Open source apps provide Android users with great alternatives to their main competitors. Notably, since their source code is publicly available, advanced users can see exactly what’s going on under the hood. And while open-source apps can track you, it’s impossible to do so without users’ knowledge. There is also greater community involvement in open source projects. The most popular open source applications are regularly reviewed by users, to ensure that they maintain high quality.
Installing open source apps is a fantastic way to limit your reliance on proprietary software while still retaining the benefits of services provided by your phone manufacturer. The Play Store is full of fantastic alternatives, including well-known names like Firefox, ProtonMail, and VLC. We’ve rounded up 13 of the best open source apps for Android, to help you get started in the world of open source apps.
In February 2022, Firefox held just 0.48% of the mobile browser market share. While its share of the browser market pales in comparison to Chrome (61.95%), it also doesn’t come preloaded on nearly all Android phones. In our comparison of Chrome and Firefox, we noted that the open-source browser isn’t as smooth as Chrome, but it does have some nice features and takes privacy seriously. If you’re worried about Google keeping tabs on your every move, Firefox strikes a solid balance between privacy protection and advanced features.
While Firefox offers better privacy features than Chrome, Brave outperforms them both. The only problem is that Brave isn’t like other browsers, so if user experience is important, you’ll probably want to stick with Firefox.
With a built-in ad blocker, incognito tabs, and 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 lacking compared to Google, it does not track your searches or clicks.
lounge chair launcher
Abandoned by its original development team in 2020, Lawnchair has recently been taken over by a new team that promises to keep it up to date. 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 loaded with features like drawer categories, automatic dark mode, and notification dots, it will impress anyone looking for a new open source launcher.
Open Camera is free, feature-rich, and ad-free. 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 certainly a little rough compared to apps like Google Camera or Samsung Camera, but don’t let that DIY aesthetic deter you.
Although the best open-source weather app looks out the window, it can be difficult to check the weather at night or in your basement. That’s where Good Weather comes in, giving you an open-source weather app with features like detailed charts.
Beyond graphics, Good Weather displays your weather report in a clear and simple way. It also offers a few 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 best podcast app out there, its relentless drive for exclusive content to drive 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 built entirely by volunteers, so you won’t be bothered by advertisers while browsing through it. All of the ads you hear are placed by podcast publishers, who receive 100% of ad revenue.
VLC for Android
VLC has been a staple media player since its original release for desktop computers in the hazy 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 expect from a media player like closed captioning, teletext and subtitles. It’s also regularly updated, staying current with apps like Android Auto.
As the drama between Google and Apple over RCS and iMessage continues to bubble, many of us don’t particularly like the idea of aligning ourselves with one of these tech giants. QKSMS provides a simple, open source alternative to proprietary SMS applications.
It is a great app that includes features like text scheduling, cloud backups, and message search. However, it might feel slightly outdated compared to RCS-supported apps like Google Messages, so be aware that increased privacy comes at a price.
All map data on OsmAnd comes from OpenStreetMap, one of the largest examples of a community working to build 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. Although it may take some time to unleash the full potential of OsmAnd, at its core is an app that can easily compete with giants like Google Maps.
LibreOffice and OpenOffice document reader
LibreOffice and OpenOffice are two of the best known open source document editors. This application, although not affiliated with OpenOffice or LibreOffice, allows users to open and edit Open Document Format (ODF) files with minimal hassle. It also integrates with apps like Gmail, Dropbox, and OneDrive, so you’ll have no problem moving files around if you’re forced to use proprietary cloud storage.
AnySoftKeyboard is an open source alternative to Gboard with a clean and simple design. It values simplicity over a host of fancy tools, but there are still plenty of customization options. And while it includes useful features like voice typing and gesture typing, you won’t see pop-ups and suggestions for various niche features that you’ll probably never use.
One of the benefits of using Google or Samsung products is the consistent experience across all of their apps. Usually we have to let go of this consistency when moving to an open source experience. Simple Mobile Tools is a great alternative. It offers 15 simple and free open-source apps, which emphasize privacy and simplicity over fancy features. It’s a great solution if you’re looking for a consistent experience across all of your apps. Applications developed by Simple Mobile Tools include:
Head over 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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