Essential FOSS app picks – Part 2

This is the second part in a three part series which will highlight the best apps available in the F-Droid app store (most are in the Play Store too), all apps in F-Droid are licensed under Free Software licences such as the GPL and Apache licenses.

Getting started with F-Droid can be a little difficult after migrating from Google’s Play Store, many of the apps, proprietary, are not available for download in F-Droid which only supplies open source apps. Many apps people download from the Play Store are also recommended to people by word of mouth, as F-Droid usage is quite fringe so finding good apps could prove a more difficult task, hopefully this app round up series will get you over this hurdle.

5 – AdAway (F-Droid Exclusive)

adaway

Two years ago, Google decided it would remove all ad-blocking software from its Play Store, since then apps like AdAway have been confined to app centres like F-Droid.

This app does what it says on the tin, it blocks ads. The only gripe with the app that I’ve encountered is that sometimes it doesn’t update even though the settings tell it to, in turn ads have managed to get through, to remedy this you just have to manually press the “Download files and apply ad blocking” button.

I recommend this choice especially if you’re on an older device which is sluggish and for those who want to keep their newer devices running quickly for a longer amount of time.

APK available here.

4 – Episodes (F-Droid Exclusive)

episodes

Episodes as far as a I can tell is an exclusive to F-Droid although I could be mistaken. The app allows you to favourite shows you watch so they get listed at the top of the app making it easy to sort through shows which are currently airing. The point of the app is to tick off the episodes which you’ve seen. Episodes will tell you when an episode is going to air.

It’s got a huge catalogue of programmes listed including anime. The developer frequently updates the app too, bringing UI improvements and added functionality (although a countdown until the next episode would be nice.) Overall, if you watch TV shows then this is an essential app.

APK available here.

3 – VLC

vlc

Coming in at number three is VLC. I put this one here so that it followed the other TV app although it is just as good as the apps ranked one and two.

The popular desktop app now features on Android and still has the ability to play an extraordinary amount of video file types. In addition it can also play alternate audio tracks and subtitles.

You can lock the screen whilst watching content so that you do not accidentally alter the brightness and volume, which you can do by sliding up and down on the left and right portions of the screen. Locking also prevents you from leaving the app or skipping through the video.

The last noteworthy feature is the ability to play audio and video streams (you can play local audio with VLC too but Apollo is better suited for that.)

APK available here.

2 – MuPDF

mupdf

MuPDF is hands down the best PDF viewer on Android. In addition to the features listed on the F-Droid page, “MuPDF supports PDF 1.7 with transparency, encryption, hyperlinks, annotations, searching, form editing and more. It also reads OpenXPS and CBZ (comic book) documents”, MuPDF has the best way to navigate through documents.

We all know that phones aren’t ideal for reading PDFs however with MuPDF you can zoom into the text so that it’s readable and click on the left and right of the screen to go back and forward respectively through the document in a way that lets you keep the zoom level, it’s difficult to put into words exactly how it works, the best way to describe it is that it pans the entire page at the zoomed level when you tap the right hand side of the screen and eventually goes to the next page. Give this one a go, I’m sure you’ll find no alternative when you try out the navigation.

APK available here.

1 – K-9 Mail

k9mail

Unless I’m badly missing something I believe that K-9 is the only email client in F-Droid. When you start off with a de-Googled phone you may get the Android email client pre-installed, I recommend that you immediately download K-9 Mail over the Android client for a variety of reasons, the foremost, security.

This app does everything you would expect from an email client, it’s not the best looking client out there but it is the most feature packed. The only criticism I would level against this app is that the setting menus are a mess. When you are on the account screen and click settings you come to a different settings menu than the one you’d arrive at if you were in the inbox. On top of this, menus inside of the settings are labelled incredibly unhelpfully. I think I ended up searching forums on how to change email signatures because I couldn’t find it.

In the last part of the series I will be focusing on security essentials, one of the picks will be APG which can be used to make K-9 support encrypted emails.

APK available here.

If you didn’t see Part 1 of this essentials guide then you can view it here, Part 3 of this guide has been published too!

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4 thoughts on “Essential FOSS app picks – Part 2

  1. I’m curious, in what way is the stock email app insecure? Isn’t it open source as well? Just wondering if I should change my password now or something.

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    1. No its fine for general use. I’m saying with the APG app which I said I’ll cover in part 3 you get inline options to sign (verify email is from you) and encrypt your emails, stock email client doesn’t support that, that’s all, for general use it is OK though

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