A List of Open-Source Alternatives to Common Android Apps
Open-source applications offer a very good alternative to many common Android applications for people who are cautious about their privacy and security. For your convenience, we have selected only those applications that are available on Google Play Store.
AFWall+ – Firewall (Root)
[appbox googleplay screenshots dev.ukanth.ufirewall]
Modern computer users are well aware of the importance of firewall for the safety of their desktop operating system. The same level caution is, however, not found when it comes to our mobile devices. With the steep rise of attacks on smartphones and tablets, it is only natural to employ powerful defensive measures to stop attackers before they can cause any damage. AFWall+ is an open-source firewall solution powered by the powerful iptables Linux firewall. It requires root permissions due to its low-level nature. The app has a surprisingly great looking Material design and listing all its features would be a tremendous task in itself.
Just like other applications on our list, AFWall+ is available for free and the large open-source community around it contributed with translations to all major languages. You can visit the official support XDA forum and find out more about its development.
Amaze – File manager
[appbox googleplay screenshots com.amaze.filemanager]
Amaze is a very lightweight file manager based on Material Design guidelines and packed with all basic features and even some more advanced options. You can perform all common tasks including cut, copy, delete, compress, extract, and others. The app supports multiple tabs, SMB file sharing, themes, and cool icons.
You can quickly jump to the built-in app manager to open, backup, or directly uninstall any app on your device. The integrated root explorer is intended for more advanced users as it allows modification of system files, which could potentially cause a big damage.
New beta versions are regularly published on G+ community pages.
AntennaPod – Podcast manager
[appbox googleplay screenshots de.danoeh.antennapod]
AntennaPod is an open-source podcast manager for Android 2.3.3 and above. It offers all the basic features you expect from a podcatcher, like streaming and downloading episodes, refreshing all feeds automatically or adding them to a queue to listen to them later. Moreover, AntennaPod lets you flattr podcasts and episodes from within the app.
If you want to find out more fantastic podcast applications for Android, visit our “Top 5 Best Podcast Apps for Android” article.
Aperture Gallery – Image gallery
[appbox googleplay screenshots com.marlonjones.aperture]
Aperture Gallery wants to be different from many other gallery applications that clutter the interface with useless features and thus distract from what is really important – pictures themselves.
The simple Material design user interface includes basic personalization options like colors and dark mode. You can also manually choose which folders you want to include for more convenient browsing.
The app is still under heavy development with new features being added on a daily basis. Overall, Aperture Gallery is a very good alternative to QuickPic image viewer.
Etar – Calendar
[appbox googleplay screenshots ws.xsoh.etar]
Calendar applications are not among those that users tend to replace very often. Most users are content with the one that came pre-installed with their smartphone and live with its limitations.
We understand that paying for features that are available for free isn’t something that many people want to do. Luckily, Etar is completely free and able to do everything you would want your calendar application to perform. It comes with four different views (monthly, weekly, daily, and agenda view), Material Design interface, agenda widget for your home screen, and it even uses Android’s native calendar sync functionality to synchronize with Google Calendar, Exchange, and other solutions.
Lightning – Web browser
[appbox googleplay screenshots acr.browser.barebones]
Lightning web browser goes the opposite direction from many mainstream browsers that try to offer users ever larger number of features. Instead, it focuses on simplicity, speed, security, and efficiency. Its total size is less than 2 MB, which is very remarkable considering that it is able to do everything that regular browsers can.
The browser is built around WebKit rendering engine that is built into every Android device. This saves space, offers world-class compatibility, and allows developers to focus on other things.
Users can use Incognito Mode to browse without leaving a footprint, download Orbot and turn on TOR proxy support to mask identity and location. StartPage or DuckDuckGo provide with a solid and secure alternative to Google and Bing.The whole browser is open-source and hosted on GitHub for everybody to contribute and participate.
Material Audiobook Player – Audiobook player
[appbox googleplay screenshots de.ph1b.audiobook]
A solid audiobook player has to do a few things. It needs to remember the last position, be able to adjust playback speed, and turn itself off if you fall asleep. Material Audiobook Player is able to do all of those and more.
As the name suggests, this audiobook player is built around Material Design interface, which makes it very easy to use and navigate. There is absolutely nothing that could distract you from your ebooks and the player is able to get by with only minimal permissions and no tracking of your activity.
The high rating of 4.4 stars shows just how greatly optimized this app is. If you still manage to stumble upon some bug, you can easily report it to developers on their GitHub page.
ML Manager – App manager
[appbox googleplay screenshots com.javiersantos.mlmanager]
All versions of Android operating system are already equipped with application manager. However, the preinstalled manager leaves a lot to be desired in terms of its ease of use and overall design.
ML Manager is a customizable application manager for Android 4.0 and higher. It is able to extract installed and system apps and save them locally as .APK files. These files can then be shared with friends using services like Dropbox, Telegram, email, and any other file-sharing application you like to use.
The app doesn’t require root permissions, which makes it even more accessible to a wide range of users.
Native Clipboard – Clipboard manager
[appbox googleplay screenshots com.dhm47.nativeclipboard]
One important feature that Android still lacks is a proper clipboard manager. Copying and pasting text or images on a smartphone is much more cumbersome than it is on personal computers. The whole operation takes a lot of time and you always have to switch between different windows since you cannot have two of them next to each other.
Native clipboard provides easy and seamless access to anything you copied by simply double clicking the desired text field.Then choosing a clip will automatically paste it.
The clips can be swiped away to delete them, long clicked to view the whole text, pinned to prevent deleting (Using the 3-dot menu).
The application follows Material Design guidelines and if there is still something you would like to tweak about its appearance – no problem since the colors of the clipboard can be easily changed through the app. Other settings include sizes, limits, and sorting by the time or by a state.
Native Clipboards works either as an accessibility tool or as a Xposed module. Its source code is freely available on GitHub.
NetGuard – Block network access
[appbox googleplay screenshots eu.faircode.netguard]
NetGuard is a simple but very effective firewall that doesn’t require root access. Applications can individually be allowed or denied access to your WiFi and/or mobile connection. This can translate into a reduced data usage, longer battery time, and increased privacy and security. The application doesn’t use any internet permissions, which means that it cannot send your personal traffic anywhere.
If you don’t have root permissions then this app is a fantastic alternative to AFWall+.
Omni Notes – Note taking
[appbox googleplay screenshots it.feio.android.omninotes]
Omni Notes is a great looking open source note taking application, designed to be lightweight and simple without giving up smart behavior. You can do basic operations like add, modify, archive, trash, delete notes, share, merge, search notes, and work with multimedia attachments.
You can also take advantage of the built-in to-do list manager to organize your daily tasks and activities. The app comes with multiple widgets and support for lock screen task display.
PDF Reader – PDF reader
[appbox googleplay screenshots com.zreader.main]
PDF Reader is a simple PDF viewer for Android based on MuPDF Library. It’s completely centered around the viewing experience itself and as such the app supports only a handful of basic features such as bookmarks, text search, lock rotation, day and night mode, double page mode, flowing text, and thumbnail view for quicker browsing of your PDF library.
The app comes with non-intrusive ads that can be removed via in-app purchases.
QKSMS – Messaging app
[appbox googleplay screenshots com.moez.QKSMS]
The goal of QKSMS is to bring the magic back to text messaging. How does the app want to achieve this? It comes with a beautiful Material Design interface and almost 200 themes that users can choose from. The app is able to automatically adjust its appearance based on what time of day it is.
QKSMS also supports group messaging, MMS, delayed messaging, and Android Wear. You can customize how exactly are your messages displayed on your Android Wear watch. The app is completely free and without any ads. This is especially admirable considering that developers work hard every day to make it into the best text messaging solution out there.
Signal – Private messaging
[appbox googleplay screenshots org.thoughtcrime.securesms]
Signal allows you to communicate instantly while avoiding SMS fees, create groups so that you can chat in real time with all your friends at once, and share media or attachments all with complete privacy. The server never has access to any of your communication and never stores any of your data. Signal uses an advanced end to end encryption protocol that provides privacy for every message every time.
Signal is Free and Open Source, enabling anyone to verify its security by auditing the code. Signal is the only private messenger that uses open source peer-reviewed cryptographic protocols to keep your messages safe. The application uses your existing phone number and address book. There are no separate logins, usernames, passwords, or PINs to manage or lose.
Additionally, Signal allows you to create encrypted groups so you can have private conversations with all your friends at once. Not only are the messages encrypted, but the Signal server never has access to any group metadata such as the membership list, group title, or group icon.
Sadly, Signal is not currently compatible with tablets, but support for larger screens is on our roadmap and developers will include it in a future version.
SMS Backup+ – SMS/MMS backup to Gmail
[appbox googleplay screenshots com.zegoggles.smssync]
Those of you who love to tinker with their Android devices will understand how important a good backup solution is. SMS Backup+ is a great backup and restore solutions for your SMS, MMS, and call log entries.
Its main feature is a support for automatic backups that let you forget about the fear of ever losing your important conversations and personal messages with sentimental value.
SoundWaves – Listen and manage podcasts
[appbox googleplay screenshots org.bottiger.podcast]
SoundWaves Podcast is a simple and elegant solution for all podcast enthusiasts who don’t want to be bothered by invasive app permissions and unspecified data usage. The app is free and open-source and comes with a full support for gPodder, Chromecast, and Sonos.
We really like the intention of its developer to give back to the Android community without wanting anything in return. Go ahead and give this app a try, we guarantee that you will be surprised just how well it can stand against its competition.
spaRSS – RSS reader
[appbox googleplay screenshots net.etuldan.sparss]
Google may think that RSS readers are a thing of the past, but many users have a very different opinion. spaRSS is a modern, lightweight RSS client with an intention to keep this useful technology alive and ready for the next generation of users.
It allows everyone to easily add new feeds, choose between light and dark theme, import and export feeds from OPML file, retrieve the full text of the feed when the content is truncated, star favorite entries, search into articles, filter feeds by keywords or regular expressions, and take advantage of custom widgets.
The one thing it’s missing is the ability to synchronize feeds online between various devices.
spaRSS is hosted on GitHub. That is also the place where you can report any bugs or issues.
Twidere – Twitter client
[appbox googleplay screenshots org.mariotaku.twidere]
We won’t lie – the official Twitter client does a very good at what it does. It integrated all features of Twitter into a nice and convenient mobile package while also avoiding performance issues of Facebook.
Twidere for Twitter’s main feature is its very elegant Material design interface that seamlessly integrated with other native Android applications.
Some features of this interesting client include a built-in image viewer, customizable tabs, direct messages, powerful filters, draft feature, extension support, auto expansion of shortlinks, support for multiple accounts, and much more.
Developers promise that there won’t be any ads in the future and that the app will stay free forever.
VLC – Media player
[appbox googleplay screenshots org.videolan.vlc]
VLC media player is a portable, free and open-source, cross-platform media player and streaming media server written by the VideoLAN project. The project started 14 years ago is now available on many devices including iPad, iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone.
The Android port of VLC can play most files that the regular version can. Supported formats include MKV, MP4, AVI, MOV, Ogg, FLAC, TS, M2TS, Wv and AAC. You don’t have to worry about playback issues since all codecs are included with the app.
The built-in media browser makes file management and selection an easy task. You can select from multiple subtitle and audio tracks and control some of the most important playback options with handy gestures.
We have noticed that the app lacks some of the polish that we are used to from other Android applications. Features like fast forwarding seem to be slightly delayed, which can ruin the whole experience. However, developers are frequently bringing new updates and working hard to make VLC the best video player for Android.
Wallsplash – Wallpaper app
[appbox googleplay screenshots com.mikepenz.unsplash]
Wallsplash is a front-end for a Unsplash. Unsplash features 10 free high-resolution photos every day. The app gives you the freedom to easily browse a large collection of more than 3000 images and set them as a wallpaper with a single click.
Wendlerized – Workout tracker
[appbox googleplay screenshots se.johan.wendler]
Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 powerlifting system that uses a specific percentage of your one-rep max to lift 5 reps, then 3 reps, then 1 rep. The system is simple, yet very effective for trainees of all levels of proficiency.
This app will help you keep track of each main exercise and the order you complete them in with the ability to customize your workout increments, percentages and other statistics on the fly.
It adheres to simplicity and good design – just like the program itself.