F-Droid on Android

by on under smartphone
2 minute read

Depending on your take, Android might not be something you would associate with being respective of your privacy. Very bluntly and perhaps somewhat ignorantly put, there are two ‘versions’of Android; ‘Stock’ which ships with almost every smartphone - and AOSP (Android Open Source Project). Stock is basically AOSP with a lot of proprietary additions from Google.

There are different projects and fork that build upon the AOSP branch, like LineageOS, ReplicantOS. These projects don’t ship with the Google additions and are therefor more privacy-friendly. One project, GrapheneOS is - in my humble opinion - the best by far. It has a relentless focus on security, whereas others mostly aim for privacy and/or additions that benefit usability, performance, etcetera. Whether you use Stock, LineageOS, GrapheneOS or any other ROM, there are several applications that are able to serve your needs, for which you’d normally use proprietary applications.

F-Droid

First and foremost, the one app I can really recommend is F-Droid. It’s basically an appstore that solely offers open source apps. A really cool benefit is that it tests apps much better, way more thorough than the Play Store does. The F-Droid project collaborates closely with Exodus, for example, to properly test which apps employ trackers and other nastyness.

These apps are ones that are definitely worth a look/try:

  • Aegis Authenticator - A very decent TOTP two-factor application that supports encrypted backups.
  • Bromite - A fork of Chromium, patched to bash out links to Google, privacy violations and insecurities. Over the past year (at least!) they are really up to date with upstream. I favor Bromite over Firefox at any given time.
  • FairEmail - It seems like K-9 Mail is considered the flagship open source mailclient for Android. I can’t agree with that and consider FairEmail to be superiour. But disclaimer: I moved my mail away from my smartphone some months ago.
  • Maps - A fork of Maps.me, stripped of binblobs and adds a couple of features.
  • MuPDF mini - Minimalistic PDF reader. There is a more extended version available that allows annotations and filling out forms which I don’t do on my phone.
  • OpenCamera - This application tops the AOSP camera at any given moment. Once you try it, you’ll know what I mean quite soon.
  • OpenVPN for Android - The de-facto open OpenVPN client for Android. Has a very decent UX.
  • RedMoon - Redshift but for Android. Essential tool, nothing to add.
  • Termux - A great mobile terminal that can be extended through plugins.
  • Vinyl - My favorite music player. Plays everything you throw at it.
  • Wireguard -

Root users

If you happen to have a rooted Android, I can recommend Adaway; a system-wide adblocker. But I’d recommend against root in the first place ;)

Final remarks

android, privacy