Android became a worldwide phenomenon not only because it is Google’s operating system but also because it is an open source OS. Among various things that make open source technologies intriguing, one major trait is that they often come with surprisingly innovative features that are normally seen on commercially sold software and apps with noticeably bigger price tags possess.
However, Android still has a few proprietary components that make up its functionality and user experience aspects. But the open source Linux is still its base kernel establishing the OS as an open source contribution.
The stock Android ROM served as a foundation for a number of third-party custom ROMs including MIUI, Paranoid Android etc. Apart from the ROM, many apps designed to run on Android are actually open source complementing the nature of the OS itself. As a leading open source development services provider in the Middle East, we too often deal with client demands for an open source mobile app for Android.
That said, as we are ushering in 2019, here is a list of a few open source mobile apps that ended up making a lot of Android users happy this year.
Orbot, a product from The Tor Project released in 2008, is the Android version alternative to the Tor browser. Similar to Tor, Orbot serves as an effective anonymity cover for Android devices.
Once the Tor proxy has been enabled using Orbot, the app will suggest using an open source web browser called Orfox which in turn shares source code similarities with the Tor browser. To unlock Orbot’s full potential, the device it’s running on will have to be rooted.
VLC for Android
VLC is one of the most popular video players for the Windows operating system. It’s free and open source, and has a dedicated community working on improving it. VLC for Android didn’t dominate the Play Store however as MX Player already took the top spot. Nevertheless, VLC Android is still loved by millions of Android users, and features better audio support than MX player as well.
Amaze File Manager
What Android users expect from a great file manager include simplicity, material design, appealing looks, and a bunch of other useful file management features. Amaze File Manager has all these and more. Amaze File Manager is an open source file manager that gained good momentum this year in terms of downloads and feedback. It can also use other apps to open various media files.
Intrusive advertisements are too frequent and too annoying now. With the AdBlock browser for Android, unwanted or intrusive advertisements while browsing can be blocked. The customizable open source browser is recommended by Stanford University and the Electronic Frontier Foundation as it also effectively minimizes the risks of ‘malicious advertising’ infections.
ProtonMail was founded by CERN scientists in 2013, and was backed by a $550,000 donation campaign. The open source app is proudly presented as the world’s largest encrypted email service. The app comes with an impressive, modern UI with a number of great features including customizable swipe gestures, set self-destruct timers for messages etc. Users can also password-protected encrypted emails to non-ProtonMail addresses.
Evidently, 2018 gave a lot of momentum to a number of open source Android apps despite heavy competition. Open source tools and technologies have been around for a long time, and never have they actually disappointed people who simply aren’t willing to spend a lot on apps. Most open source apps including the ones in this list are products of passion.
As open source gains more traction across popular industries including but not limited to software development, mobile app development, IoT applications etc., we can expect the arrival of even more open source digital solutions packing awesome features with surprisingly smaller price tags or none at all.