additional features included.
Looking for open source alternatives to a specific Google App? Check out our roundup of the best open source alternatives to Google apps.
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