From Google Play to F-Droid

I have previously postponed the removal of my Google account from my Android phone as I expected it to be a troublesome and tedious process. However, last week I spent a day removing apps installed through Google Play and replaced them with free and open-source software alternatives as provided by F-Droid.

F-Droid app store
Listing my installed free and open source apps on F-Droid.

F-Droid is the open source app store for Android focusing on freedom, privacy, and security.

To learn more about F-Droid, please watch the following eye-opening presentation: F-Droid: The private, secure, free and open app store for Android by Peter Serwylo.

I only had a handful of apps installed from Google Play, but those were what I consider essential for daily operations. Thankfully, replacing them with free and open-source software turned out to be a trivial matter. The following table gives an overview of which apps I had installed from Google Play and their subsequent FOSS replacement (if applicable).

Google Play F-Droid
Gmail K-9 Mail
Google Authenticator FreeOTP+
NoRoot Firewall NetGuard
Orbot Orbot (Guardian Project)
Orfox Orfox (Guardian Project)

The following apps where not available from the F-Droid app store: Firefox, Signal and Keybase. Both Firefox and Signal provide direct download of APK files for installation. Keybase for some undisclosed reason does not. I’m fine with manually updating Firefox and Signal, but in regard to Keybase, well this is where we part ways.

After I was done with removing apps from Google Play and installing their counterparts from F-Droid, I proceeded to remove my Google account from my phone and disabled Google Play along with the rest of Google’s pre-installed spyware apps (where possible).

In conclusion, I found that I greatly prefer the free and open source Android experience as opposed to it simply being a platform for Google to deliver personalized ads. Speaking of Google, it’s almost rewarding to observe system services desperately trying to reach Google’s vast armada of servers. Like unanswered distress calls, their screams are dying in an all-encompassing darkness.

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