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Interesting free apps for Android devices (all from the "F-Droid" non-store)

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MX-16_fan
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Interesting free apps for Android devices (all from the "F-Droid" non-store)

#1 Post by MX-16_fan » Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:59 pm

During my holiday, I had the chance of thoroughly testing the lastest version of the rather freedom-oriented modular Fairphone 2 (https://www.fairphone.com/en/) (Mk. 3), using the Fairphone Open operating system.

I took the chance to extensively test a great number of applications provided by the Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) oriented F-Droid (https://f-droid.org/en/) repository.

Here's an overview about
  1. apps that in my opinion seemed interesting,
  2. apps I wasn't sure about and
  3. some apps that I liked less.
Might be interesting for some of you Android people.

The Fairphone Open version I used for testing, version number 18.04.1, was based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

What I didn't find at all, by the way, was an up-to-date backup app.


1. The following apps appeared to be interesting, and, if tested, didn't show any issues:
  • Amaze: File manager.
  • AndrOBD: OBD-II diagnostics tool (not tested).
  • Contact Owner: Shows owner information on locked screen.
  • Birthday Droid: Checks Contacts for birthdays and notifies you about them.
  • Blokada: System-wide ad-blocker.
  • Book Reader: A simple e-book reader.
  • BusyBox: You need this if you want to install the "/system/app mover" app.
  • Cache Cleaner: Can be configured to auto-clean the device's cache on startup.
  • Call Recorder: Enables you to record your phone calls. Please mind regulations on recording calls. I'd definitely think you should ask for prior consent before using it. App not tested.
  • CityZen: "Points of Interest"-oriented city guide. Based on the OpenStreetMap.
  • Compass: The only compass app in F-Droid that resembled an analogue compass and worked o.k.
  • Conversations: Conferencing software that's able to connect to free-of-charge Jabber/XMPP servers (not tested).
  • CosyDVR: Turns your smartphone into a dashcam. Please mind regard local regulations on the issue of dashcam use.
  • CuprumPDF: Fast PDF reader.
  • DictionaryForMIDs: Multi-purpose offline dictionary for Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs).
  • Dumphone Assistant: Can copy contact data to your SIM card (e.g. for emergencies).
  • Dynamic NightLight: Shows the time at night, avoids screen burn-in by moving the numbers.
  • Equate: Converter for currencies, temperatures, weight and length information, area sizes and volumes.
  • Fennec F-Droid: Web browser.
  • Firefox Klar: Web browser.
  • Freifunk Auto Connect: Helps you connect you to the German "Freifunk" free WiFi network (couldn't test).
  • Ghost commander: File manager.
  • GPS Test: Enables you to test your device's GPS connectivity, and to get your coordinates and altitude (useful in case of an emergency).
  • Here GPS Location: Shows your location's latitude and longitude. Data called from the GPS receiver or retrieved from your network.
  • Hourly Reminder: Makes your phone beep every time a new hour begins (some people claim that makes them work faster).
  • IceCatMobile: Web browser.
  • IsPhoneEncrypted: Checks whether your smartphone and/or inserted media is/are encrypted. Full smartphone data encryption is demanded by many company and local regulations.
  • JumpGo: Web browser.
  • LibreOffice Viewer: App for viewing Open Document Format for Office Applications (ODF) files on your smartphone
  • Lightning: Fast web browser.
  • Linphone: VoIP softphone and SIP client.
  • Mirror Mirror: Mirror application that uses your front camera. Unfortunately the application can't show you a mirror image the way you are used to, but might be useful for technical inspections.
  • Moon Phase: Moon phase information.
  • Net Monitor: "Monitors active network activity and provides information on the scanned connections and apps" (cf. https://f-droid.org/en/packages/org.sec ... etmonitor/), i.e. might be useful for checking which of your apps connect to the internet.
  • Open Note Scanner: Turns your smartphone into a provisional document scanner.
  • OpenWort: Offline monolingual German language Thesaurus. Useful when learning the German language.
  • PilferShush Jammer: Enhances security a bit by blocking your microphone via software.
  • PluckLockEx: Sensor-driven phone auto-locker. Locks your phone in case someone snatches it from your hand.
  • Privacy Browser: Explicitly privacy-oriented web browser.
  • QuickDic: Dictionary.
  • Red Moon: Changes your display's color temperature at given times (e.g. at night).
  • Root Verifier: Checks your root access, BusyBox installation, superuser app and device name.
  • Simply Solid: Enables you to choose a solid color instead of a desktop background image.
  • Sky Map: Shows you which stars that you see are which.
  • SoundWaves: A podcast application (not tested).
  • Suntimes: Shows you when the sun goes up and down in a given location.
  • Tap 'n' Turn: Solves the well-known smartphone autorotation problem in a most elegant fashion.
  • Termux: A terminal emulator.
  • Torchlight: An explicitly "privacy friendly" torchlight. Works well. Unfortunately, no S.O.S. signal functionality yet.
  • Transportr: Shows public transport connections.
  • WLAN Scanner: Provides you with dBm-, channel- and frequency information about your WLAN.
  • World Weather: Multi-location weather application.
  • Zirco browser: Another alternative web browser.
  • /system/app mover: Turns system apps into user apps (which then enables you to uninstall them)

2. The following apps are applications I wasn't sure about:
  • Android CUPS: Enables you to print to a printer that's in the same network. I wasn't sure whether using this potentially increases the danger of your printer system being intruded (which would make it insuitable in a business context).
  • FOSS browser: A web browser. Didn't like it because, according to the F-Droid webpage on it, it's based on Android's WebView (https://f-droid.org/en/packages/de.baumann.browser/). I don't, however, know if in that regard it's any different from other browsers in the above list.
  • OsmAnd+: Advanced offline navigation application. According to the F-Droid website, it has some anti-features (https://f-droid.org/en/packages/net.osmand.plus/). However, I'm not sure whether these anti-features were present in the version tested.
  • Port Authority: Gives you some information about your network. Interesting, but didn't really know what to do with it.
  • SeaMapDroid: A sea map. I couldn't figure out how to use this offline. A sea map doesn't make much sense if you need an internet connection for it.

3. And here's some applications which also seemed to be interesting, but which I personally didn't like in their current form:
  • BwareArea: This is to create an overlay that informs you about Points of Interest (POIs). Couldn't test it - it crashed on first start. In any case, depending on which POIs you want to be shown and when, you'd have to check regulations before using it.
  • FBReader: An e-book reader (https://f-droid.org/en/packages/org.geo ... i.android/). It being in F-Droid, I didn't like its semi-commercial touch.
  • Location Map viewer: Offline location map viewer. Led to crash (reboot) when not connected to the internet.
  • Open Camera: An advanced camera app that offers far more features than the default camera application. Unfortunately it seemed to be a extremely buggy.
  • Syncthing: Interesting non-cloud-based file synchronization tool, which, however, apparently can't do without some connection to a so-called "discovery server".
  • Torchie: A torchlight app that can be started by pressing both volume keys at the same time. Unfortunately it needs "observe text that you type & oberserve your actions", which IMHO is unacceptable for a torch app.
  • Torch: A torchlight app. Unfortunately, more permissions required than necessary IMHO.
  • TRIfA: A Tox client (more about Tox: cf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tox_%28protocol%29). Unfortunately, by default it requests permission for taking photos and videos. I guess this is because it wants to use the front camera for video conferencing. Unfortunately, Android 6.0 seems to offer permission sets only (not differentiating between "front camera", "back camera" etc.).
  • Night Light: Another display color temperature adjustment app. Unfortunately required root access.
  • Your local weather: Another weather application. Nice GUI, but couldn't invoke GPS.

All in all, I think it's great that the F-Droid people help getting freedom-oriented apps to Android devices.

As far as Fairphone Open and Android in general are concerned, I must state that I don't like them. For the 21st century, we need smartphones and smartphone operating systems on the market that are geared towards a maximum of privacy and freedom. While it might be tolerable that mobile telephony and data transport lead to a binary blobs for that exact purpose, everything else in a modern smartphone should consist of Open Source Hardware / Free Software combinations.

As far as the device and/or the OS tested are concerned: I found the system to be unreliable. Somewhere the system got a hickup, leading to some severe error in the network subsystem. Unfortunately I don't have the time to debug this.

My impression was that this issue was due to the fact that the Fairphone never seems to do a clean slow shutdown. There seem to be ways to trigger this via command-line, but I couldn't find a GUI of doing this.


You are welcome to add apps to this list that you consider worth having a look at.


Enjoy testing, and have a nice weekend,

Joe

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Re: Interesting free apps for Android devices (all from the "F-Droid" non-store)

#2 Post by xali » Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:34 pm

mx-16_fan wrote:You are welcome to add apps to this list that you consider worth having a look at
.

i am sure you would like this one https://www.f-droid.org/en/packages/org ... sscphase1/

two friends of mine gave me a good review of this one https://f-droid.org/en/packages/com.github.axet.maps/ but i never tried it myself since i like osmand. if you try it please give a review

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Re: Interesting free apps for Android devices (all from the "F-Droid" non-store)

#3 Post by bigbenaugust » Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:47 pm

I am using a bunch of stuff from F-Droid:
- AAT to track my bike rides
- I was a huge fan of K-9 Mail until I finally gave up and switched to Outlook over IMAP for work email.
- SAnd for a dumb compass
- DNS66 for non-root ad-blocking
- Termux for a shell
- And Bible for an offline Bible
- Lightning (as described above, a web browser)
Not that I ever play mobile games, but...
- FreeShisen for mahjongg functionality
- SolitaireCG for card games
--Ben

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Re: Interesting free apps for Android devices (all from the "F-Droid" non-store)

#4 Post by MX-16_fan » Sat Aug 18, 2018 5:22 am

@xali:
xali wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:34 pm
(...)
two friends of mine gave me a good review of this one https://f-droid.org/en/packages/com.github.axet.maps/ but i never tried it myself since i like osmand. if you try it please give a review
I remember looking at this, "Maps", and finding it interesting at first glance. However, it's based on MAPS.ME / MapsWithMe, and while I like that insofar as MAPS.ME provides an alternative to Point-of-Interest (POI) data provided by GMaps, I personally didn't like MAPS.ME's semi-commercial touch (see their website about this).


Greetings, and have a nice weekend, Joe

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Re: Interesting free apps for Android devices (all from the "F-Droid" non-store)

#5 Post by turtlebay777 » Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:08 am

In my Motorola Android I have replaced the standard Google browser with the new free Android version of Waterfox. Absolutely brilliant and combined with Ublock Origin there are absolutely no adverts at all.

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Re: Interesting free apps for Android devices (all from the "F-Droid" non-store)

#6 Post by MX-16_fan » Sat Aug 18, 2018 8:43 am

@turtlebay777:
turtlebay777 wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:08 am
... I have replaced the standard Google browser with the new free Android version of Waterfox. (...)
Did you remove the standard browser from your system? Greetings, Joe

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Re: Interesting free apps for Android devices (all from the "F-Droid" non-store)

#7 Post by xali » Mon Aug 20, 2018 2:16 am


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Re: Interesting free apps for Android devices (all from the "F-Droid" non-store)

#8 Post by MX-16_fan » Wed Oct 10, 2018 6:59 am

UPDATE:
  1. I'd remove Contact Owner from the initial list: While testing it with LineageOS 15.1 (which is a somewhat cleaned-up Android 8.1 (Oreo)), I noticed that this app asked for an absurd amount of permissions.
  2. F-Droid says that Cache Cleaner is no longer needed if using Android 6.0 or newer. However, I can't find any such function in LineageOS 15.1, so I guess it should remain in the list.
  3. Hourly Reminder: Would now drop this one as too many permissions required (especially "making phone calls").
  4. Throughput: This app should be added as Google seems to have ripped this important functionality out of Android. Should require fewer permissions, however.
  5. World Weather: Currently not available for LineageOS 15.1. Possible replacement: Privacy Friendly Weather.
  6. Zirco browser should be dropped from the list, as F-Droid says that the source code is no longer available.

Greetings, Joe

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