Whether we talk about smartphones, desktops, or IoT devices, open-source software is omnipresent in some form.
While Android is already an open-source project, you can find proprietary and open-source applications.
And open-source Android apps can act as better replacements that respect your privacy than popular proprietary Android apps that you may already use.
Here, I have curated a list of the best open-source Android apps you can use as daily drivers.
I hope this list comes in handy for anyone you share it with!
The keyboard app is what you interact with the most when texting or searching for something.
Sure, options like SwiftKey may have been good in the past, but they are not so impressive anymore. Moreover, it only makes sense to opt for an open-source keyboard app that respects your privacy and works as one would expect (without any fancy features). Some of the best options include:
1. Simple Keyboard
As the name suggests, Simple Keyboard is a minimal option for users who want a straightforward keyboard app with no frills. It is an excellent alternative to Gboard, the default keyboard app by Google.
This may disappoint you if you want theme customizations and a few extra controls.
AnySoftKeyboard is my favorite, as it comes with all the essential features I need, including theme customization, quick text, and gesture support.
It can be a simple keyboard experience if you want or act as a tool you can do more with.
You can think of OpenBoard as Android's default keyboard app without relying on Google binaries.
So, if you like Gboard but hate its association with Google services, you can use OpenBoard, which is a simple and effective keyboard app
File Manager Apps
Every smartphone manufacturer loads up their native-branded file manager. Depending on your smartphone, you may already have a 'Samsung My Files' or 'File Manager by Mi'.
Unfortunately, the default file manager applications (including Files by Google) may not work the best. Moreover, they collect some usage data you may not want to share.
Some of the best open-source file manager options are:
1. Amaze File Manager
Amaze File Manager is a nice open-source alternative to options like Solid Explorer and EX File manager.
You get a material design user interface and the essential features to cut, copy, delete, compress, extract, and more. Also, you get to tweak the theme.
2. Simple File Manager
Simple File Manager is a helpful app from a developer team focused entirely on making 'simple' tools for mobile.
It is a lightweight and versatile file manager with essential file management features.
3. Little File Manager
Just want a small app to explore and access files? Little File Manager should be a good pick that lets you do the fundamentals like copy-pasting files.
Want to browse the web using a privacy-friendly and an open-source mobile browser? These options should suit well:
Mozilla Firefox is probably the favorite open-source browser for desktop and mobile users.
With Android, they have stepped up the game well, making it a pleasing, fast, and private experience. You can also try variants of Firefox, like 'Firefox Focus' which is a simple app that deletes your history once you exit.
2. DuckDuckGo Private Browser
DuckDuckGo private browser is an exciting option developed by the privacy-friendly search engine giant.
You get a minimal user experience sprinkled with special DuckDuckGo features like App Tracking Protection and Email Protection.
Suggested Read 📖
Bromite is a Chromium fork for Android that comes with privacy enhancements and ad-blocking capabilities.
You can download the APK from its official website or the GitHub page. Additionally, you can add its repository to F-Droid to install and manage updates.
4. Tor Browser
Tor Browser is based on Firefox but has enhanced security and privacy protections.
It may not provide you with the best user experience, but if you want maximum privacy during browsing sessions, the Tor browser can be a good choice.
Multi-Platform Sync or File-Sharing Apps
Whether you want to sync your notifications, control music, or share files/clipboard content, you may not want to use file-sharing apps with intrusive ads and poor privacy practices.
These apps can help you better:
1. KDE Connect
KDE Connect is a popular open-source application that lets you connect across devices like your Linux PC and Android mobile to share clipboard content, files, URLs, and notifications.
If you use KDE-based distributions, it comes built-in with the desktop experience.
LocalSend helps you send files to nearby devices (cross-platform). It is a simple, ad-free open-source alternative to several clones of Shareit on the Play Store.
Interestingly, along with iOS and Android, it also supports macOS, Microsoft Windows, and Linux. For many users, this can be a one-stop solution to share files safely across devices.
3. Warpinator (unofficial)
If you want a mobile port to Linux Mint's Warpinator tool, you can try this out.
Even Linux Mint developers have given it a mention officially. However, consider it an unofficial build with the same name.
4. Zorin Connect
Zorin Connect can be an alternative if you want something similar to KDE Connect but with a slightly better user experience.
It provides the same features to control music, and video playback, send files, control the mouse, and use your phone as a slideshow remote.
Podcast or Audio Book Players
If you want to listen to podcasts without any interruptions with a simple user experience, these foss podcast applications should help:
AntennaPod is a powerful open-source podcast manager and player that gives you access to various podcasts across the globe.
You can easily add (import and export) your feeds from other apps using RSS URLs, iTunes podcast database, or OPML files.
Voice is a straightforward player that lets you play/manage audiobooks with ease. The user experience is minimal but effective in letting you focus on listening to the audiobook instead of other functions.
It can be tough to keep up with all the information online or have a list of it organized. However, RSS readers always help with the task gracefully.
If you are tired of paying for options like Feedly or Inoreader, you can simply add/import your RSS feeds to these apps:
Feeder is my favorite RSS reader app for Android that provides a good user experience and a few customization options to filter/organize your feeds.
It does support a dark mode, so you can easily keep up with information without straining your eyes.
2. Read You
Read You is a relatively new app to join the RSS reader category, considering it follows Google's new Material You UI style.
It ticks all the essential features you need with an RSS feed reader and provides a pleasant user experience.
Need a full-fledged open-source news reader? NewsBlur is an exciting solution with a basic feature set to satisfy your needs.
It aims to be a replacement for Google Reader. Worth a try!
You will have to trust the company or service to protect your privacy for most VPN services.
However, if you use open-source VPN applications, you get a good amount of transparency of how the client-side of it works. So, open-source VPN apps may prove to be a better option than proprietary ones.
ProtonVPN is a popular option among privacy-focused VPN services. It offers valuable features like tracker blocking, secure core servers, and more to enhance privacy compared to other VPN apps.
Unlike some others, Proton's entire offering is open-source, which makes it a good choice to pick.
Suggested Read 📖
Mullvad is a unique VPN offering that does not need much personal information. It generates a unique random number to assign you an account that you use. You only have to use your payment information to subscribe.
Mullvad's app is open-source and can be a good alternative for users who do not prefer ProtonVPN.
IVPN is well-known for its brutally honest marketing. It informs you whether you need a VPN or not before you opt to purchase it.
The app is open-source and offers essential features with a simple user experience.
Comics or Manga Reader
Tachiyomi is an immensely popular free and open-source manga reader for Android.
You can browse content from various source or read download manga while being able to organize the library using categories. The reading viewer can be tweaked to adjust your experience and it also supports light/dark themes.
Kotatsu is yet another open source manga reader for Android. You can explore online catalogues, organize manga you read, and get an optimized reader with offline support.
It features the modern Material You user interface which could provide a better experience.
Need a smart comic book reader? Seeneva is a solid choice that may not be popular enough.
It supports various comic book archive formats like CBZ, CBR, CB7, and more.
Technically, the default music player should do fine if you only want to play music. However, if you want the ability to organize a library and also have a minimal music playback experience, these applications should suit well:
1. Simple Music Player
Simple Music Player is another utility developed by the same team behind the Simple File Manager app.
While it offers a simple experience, it features an intuitive user interface with options to group files, customize color schemes, and enjoy music.
2. Vanilla Music
Vanilla Music is a clean open-source music player that supports the most common audio formats and provides basic functionalities.
Notes can be personal or random scribbles. However, using a note-taking app that takes privacy seriously and gives you better security is essential. You might write something sensitive and should not share such information in a note-taking app with poor privacy practices.
Joplin is a fantastic open-source note-taking app also available for desktop platforms.
You can store your notes locally, encrypt them, sync them, and do lots more to organize things. The user experience may not be the most intuitive thing, but if you want an open-source, feature-rich note app, Joplin will not disappoint.
2. Standard Notes
Standard Notes is a convenient option that offers end-to-end encryption by default and stores your data in the cloud.
You can opt for the premium to extend its features. However, the basic functionalities should be enough for you to get started.
Suggested Read 📖
Simplenote is an easy-to-use note-taking app developed by Automattic (the company behind WordPress).
If you do not want fancy features or overwhelming options, this is the best open-source app to sync notes across multiple devices.
2FA and Password Apps
Managing passwords and two-factor authentication codes are crucial. Especially when we see proprietary password managers like LastPass getting regular security breaches, how can you even trust them?
So, you can try going with open-source options that give you better privacy and transparency for peace of mind:
KeePassDX is a simple and powerful password manager for users who do not want to sync their data with the cloud.
Bitwarden is the most popular open-source password manager that syncs across devices and browsers (with extensions). You can also store 2FA tokens here.
Unlike the above, it syncs to the cloud. However, it does provide industry-standard protections and more advanced features to protect your data. In addition, the premium for Bitwarden is affordable compared to other proprietary password managers.
3. Aegis Authenticator
Looking for an open-source replacement for Authy? Aegis Authenticator can be a good solution that supports industry-standard 2FA tokens.
If you are looking for enhanced privacy and security, open-source email applications are a must. Our recommendations include the following:
1. K-9 Mail (or Thunderbird)
K-9 mail is a popular open-source email client on Android with all the essential features.
In 2022, the K-9 mail's project maintainer joined Thunderbird to use Mozilla's resources and expertise to improve the K-9 experience. So, K-9 mail will eventually turn into Thunderbird's mobile app.
FairEmail is yet another open-source email client that supports accounts like Gmail, Outlook, and more.
It offers a simple user interface with plenty of useful features.
Tutanota is an encrypted email service. You can get started with its mobile app if you want to use it for enhanced privacy and security.
With a premium subscription, you unlock certain capabilities. Otherwise, you can use it for free.
4. Proton Mail
Proton Mail is another popular encrypted email service. It may provide a better user experience (that's what I prefer).
Both of these options are excellent recommendations for privacy-focused users.
An open-source video player should come in handy if you dabble with different file formats to watch media on your mobile. Try these out:
VLC probably needs no introduction. It is among the best open-source video/media players across multiple platforms.
It supports a wide range of file formats.
2. Nova video player
The Nova video player is an option if you need something different for a change with a good feature set.
Want a super simple video player? Mpv-android can be your pick.
The user interface does not get in your way and just works.
Want more FOSS with Android?
If you are experimental, technically competent and love the DIY stuff, you may even opt for other Android ROMs to take complete control of your smartphone.
It will be an endless list if we add open-source alternatives for all kinds of things like cameras, SMS, and more.
💬What is your favorite on the list? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments down below.