When it comes to Android apps, most people will think of the Google Play store where they download or purchase apps. Most of the time, those apps you downloaded are closed source and are controlled by developers. If you have a passion for free and open source (FOSS) software, F-Droid is a marketplace for you to find all the FOSS Android apps.
Let’s take a look at how the process works.
F-Droid is an application that you download onto your device. Having the app on your Android will let it check the compatibility of your device with those apps in the market. You only see apps that will work on your phone or tablet or with the version of the Android OS installed on your device.
To download F-Droid, scan the QR code on its site or click here on your Android device. This will prompt you to download the app. If you haven’t installed an app from an APK file or from a market other than the Google Play Store, you will be prompted to allow unknown app install.
Once downloaded and installed, F-Droid will check your device for compatibility with the apps in its market. The compatibility check can take a few minutes to complete. When it’s through, the apps you see should all work on your Android device.
Finding an Open Source Android App
Now that F-Droid can see what’s compatible with your device, it’s time to take a look at what’s’ available to download. The first screen you will see is the “What’s New” tab. Here you will see a few apps new to the F-Droid Market.
Viewing all of the available apps is as simple as tapping on the words “What’s New” in the top left corner and select the “All” option from the category list. Here you will see the everything in the open source market.
Something you will notice is a lack of previews/screenshots. Many times, these open source Android apps have a website or are also available in the Google Play Store for download.
You can also read more about them if you need more information or reviews before you decide to download an app. To access the website or link to the Google Play Store, tap the menu button at the top right of the app description on F-Droid to see a drop-down with your options.
Whenever you are dealing with open source apps, there can be a feeling of the app being a work in progress. While this may be the case, many times these apps solve a very specific problem or offer a free alternative to an app you’d otherwise need to pay for. If you are an app developer or would like to be, using one of these open source Android apps can be a great starting point for you to create a very useful app of your own.
What are your feelings about open source Android apps? Let us know in the comments below if you use open source apps or stick to the popular mainstream apps in the Google Play Store and Amazon AppStore.