The default store on almost all Android phones is the Google app store, controlled by Google, who takes a 30% cut of all sells, integrates tracking services and decides what and what not to publish.
That’s why, whenever possible, you should use open source apps independently published.
F-Droid is an alternative to the Google app store where you will find only open source apps with no embedded advertising or tracking (and all of them are free, although I recommend you to send a few dollars to the developer of the apps you find useful).
When you need to install an application (e.g. a compass), look first on F-Droid and only if you don’t find what you are looking for there, then go to the Google app store (or, even better, go to the Aurora store, which I explain in another entry).
F-droid, obviously, cannot be downloaded from the Google app store. You have to manually download it from here.
When you can’t find what you are looking for in the F-Droid store (for example: a banking app) you have to resort to the Google app store but if you don’t have it installed (and you shouldn’t! because it has built-in proprietary services that run with administrator permissions that constantly send information of your phone usage to Google) you can use the Aurora store, which anonymously connects to Google’s servers to download the same app you would download from the “original” Google app store (and when I say “the same” I mean exactly the same, so there is no risk of downloading a modified version that takes over your phone or tries to steal information).
You can download the Aurora store from the F-Droid store.
Includes podcast search/discovery and lets you program automatic downloads (for example every night, when detecting a known wifi network). Podcast episodes are then added to the play queue by publication date.
Audio still plays while the screen is off and it remembers the timestamp of the currently playing episode when exiting the app.
You can download AntennaPod from the F-Droid store.
To synchronize the phone’s contacts and calendar with a remote server (for example with fastmail.com).
Very useful if you want to stop depending on Google services.
You can download DAVx5 from the F-Droid store.
The perfect instant messaging app (open source, end-to-end encrypted, federated, censorship resistant, …).
Now we just need to convince everyone to stop using whatsapp :)
You can download Element from the F-Droid store.
Fastmail official app. If you pay for it (and I recommend you to do so) you get email, contacts list, calendar and file storage.
You can download Fastmail from the Aurora store.
Install this service to automatically download (and keep up to date) the latest version of Firefox.
You can download FFUpdater from the F-Droid store.
To control a remote server running Kodi.
I use it like this: a RaspberryPi with Kodi connected to the TV (using HDMI) that I control from my phone.
You can download Kore from the F-Droid store.
Document viewer (PDF, XPS, CBZ, EPUB and FB2).
You can download MuPDF mino from the F-Droid store.
To watch YouTube (and other video services) with the following advantages:
- Does not send information to Google.
- Does not force you to identify using a Google account in order to save the list of the channels you subscribe to.
- Removes adds from videos.
- Option to download videos and/or audio.
- Option to play in the background and/or with the screen turned off.
- Option to send videos to the TV using Kore.
You can download NewPipe from the F-Droid store.
Alternative to Google maps with the following advantages:
- Does not send information to Google.
- Better maps on many cities (and we are encouraged to contribute with new data on OpenStreeMap to build a better world).
- Better hiking and bicycle routes.
You can download OsmAnd+ from the F-Droid store.
Use the “share” button from other apps to save links to “Pocket”. You can then read them later on the app itself or accessing the getpocket.com website.
You can download Pocket from the Aurora store.
Tune live radio stations from all over the world.
You can download RedReader from the F-Droid store.
Stock market ticker widget.
You can download Stocks Widget from the F-Droid store.
Special version of Firefox which automatically routes all the traffic through Tor
Useful when you don’t want to leave tracks on the Internet or when you need to access “.onion” addresses.
You can download Tor Browser from the F-Droid store.
Use this app to manage shared travel expenses. 100% offline. Incredibly useful!
You can download Tricky Tripper from the F-Droid store.
Music and video player capable of opening both local files and remote files (such as those shared from a video server running on RaspberryPi with Kodi)
You can download VLC from the F-Droid store.