I have not been a proper Android user since 2019. These recommendations are generally based on my past experiences with them on Android.
This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of every app I think should be on an Android phone. It's just a list of some apps I think are good.
Logos used in this post are not assumed to be public domain but are used under fair use.
F-Droid is fantastic. It's an app store for Android which only includes free (both libre and gratis) software in the main repository. (You can also add third-party software sources which are not guaranteed to be free software.)
To install F-Droid on an Android phone, go to f-droid.org and download the F-Droid APK. You'll may need to grant special permissions to install third-party software. See this Android Authority post for more info.
Without further ado, here are some Android apps I like that are avilable on F-Droid.
A nice app for following and listening to podcasts. It doesn't require an account anywhere, but it can search the iTunes database to find new podcasts and add their RSS feeds.
It's a great media player on desktop, and you can use it on Android too!
I have not used this app myself, but I've heard lots of great things about it.
Basically, it's a free software frontend for YouTube (which also experimentally supports SoundCloud, media.ccc.de, PeerTube, and Bandcamp). Here are some advantages of this over standard YouTube:
- Free software and better for privacy
- No ads
- You can listen to music in the background
- Ability to download videos or audio
XMPP is a decentralized instant messaging protocol. XMPP with OMEMO encryption is like decentralized Signal. I recommend one of these XMPP clients which support OMEMO encryption.
Conversations is a great, user-friendly XMPP client.
Note: Conversations defaults to the conversations.im server, which requires payment after a 6-month free trial. (This can, of course, be changed if you want to use a different server.)
It's just Conversations "with some changes, to improve usability."
blabber.im was originally called Pix-Art Messenger.
Snikket on Android is also in the Conversations family, but it's meant to be more of a branded experience (like Element for Matrix) to make it easier for people to get started. The Snikket app only works with Snikket servers.
Matrix is like the next-generation XMPP, and I think it's much more likely to gain some mainstream adoption.
Element is the reference client developed by the matrix.org team. It should always be up-to-date with all the latest Matrix features.
(Note: I actually recommend SchildiChat over Element, but it's easier to talk about SchildiChat if I've already introduced Element.)
It's just Element with a better user interface.
FluffyChat is a cute and friendly Matrix client, and as of October 18th, FluffyChat is in the main F-Droid repo! It's really nice but may be behind Element/SchildiChat in terms of features.
In particular, the last time I checked (around 3 weeks ago), FluffyChat didn't support spaces (a new group feature for Matrix) as well as I'd like.
Briar is really cool. It's a messaging application which can work over Bluetooth or local Wi-Fi networks, even when the internet is down. When it uses the internet, it routes everything over Tor, providing metadata protection.
It also has RSS feed support. It fetches the feeds over Tor and then shares them with your contacts.
Unfortunately, in my experience, Briar is unusable for most people because it logs them out automatically. Unless you're proactive about reopening the app and logging back in when you, for example, reboot your phone, you'll just go offline and never come back online.
Digital images contain metadata (called EXIF data) which can include things like the location where the image was taken. It's always a good idea to remove this metadata before sharing pictures.
Scrambled Exif makes this really easy. You just go to share the image, then select Scrambled Exif in the share dialogue. It will scrub the metadata then open a second share dialogue, allowing you to share this cleaned image with the app you're actually using.
When I was on Android, this was what I used for two-factor authentication.
(Note that F-Droid marks andOTP as containing non-free assets because it includes logos for various sites.)
A nice, lightweight mobile Mastodon client.
This isn't really a category like the previous ones. Tibor Kaputa develops a collection of simple apps for Android which are recognizable for their simple, stylistically similar, orange logos.
They're simple. They do their job. They don't invade your privacy or request unnecessary permissions. They're visually pleasing, and they have customizable themes.
There are a bunch of these. See the list of SimpleMobileTools repositories on Microsoft GitHub.