FOSS Alternatives for Apps & Services in Android

Hey there,

You might be wondering what are the Free and Open Source (FOSS) alternatives to most of the applications and services available on your Android powered device. As you know already, Android development is under the control of Google – the king of online behavioural tracking and specialists​ in targeted advertising.

According to Wikipedia, Android OS is actually open source but in ‘most’ devices it comes with proprietary components embedded with it. What does that mean? Is it really open source?

The answer is a big ‘NO’!

Well, I was also wondering the same and was looking for free & open-source alternatives to the conventional Android operating system, the apps and services, etc.

Operating System

To obtain primary freedom from all things Google, we can make use of custom ROMs like LineageOS, AOKP, Resurrection Remix OS, etc. These operating systems are licensed under free and open source licenses and is based on Android, that is – they are developed as a free and open source software but is based on the official Android versions released by Google.

Search App

First of all, the default Google Search app can be replaced with DuckDuckGo.
DDG claims itself as the search engine that doesn’t track you unlike Google which uses filter bubbles for personalized search results. Moreover, some of DDG’s source code is free software hosted at GitHub under the Apache 2.0 License, but the core is proprietary.

Calendar App

Utilities like Google Calendar can be replaced with Etar.

Etar is a material design calendar based on the AOSP (Android Open Source Project) calendar.

Home Launcher

Google Now launcher can be replaced with ADW.Launcher.

It’s licensed freely for anyone to use. It allows you to personalize dozens of different elements on any android device so that you can have a home screen designed in your own unique style.

Web Browser

We can replace Google Chrome with either Firefox or Brave Web Browser.

Firefox is a free and open-source web browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation.

Also Read: Add-ons for Speeding up Firefox on Android.

Mail Services

Also, we can switch from Gmail to ProtonMail so that we can get rid of Gmail completely.

According to their official website, ProtonMail is the world’s largest secure email service, developed by CERN and MIT scientists. Also, they released the source-code for the web interface under an open-source license. It’s quite easy to shift from Gmail to ProtonMail and forward all the new messages from the Gmail ID to the new ProtonMail ID. Checkout this for step by step instruction on how to migrate completely to ProtonMail.
Moreover, they guarantee privacy, end-to-end encryption, anonymous email and what more – it’s 100% free!

Video Streaming

Next, we can replace YouTube with NewPipe.

NewPipe is a YouTube client that doesn’t use any libraries that are dependent on Google’s framework or any YouTube API. It also lets you download YouTube videos with total privacy. The best part is that it lets you stream music in the background and do practically anything you can do with the official YT client.

Note Taking

Google Keep can be replaced with Orgzly | Notes & To-Do Lists

Currently Orgzly is not an open-source project. Since majority of its users are Org mode users or users of other free software, it is the most commonly asked question. But in case it becomes free, the codes can be expected in GitHub repositories.

Maps

Chuck out Google Maps and replace it with OsmAnd Maps (OpenStreetMap Automated Navigation Directions)

It is a free and open-source, global mobile map viewing and navigation app for offline and online maps for Android and iOS. It uses the OpenStreetMap (OSM) map database for its primary displays. The development of this project is being done on GitHub and the Android version is available under the GPLv3 license.

Instant Messenger

WhatsApp can be replaced with Signal Private Messenger or Wire Private Messenger.

Remember, WhatsApp was bought out by Facebook for a whopping $22 Billion during 2014. Why spend so much for just an instant messaging app with no Ads? Give it a thought and if you could come up with a proper answer, please do mention it in the comments section of this post!

Signal Private Messenger is a free and open source  application for phones, that employs end end-to-end encryption and allows users to send end-to-end encrypted group, text, picture, and video messages and have encrypted phone conversations between Signal users on iPhone and Android. It is licensed under GPLv3.

Also Read: Three Reasons which made me Hate & Quit WhatsApp forever.

Social Networking

We can try to migrate from Facebook to diaspora* – a privacy-aware, distributed, open source social network.

It is a non-profit, user-owned social network that is based on the free Diaspora software. It consists of a group of independently owned nodes (called pods) which interoperate to form the network. It is not owned by any one person or entity, keeping it from being subject to corporate take-overs or advertising.

Music

Google Play Music can be switched with Vanilla Music.
Vanilla Music player is a GPLv3 licensed MP3/OGG/FLAC/PCM player for Android with the following features :
– Multiple playlist support

  • Grouping by artist, album or genre

– Plain filesystem browsing

– ReplayGain support

  • Headset/Bluetooth controls
  • Accelerometer/Shake control
  • Cover art support
  • ScrobbleDroid support for Last.fm integration

Android App Market

Google Play Store can be replaced with F-Droid.

F-Droid is a robot with a passion for Free and Open Source (FOSS) software on the Android platform. F-Droid has an Android client to perform installations and updates, and news, reviews and other features covering all things Android and software-freedom related.

Document Viewer

Google Docs and Microsoft Office Suite can be ditched and can be replaced by LibreOffice Viewer.
LibreOffice is the world’s most popular Open Source office app. It uses the same engine as LibreOffice for Windows, Mac, and Linux. This, combined with a new front-end based on Firefox for Android, reads documents similarly to LibreOffice Desktop.

That’s all for now. Currently hunting for more FOSS applications, I will update the list as and when I come across new alternatives.

Hope this list helps someone in search of FOSS alternatives to the traditional apps & services available in existing versions of Android by Google.

Thanks to Wikipedia and DuckDuckGo for helping me out in preparing this list.

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