Why Should You Use F-Droid? Bonus: 5 Must-Have Apps Available Only On F-Droid
Gary Marshall |Aug 19 |793 views
When we think about downloading Android apps, it seems that the Google Play Store is the only place to do this. But you will be pleasantly surprised when you find out that there are a lot of other popular alternatives. One of the most famous is F-Droid. One thing, the store lists only free and open-source software. So if you want to install a paid commercial app, most likely you will not find it here. But if it comes to free software, F-Droid is exactly what you need. Today, you will know more about the store, its usage, and its advantages over Google Play.
F-Droid: key facts and featuresF-Droid is the store for Android apps similar to Google Play. It was created in 2010 by a British computer game programmer and software engineer — Ciaran Gultnikies. The source code was taken from Aptoide’s fork. There is an app’s marketplace which allows the users to control its store. F-Droid has gained huge popularity among different non-profit organizations. For example, Replicant, an Android open-source operating system, set F-Droid as a default app store. In 2012, the Guardian Project, a worldwide unit of designers, advocates, software engineers, marketers, and other people who encourage using open-source mobile security software and cutting-edge enhancements, started to run their own F-Droid repository. Moreover, the product was selected as part of the GNU Project's GNU a Day initiative and added to a popular promotion campaign Free Your Android! by the Free Software Foundation Europe. Today F-Droid lists almost 3K apps. In contrast, Android-default Google Play Store has more than 1.4 million. The non-profit organization F-Droid Limited runs the project. All members are volunteers; therefore, there is no official app review process before adding it to the store. New apps are added by users or developers confirmation.
Why choose F-Droid?As we mentioned above, there are almost 500 times fewer applications on F-Droid than on Google Play. Hence, the logical question is: “Why should I use F-Droid instead of Google Play?” There are several advantages. The first one is that you do not have to register on the store if you want to install an app. Secondly, all apps that are listed on F-Droid are free of proprietary software. Broadly speakiпg, it is necessary for the apps to have so-called ‘anti-features’:
- No advertising;
- No user tracking systems;
- There is no dependence on non-free software. It means that you can download, run, and use all the features of the application with no limitations.
- It sends any kind of information over HTTPS;
- Avoids leaking application search;
- Includes all supported languages in its metadata;
- Supports Tor, an anonymous browser.
Where can I download the F-Droid app?If you decided to try to use F-Droid, your first step is installing it on the mobile device. There is an important thing you should know: there is no F-Droid app on Google Play store. It contradicts the main F-Droid rule: not to use proprietary software. Moreover, Google Play is a direct competitor of F-Droid. Therefore, to download the app, you have to open the installation page on the official F-Droid’s site. There are several ways to download the application:
- Via a direct click;
- Via a PGP Signature;
- Via a QR-code.
What does F-Droid look like?F-Droid has a straightforward and intuitive interface. Here, you can perform all the Google Play actions, such as browsing the apps by categories, searching for them via the search bar, and reading the description. The big advantage of F-Droid is that it has secure update notifications (of course, in addition to securely signed downloads). In the settings tab, you can configure whether you want to use an auto-update feature or receive notifications when the applications are ready for updating.
How to install the app from F-Droid?F-Droid has almost 3K apps, but their number is growing every day. You can get any app that is compatible with your device. Just go to the “Available” tab. The first screen you will probably notice is “What’s New.” Here you can find the just-added apps. If you switch to “All” tab, you can browse all applications listed in the open-source market. You just need to tap the application you want to download on your smartphone. Unlike Google Play, F-Droid does not show the previews or screenshots on the main app’s page. For more information, click on three buttons at the top right corner and choose the option (Website, Issues, Source Code, Market, Donate) from the drop-down menu.
How to add a repository to F-Droid?Users can add as many of their own repositories to the F-Droid app as they want. Follow these steps to add the new repo to your app:
- Scan the QR-code of the repo you want to add;
- Download and install F-Droid;
- After that, press the link you got on the email;
- Then, click on the “Add to F-Droid” button;
- Choose the option “I have F-Droid”;
- After that, in a new window “Add new repository” fill the fields and click OK;
- The repository will be added automatically. You can see it in the Settings tab. Tap on it and choose the apps you want to install.
- Click on the “Nearby” option at the bottom menu;
- Tap “Find people near me” so you can see the devices around you;
- Select the contact you want to connect;
- Once the connection is created, choose the app you want to share and tap the “ —>” button;
- A person needs to confirm the sharing for the app to be installed automatically.
Bonus: the most popular apps on the F-DroidAs we promise, our team made a list of the most popular free open-source apps you can download on F-Droid:
- NewPipe: a front-end for YouTube. To browse the content, you do not need to sign in to Google account or have the deals with regional restrictions;
- Face Slim: an unofficial Facebook app with the built-in Messenger. It does not have user tracking systems and annoying ads;
- Beta Updater for WhatsApp: if you like to use WhatsApp, this app gets you the opportunity to get and install its beta releases;
- Tachiyomi: the reader for manga;
- ownCloud: self-hosted cloud storage.