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

Hello everybody.

I’d like to share my experience on this topic as well.
I only read about half of the posts so I hope the thread is still on to the original topic of how to live without google.

When I first got my Fairphone I had google services installed (reluctantly, but i thought I had no other choice) for about half a day, than I couldn’t stand all the permissions google asked from me to track pretty much everything I do. I reset the phone and started off differently. Now I use:

F-Droid as my main App Store. Every time I need an App I fist look here to find an open source, or - even better - a free (as in freedom) app. If you don’t know the difference read FreeSoftwareFoundation’s Article about the difference between free and open source. I think its nearly as important as the difference between FOSS and proprietary software.

  • Fennec F-Droid - F-Droid’s free-er version of Firefox - is my Browser with the following Addons:

    • Adblock Edge like the popular Adblocker “Adblock Plus” but without a preinstalled whitelist of accepted Ads. (that pay Adblock Plus to not be blocked)
    • As a search engine i use: Ecosia. Unlike DuckDuckGo it unfortunately does track your searches (It basically uses Google or Yahoo) but it gives 80% of its intake to a forestation project in the Amazon.
  • K9-Mail is my email client and I have a (FOSS, anti NSA, non-profit) email address.

  • OsmAnd has also been mentioned a lot already as the best App for Navigation. But actually I use the following more often:

  • Mozilla Stumbler, OpenWlanMap, Radiobeacon, Android IMSI-Catcher Detector and Sensorium to contribute to free location databases. I mostly use Mozilla Stumbler instead of OsmAnd as a map while walking, biking or driving shotgun.

  • µg UnifiedNlp for GAPPS-free devices (legacy) I use to get my location without GPS, by the help of above mentioned databases. It is a replacement for google’s proprietary and anti-privacy Network Location Provider Anti-Service.

  • Faster GPS, SatStat and FP1-EPO-Autoupdate are Tools to help with GPS troubles. I started a GPS Guide wiki post with lots of helpful tricks to improve GPS performance I gathered on the Forum.

  • Liberario is a great App for Public Transportation Navigation. Just select the City you live in and you’ll have access to routing, stations and arrivals/departures.

  • OpenCamera I prefer it over the stock camera because it has a lot more features and settings. It also has a cool widget that let’s you take a snapshot with just on click.

  • AnkiDroid is a great flashcards study tool I use to cram for tests.

  • Apps2Org and Home Launcher are two great Launchers that you can use alongside your standard launcher. With Apps2Org you can categorize all your Apps (new Apps you just installed and didn’t categorize yet automatically showing up in the “other Apps” category) and Home Launcher is a little popup Launcher with a folder system you can fill with Apps, and Shortcuts (e.g. to contacts Firefox Favorites and Apps2Org Categories). There are other Launchers available on F-Droid which you can use to replace the Fairphone Launcher. If you have different Launchers installed I recommend downloading Twisted Home. It shows a list of all your Launchers, lets you reset the standard launcher and set another one as standard. Very helpful if you get stuck in Null Launcher.

  • ownCloud I use as online storage and SimpleExplorer is my File Browser.

  • Dashclock Widget another must-have. Lots of extensions are available on F-Droid too, unfortunately since it’s released under Apache2 which unlike GPL allows for derivative works to not be open source there are many proprietary extensions, which of course are not available on F-Droid. But the open source ones are the most important anyway.

  • Crushr is another great Widget which displays a very simple and effective Todo List.

  • Muzei is a beautiful App for live Wallpapers from different sources. Like Dashclock there are great extensions on F-Droid and many others on Google Play.

  • Episodes helps you keep track of TV Show Episodes you have watched and new releases you have yet to watch.

  • QickDic is a great offline Dictionary which has lots of different languages.

  • AdAway is the Adblocker I use for my phone. Athough if you only use Apps from F-Droid you will not need it and if you use Apps from other sources some of them won’t work unless you whitelist some of their Ads…

  • Wi-Fi Matic is a great Tool. It remembers where the Wifis you have access to are and activates Wifi when you are close to one and deactivates it otherwize to save battery. It doesn’t use GPS but recognizes which Cell Tower is close to your Wifi.

  • Autostarts is a great tool to kill background processes of apps you don’t need auto-running all the time. You can also use it as a workaround for the “Checking for updates” again and again bug.

  • Permission Friendly sorts all your Apps from 0 (needs no permissions) to 2100+ (needs all kinds of permissions) and it also shows you which permission each individual App requires. You can then decide if you trust an individual app to use these permissions (e.g. obviously Firefox needs permission to access the Internet) and you can exclude these trusted apps from the list. this helps to decide if you should rather get rid of a certain app.

  • AndSys- Apps is another list of all your Apps with some great functions. I use it to see which non-launchable Apps I have installed because I tend to forget if I just installed one and it doesn’t show up under my Apps.

  • Secret Codes is a little App that lets you view the codes you can enter in the phone to access advanced settings.

  • Barcode Scanner is just what it’s name says. It’s a standalone App but can also be used within other Apps.

  • /system/app mover is a tool I have used to change iFixit from a system app to a normal app so I could download the new version with F-Droid. I tried the same with the stock android keyboard, but after I moved it I couldn’t find it anymore so I couldn’t uninstall and reinstall it. So I downloaded AnySoftKeyboard from F-Droid. The App description of /system/app mover states that you should only use it if you know what you are doing, which i obviously didn’t! :wink:

  • Galaxy Zoo is an app I sometimes use when I’m bored and I feel like doing something helpful instead of just playing a game. You get a random picture of a galaxy from a giant database of photos and with a few simple questions about what you see on the picture you help organize this database.

  • Puzzles is my favorite FOSS gaming app. It is a collection of some neat little puzzle games. Other than that I also have Hex and Mathdoku.

So that concludes the F-Droid Apps I use regularly.
I really prefer using Apps I downloaded from F-Droid because

  1. they are always at least open source
  2. they never need google services, which i will never ever install again.
  3. they are free (as in don’t cost anything), add free and non-profit. Which means they depend on donations, but I’d rather donate a 100€ a Year to my favorite App-Developers than pay 0,99€ some bullshit Game packed with Adds and constantly asking me to buy Coins or Credits to spend on virtual stuff in the game that have no value, while spying on me 24/7. Btw. I use Gratipay to donate.

Another “App Store” (or tools/“modules” database) which (I think) only has free software is the XPosed Framework. I only use it to have:

  • GravityBox A great tool to customize the look and functionality of Android along with some workarounds for problems you might have with the Fairphone.

Other Apps I downloaded without an App Store are:

That being said I do also use 1MobileMarket. Why and how?
I used to download free Apps that are only available on Google Play via Since there is no Google Account required its harder for google to track which Apps you use that way and since you can’t download Apps that cost anything you don’t support big closed-source corporations while not doing anything illegal. Also since I use an Ad Blocker and I’m not easily influenced by Adds anyway I am not tempted to let those Apps make profit with me any other way.
Problems with evozi were: The site was often overloaded, some downloads didn’t work, downloading an app took a long time and I needed to check for updates manually.
Thats why I now use 1MobileMarket, although the updates function is not working smoothly there either. I only download Apps that are also available on Google Play, which means they are save (in the sense of not having viruses or stuff like that, not in the sense of not spying on you!)
For me the biggest drawback for 1MobileMarket is that it only works if I whilelist its Adds so my AddBlocker won’t block them. And the Apps downloaded often are packed with lots of Adds too. I guess thats how they make their money, but again: not with me! I don’t click their adds and I don’t download Candy Crush Saga or Clash of Titans.

Oh and one thing thats important to me: I don’t use 1MobileMarket to update Apps I downloaded from F-Droid! F-Droid have a strict policy for which Apps and Updates they accept. That means that often Updates come quite delayed but if they come the Apps are still open source, Add-Free and not using any Proprietary builds or libraries or whatever (I’m not a developer so I don’t really know what that means but I understand that it’s important ;))

So now to the list of Apps I have downloaded via 1MobileMarket evozi (If anybody knows good foss alternatives to any of them please let me know!)
Duolingo (to learn different languages)
Elevate (brain trainer)
Lumosity (brain trainer)
Prognosis (medical case studies for students)
Medscape (tools for doctors)
Epocrates (tools for doctors)
Wiener Linien (mobile ticket for the viennese public transportation)
IMDb (ok I could just use the website, no real need for this app)
Whosampled (like IMDB no real need. also the app keeps telling me it needs google services, but it works fine without. probably needs them to display adds or something)
Buzz Launcher (unfortunately i like this one much more than the Fairphone launcher. its very customizable and has a large community of users who upload their homescreen skins. both qualities that usually go together well with open source, but like I said I didn’t find a homescreen launcher that compares on F-Droid)
Power Toggles (small highly customizable widget to quickly change settings, operate the music player or launch apps (or shortcuts). there is slider widget on F-Droid, but its not quite as good)
Nike Training, Runtastic, Runtastic Six Pack and Withings are my favorite fitness apps, the last of which i also have the hardware for so i won’t be able to substitute this app with a FOSS alternative until I find a open-source-hardware device to substitute the withings pulse/scale devices.

Wow that post ended up a lot longer than I anticipated. Sorry! :smiley:
If anybody reads all this he might know more about my phone-habits than Google would know had I kept google services installed! :wink:


EDIT 4.6.15: For quite a while now I’m finally not using 1MobileMarket anymore and I updated the list.