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 download are closed source and 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.
F-Droid is an application run by Droid Ltd. It was founded by Ciaran E Gultnieks, a British computer programmer, back in 2010. Since then, the app has hosted over 4000 free and open-source applications. The applications come in a wide variety, including health, education, security, and more. Let us dive into how to install F-Droid and use it to install free and open-source Android apps.
How to Install F-Droid
It is pretty obvious that a marketplace app like this won’t be available in Google Play Store, as it is its direct competitor. To install F-Droid, you have to download the app from its website at f-droid.org and sideload it to your phone.
Click on the “download F-Droid” icon that shows up once you are on the website.
Wait for the app to be fully installed, which could take a couple of minutes. Once installed, open it. On the first run, it will take a while to refresh and update its repositories. After that, you will see apps appearing on the page.
You’ll instantly notice that it has a straightforward layout that is easy to use. It has sections for Categories, Nearby, Updates, and Settings, all of which are self-explanatory.
How to Download Apps on F-Droid
First, browse through the Categories Section for the application you would like to install.
Click on the app. It will bring you a description, screenshots of the interface, and permissions it requires. Notably, it shows the type of license, the source code, and other known features.
If you want other versions of the app, you can still find them in the app preface.
To install, click on “Install” to start the download.
Security: All the connections passed through F-Droid are handled through HTTPS. Thus, it enables the application to be more secure. For more privacy and security, it also incorporates Tor.
Peer-to-Peer Exchange: When there is no Internet connection, such as Wi-Fi, peer-to-peer exchange of APKs in the app are possible when they are already downloaded. The process incorporates the “Nearby” menu, which you can click to connect to another F-Droid user on that same network.
Notably, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are also listed as additional connection features that bring more transmission efficiency.
Tracking: The Anti-Feature section features tracking. The feature concentrates on apps that can track or report your activity without your knowledge. The app does not send crash reports or check for updates without your knowledge. Also, you cannot find applications that have proprietary libraries on the F-Droid repo.
Customization: F-Droid offers excellent customization for each app, with no hidden costs.
Drawbacks of F-Droid
Limited Applications: Compared to Play Store, which has over 2.5 million applications, F-Droid has a relatively small database.
Automatic Updating: Most of the applications on F-Droid cannot be automatically updated. Instead, you have to request an update.
No Rating: Since it’s just a simple app, it has no rating system. To find the best apps, you may have to browse around quite a bit.
A Secure Alternative to the Play Store
The question of how safe the F-Droid is may come up quite often. There is no application out there that is 100 percent safe. Being an open-source project, they give details of everything about the app. None of the applications in the catalog have hidden costs or tracking services, as stated. Programmers can check that out through the code. When F-Droid spots applications that do not adhere to this, they are immediately flagged. Therefore, you can be sure that F-Droid is very safe and secure to use.
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