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Alternative Apps(tores): Living without Google (FP1)

livingwogoogle
f-droid
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#1

Continuing the discussion from Welcome! Introduce yourself here!:

Hi all!

I had thought about opening a post about living without Google Apps, so @jerry1970 set the ball rolling.

First of all: I use only one App-Store at the moment, namely F-Droid (For all F-Droid apps, which work for FP1(U)/2, go here). Besides I have Blankstore installed, but haven’t used it yet. Some apps I downloaded from Evozi APK Downloader or from their respective webpages.

F-Droid features only 100% FOSS (Free and Open Source Software), but it also reminds the user if an app advertises non-free add-ons (like Fennec F-Droid / Firefox Mobile).
Blankstore lets you access the Play Store without installing Google Apps. I have not tested it.
With Evozi APK Downloader you can paste a Google Play Store link and download the apk-file independently from an app store.

So here are the most of the apps I use, with a description and where to find them:

  • /system/app mover (F-Droid): This app can make normal user apps to system apps (e.g. if F-Droid is a system app, you can uncheck “Unknown Sources” in Settings > Security.). It needs Busybox to run.
  • Add to calendar (F-Droid): Used to import individual ics-calendar-files (like from the regional transport webpage anachb.at). For online iCalendar files I use ICalSync2 (see below).
  • AFWall+ (F-Droid): A simple Firewall, which I use to block internet access from various apps, among them the stock browser, which is vulnerable because of the Webview bug.
  • Amaze (F-Droid): A beautiful file manager with root privileges. With it I can access all system files, open zip-files and modify text files.
  • Autostarts (F-Droid): I use it to block some apps from starting automatically, like the default E-Mail app (I use K-9 Mail - see below).
  • Barcode Scanner (F-Droid): Good app for reading QR-Codes (also reads calendar-QRs or contact-QRs).
  • CatLog (F-Droid): Read out system logs, search for keywords and create text files of logs.
  • DashClock Widget (F-Droid): It is a nice way to display notifications and the weather on the lockscreen.
  • DAVdroid (F-Droid): I used it to synchronize my Fairphone 1 to my owncloud caldav server and subsequently to Thunderbird on my Windows 7 desktop.
  • Episodes (F-Droid): @paulakreuzer made me aware of it here. Episodes lets you keep track of your favourite TV shows (Currently I am watching StarTrek: TOS, Season 3, from 1969 :slight_smile: ).
  • Fennec F-Droid (F-Droid): I think it is much easier to use than the default browser on the FP1 because it has a nice GUI. Plus it features an easy-read-mode and a read-later-list, where you can save pages offline. Besides you can expand the functionality as known from the desktop version, and there is also a Firefox Marketplace, where you can even download (almost) stand-alone HTML5-apps. (There are some nice free games on there). Fennec F-Droid is not affected by the Webview bug.
  • GravityBox (Xposed Module Repository): Let’s you personalize everything! I have an orange notification bar, for example… :slight_smile: Also it provides a lot of useful modification to the OS, which make the use of the phone easier and faster. Try it out! (You need the Xposed Framework to run it.)
  • ICSdroid (F-Droid): It’s provided by the same Austrian developers, who make DAVdroid. Only this one helps to synchronize *.ics online calendars.
  • K-9 Mail (F-Droid): Great e-mail client, which fully replaced the stock e-mail app for me. (I also use K-9 Mail DashClock add-on).
  • KISS launcher (F-Droid): A great, simple launcher: Type to find.
  • List my apps (F-Droid): Nomen est omen.
  • MemoPad (F-Droid): Doodle on your touch screen and share the pictures.
  • Mozilla UnifiesNlp Backend (F-Droid): Lets you use Mozilla’s location provider on your FP1(U). µg Unified Nlp is needed (see below).
  • MyExpenses (F-Droid): Helps me keep track of my expenses. There is a backup function and a export to excel. Plus a lot of functions, I think you need a business diploma to understand… :wink:
  • Notable (Evozi): This is a light-weight app to handle your tasks because it displays them in the notification bar and every time you slide down, you get reminded. In the latest version the developer even added alarms, still it doesn’t need any permissions.
  • OsmAnd~ (F-Droid): This one is also GREAT: It is a must have because without Google Play there is also no Google Maps. But who needs it, if you have OsmAnd~!? It is a bit more complex to use, but it also has a huge functionality, featuring all the usual functions we know from Google Maps, like navigation. But there is also the possibility to choose among a lot of different maps (like MS Bing-Maps, OSM (OpenStreetMaps), and also country-specific apps). Also you can easily record GPS-tracks and save them as GPX-Files. And since OSM comes with a lot of POIs (Points of Interest), you can display them all on the map, or filter them to display only those you want to see (like I did with the citybike stations). Best feature: You can download OSM-vector maps and store them offline on your phone!!!
  • Polite Droid (F-Droid): Great app, which automatically silences your phone during calendar events.
  • SatStat (F-Droid): I use it to verify the visible GPS satellites and to check the phone’s sensors.
  • Share to clipboard (F-Droid): Doesn’t have a GUI, but adds the option of copying to the clipboard to the share menu (some apps don’t let you share to SMS, but using this app you can at least paste the info manually).
  • Terminal Emulator (F-Droid): A command line interface for your phone.
  • Titanium Backup (F-Droid): Titanium Backup makes me perform updates more light-hearted because I can be sure that my app data is safely stored. I backup to my SD card, so even if the internal storage gets wiped, I don’t have to set up every part of my phone anew.
  • Twidere (F-Droid): A Twitter client (find me through @StefaBrand ;)). Much more functionality than the official one, a lot of personalization-options. I also tweet using the hashtag #austrianfairphoners.
  • VLC (beta) (F-Droid): Instead of the default music app, I use this one because I think it displays the music library better. Also you can easily play network streams. And for me it just looks nice :).
  • WhatsApp (downloadable through their website): Just because everyone has it…
  • WPS Office (formerly Kingsoft Office) (Evozi): Also indispensable for me because it can display all MS Office files and PDFs in one app.
  • Xposed Installer (their website): Is needed for GravityBox (see above).
  • µg UnifiedNlp (F-Droid): Is needed for Mozilla UnifiedNlp Backend and other backends to provide location lookup, even without Google Services installed.

What are your alternatives to Google Play? Which alternative apps do you most like?
I am looking forward to hear some new ideas!

Greetings from Austria
Stefan

PS.: Maybe we could create a page here on the forum where we collect the must-haves (like in my opinion OsmAnd~)!? Edit3: Here it is! (Kudos to @paulakreuzer) :smiley:

Edit: I’m not using 1Mobile market anymore, but kept WPS Office.
Edit2: @paulakreuzer provides a very complete list of his (mostly open source / free) apps here.
Edit3 on 28.08.2015: Complete update.


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:de: FP2_Google verpflichtend?
#2

Thanks for this! I have used this site a few times:
http://apps.evozi.com/apk-downloader/

It lets you enter a Google Play Store ID and then download the APK (the app install file). No google account required. They’re limited to 250 APK downloads per day, though, so maybe another source for storing the APKs would be a good idea. It’s not a piracy tool, it’s only for the free apps. I’ve downloaded several apps through there already that are usually only available through the play store, like Telegram (don’t like Whatsapp) and Facebook. I also have OsmAnd, but I don’t remember whether I

I am still looking for a good calendar app. I have used Jorte, now aCalendar. Jorte has cute icons, aCalendar a better view. I hope to find a good combination and one that has a synch option, preferrably with my own server.

Jerry


Living without Google 2.0 - A Google free FP2
Is it possible to have a different ringtone for each sim?
#3

Actually, quite a few games are listed as a few megabytes in the appstore while in reality they are bigger because additional content packages are downloaded after installation at first run. Here’s the first example that comes to mind: Need for Speed Most Wanted. It’s listed as only 12MB but when you run it the first time after installation, it’ll download a content package that’s like half a gigabyte in size.


#4

Don’t forget the Amazon Appstore:
http://www.amazon.com/getappstore


#5

What’s your experience with the Amazon appstore? Do you need an Amazon account?

I worry that I open the door for another big company it won’t be a difference to Google.


#6

I haven’t used it much. Had it installed on my previous phone for a while because they offer a new paid app for free every day, but I hardly made use of that offer so I didn’t bother installing it on my Fairphone. You do need an Amazon account. I’ll let each be their own judge about what that means for handing over your personal info to a big corporation.


#7

I do not use any Google apps, too, and it works fine!
I only use Open Source apps, except some drm-free humblebundle Games.

here my most loved open source apps I recommened (all downloaded from f-droid):

  • ChatSecure/Conversations: great XMPP clients (XMPP is something like Whatsapp or Telegram, but completely open source and awesomerer and decentral and stuff. go find out and use it!
  • Apollo: nice music player app
  • FeedEx: cool Feedreader app.
  • Firefox: it is also nice that you can run their html5 apps on it.
  • OsmAnd: as mentioned up there, in my opinion the best OSM app that exists
  • VLC: nice for Videos

Living without Google on a phone is totally comfortable for me, and after a while you notice you dont even really need them.

edit:
I also love RedReader (cool, good looking reddit reader),
The Diaspora webapp (could be a lot better, yet the easiest way to access Diaspora on your phone) and
Liberario, cool open source app for public transport. You should also be using k-9 Mail, because it is cool. All installed fron fdroid, too. have a nice day!


#8

How do you install FDroid?


#9

You can download F-Droid through your browser on the Fairphone and click on the file. It will install automatically.


#10

I would not, in any case recommend using or installing that store (1Mobile) or similar offerings. What sense does it make to do not use Google Appls but then install a AppStore with such a strange catalog. I am pretty sure that the Google Goggles app in 1Mobile was not published there by Google. Who is that company 1Mobile? How to they make money? They don’t even have an “impressum” (missing the english word currently) In fact such markets tend to be full of illegal or stolen software and really make your phone less secure. If you want access to all the Apps, install the official Google Apps provided by Fairphone. If can live with a less complete selection - and trust amazon.com more then google - the Amazon App Store might be an alternative.

Edit: See CNET for some comments about 1Mobile http://de.download.cnet.com/1Mobile-Market/3640-2071_4-75450771.html were several users report malware and cracked or pirated apps. Again do not trust such “stores” as 1Mobile. You never know which apps are pirated and which contain malware. Think of all the sensitive information you store on your smartphone.

This on the other hand is trustworthy in my opinoin. It is made by passionate open source enthuisiasts who take care of the Catalog and only contains Free Software.


#11

I had the App Store installed for some time. Yes, you definitly need to log in with your Amazon account and possible even have to provide credit card information (not sure about that).


#12

The CNET Editor’s Review does not seem that bad: http://m.download.cnet.com/1mobile-market/3000-2071_4-75450771.html
As I stated above you need to have some experience with apps and internet security in general, to identify risks. For inexperienced users G Play definitely is the best choice.


#13

@ben: You could try whois 1mobile.com for address/contact information.
http://maruyuki.net/1mobile-market/ found out that it’s the same guys that are behind brothersoft.com (Tech City: Beijing).
Google Translate: "[…] Risk is not so high, perhaps, but the suspicion of copyright infringement is so strong, it should not be used as a sensible adult […]"
They are also behind http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koramgame for more information.

I’m also interested on how to live without Google on a Google OS!?! :wink:


#14

Android is not a Google OS, see Wikipedia for further information.

Greetings

Tom


#15

The Google Services are just convinience services, but altough they are for free you give up a lot of your privacy. But that is not the main problem I have got with Google. Also I didn’t install Google Apps out of performance reasons. I don’t want too many services and stuff running in the background, using memory and battery.

So in my opinion it is perfectly possible to live without Google. See the apps above!

PS.: Did you know that in the A-GPS Settings you can choose between Google Servers and Nokia Servers to determine your position? Of course I chose NOKIA!!! :wink: (Like in the old days…)


#16

F-Droid is indeed a great app store! For email I use K-9 Mail; it works better than the default Android Email program (especially with IMAP). One reason for me to still have Google Apps are the TextSecure and RedPhone apps (both by Open Whisper Systems) which provide free open source encrypted messaging and voice calls. TextSecure is a perfect replacement for the default SMS app, as it allows for (encrypted) SMS, but it can also use data/WiFi.

Other apps:

  • Document Viewer (F-Droid): good PDF viewer
  • AntennaPod (F-Droid): great podcast app (start listening to This American Life and Radiolab!)
  • Torch (F-Droid): flashlight

#17

I do not think that makes them more trustworthy. It should not be required to know “what whois” means and does to find that out (i know whois but this not something everyone knows). I would still not recommend using such “stores”.

Suprisingly good. I choose the most important apps from F-droid and use mobile websites instead of apps for other thinks like train information. If bought some Humble Bundles for Mobile and with that have more games then i can play. I sacrificy Quizduell and Google Maps, DB Navigator and WhatsApp for this experiment, but still the phone is very usable without Googles Apps.

Your are technically right, but i think it is perfectly ok to call Android a Google OS. The Open Handset Alliance wikipage you linked to refers to Google as Parent Organisation.


#18

That’s not what I suggested. I just thought that was interesting to mention since I think brothersoft is as untrustwhorthy as well.

Nice.
I’ve received my FP1U this morning and it seems there are already some GApps installed. How do get rid of them? I think I saw something about installing FPOS or was it AOSP again …?


#20

In order to get the Stock Android (AOSP) you have to launch the Fairphone Updater (eventually upgrade to Cherry (1.6), then launch it again) and then selecting “Stock Android”.
See here as well

Cheers!


#21

Same here. I still use the Google App Store, because without Google Services I wouldn’t be able to use TextSecure (the best Instant Messenger imho) and Redphone. Luckily, OWS have announced, that they are working towards using WebSocket in later versions.
Until then, I’m forced to continue using the Google Services like App Store and GCM.