Hello everyone, its princekelly again, bringing you my reviews of different open source apps.
I welcome you all to the concluding article for F-droid.
Nineteen days ago, I began the series Unique Android Apps. In episode 1a of this series, I stated the primary aim of the series; to share my personal experience and opinion of open source apps, which helped me a lot in the previous year. And also compare each with similar open source app or proprietary apps.
So far, I have published three articles, containing two open source apps.
I began the series by introducing an App from the Phone and SMS category, my number one SMS app; QKSMS. Where episode 1a contains the following significant topics;
Introduction to the phone and SMS category
Introduction to QKSMS
Four unique features I use in QKSMS
Help and feedback function on QKSMS
After concluding my review of QKSMS, I moved into F-droid, the first utility app under the utility category of my blog series.
This article is the concluding part of the episode 2a (F-droid: freedom from Google) for the first utility app in this series.
I decided to split it into two parts, due to the length of the article.
In the first part of this episode, I discussed the following topics;
Brief history on the development of app store.
Definition of F-droid, Google Play Store and Google Services?
Comparison of F-droid and Google Play Store.
Definition of utility apps in my terms.
How to publish Apps on F-droid and Google Play Store.
Why I use F-droid.
My application of F-droid.
Pros and cons of F-droid.
Unique features I use on F-droid.
I will conclude this episode; by discussing the following points in this article;
More unique features on F-droid
Android development tools
Suggestions on how to improve F-droid
NOTE: Readers are entitled to agree or disagree with the contents of this blog in a healthy manner. As stated earlier, the contents of this blog are my thoughts from my personal use and experience with the app. The contents are my opinion alone, and readers are liable for whatever actions and the resulting consequences of the actions they take from reading this blog article.
Android development tools
This article will be incomplete without brief information, on how developers create Apps before adding to app stores.
The Android development community alongside Google, created some tools to develop apps for Android devices. These tools birth gave rise to so many developers today. There are lots of Android development tools, I will write briefly on three.
Android Studio is the most popular Android development tool, for every newbie in Android development. It is used to create apps for all types of Android devices. I was excited at the thought of being an App developer, and I decide to take some online course on Android development. I downloaded numerous video tutorials, for developing Apps via Android studio. I was able to create simple apps like, Calculator, Flashlight, which was just trivia apps. I stopped learning app development due to some personal reasons, and lost personal interest in developing apps, to this moment. Who knows? I might pick it up tomorrow from where I stopped.
Gradle is another quality Android development tool. I download few tutorials on using Gradle, but I felt more attached to Android Studio. Android studio was more attractive and exciting to me than the Gradle.
I never got to learn or use Material design, due to my low knowledge in App development. I see some of my friends use it to develop quality graphic designs for clients apps.
Now, with the above information, we all have an idea of how developers create apps we see in Apps stores today. Let's move into the reaming features of F-droid, to conclude this exciting episode.
F-droid is an app I love so much, and I feel it's necessary I share the app's feature and my experience using the app.
Adding your Android apps to the F-droid store is very easy, cost-free and interesting, provided your app is open source. F-droid doesn't require any form of funds from the developer, to get their apps listed in the store. It is also safe for app users, as F-droid takes users security as its main priority. In a fast technology growing world where we have a lot of malware and numerous apps available online, security is vital for Android users. We make a lot of financial transaction and keep sensitive information on our smartphones. Private and confidential information can easily be nicked from our device, through the use of unsafe apps. I won't say F-droid is 100 percent, but I have seen it strive towards achieving great security standards for apps in its store. I mentioned in the previous part of this episode, how F-droid have gone through two public security audits. I won't go into details on how and why the security audits were performed, to avoid another lengthy article. I encourage you, my readers, to read more about previous F-droid security audits.
Features of F-droid
F-droid comes with a lot of exciting features; I will discuss the remaining features I find useful to me on F-droid.
As the name implies, the latest section of F-droid displays list of new apps added to F-droid. Latest displays lists of newly added apps and recently updated apps. F-droid automatically updates the list at the opening of the F-droid app. Users can also manually refresh the list of apps in this section, by swiping downwards on the screen. I search through this section daily, for new and exciting open source Apps. Am always in search of Apps, to help enhance and improve my mobile experience or, to replace boring proprietary apps on my device with new open source Apps. I got to discover some amazing apps I use on my device through the latest section of F-droid. Apps like Newpipe, DuckDuckGo privacy browser, Amaze file manager, amongst others. My last Steemit blog post for last year, was on Newpipe; a great youTube frontend. I have benefited immensely from the latest section on F-droid.
I use the category section of F-droid to search for specific categories of Apps. Apps on F-droid are placed into seventeen categories, connectivity Apps to Writing Apps. Google Play Store has over 35 different categories of Apps, which can be attributed to the vast amount of Apps available in the store. Each App category on F-droid displays the total number of Apps available under its section. App categories on Google Play Store, do not display the number of App present in each category. You can also manually update the category section on F-droid, by swiping downwards on the screen. It's the most colorful section on F-droid, each category with its corresponding background theme pictures.
From the name, it's quite obvious this section deals with distance. It connects two devices with F-droid installed via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The two connection platforms have different range limits in keeping two devices connected. This limit is also dependent on the type of device involved. Nearby functions more or less like Xender, the most popular app sharing platform on Android devices. But, Nearby can also share apps via the device's Bluetooth, not limited to only Wi-Fi like Xender. Bluetooth is much slower than Wi-Fi in transferring data, but I see it as an advantage for Nearby over Xender. I have seen some devices with Wi-Fi connection issues; such user will be happy to make use of the Bluetooth option on Nearby. However, Nearby is limited to sharing of apps, unlike Xender which can be used to exchange all other forms of files on Android.
Furthermore, I feel F-share sounds more reasonable and suitable for this section. This is my opinion on the name; other users might be fine with name Nearby. In Nigeria, the cost of data is relatively high; I buy 1 GB data for a thousand naira from my network provider. I exhaust 1 GB data within four days on blogging and chats. In Nigeria, 90 percent of Android users make use of Xender to share apps and files, to cut down data usage. I use Nearby to send F-droid to my friends and share apps amongst ourselves, thereby reducing our combined data consumption.
Moreover, if nearby was to have full file sharing option like Xender, it will increase the Apk size of F-droid. It will save more data for users like me and compete with other sharing platforms like Xender and Trebleshot. At the very least, I will have no more use for Xender or Trebleshot on my device.
In this section of F-droid, users view the list of available updates. I get to update my installed Apps from this section. I recently updated Newpipe from this section and made a few screenshots of the process. It's quite easy to use and efficient, check below for screenshots.
I click on this button to search for specific Apps, and I type in the name of the App I need in the search box. The search parameters of this section are; search by date added, and search by alphabetical order. The default search parameter displays Apps I relation to when they become available for download in the store. You can change the search parameter by clicking the time icon at the top right corner of the Search section.
The settings section on F-droid comes with a lot of tweaks, to suit different users. I check my list of installed Apps in this section and send Apps download links to friends online. App caches can be annoying and use of a lot of storage space, I set my Apps auto delete cache to a day.
The first time I downloaded F-droid, my first instinct was to check the App's settings to put some things in the right order. I changed my Auto update settings to over Wi-Fi connections only, to effectively manage my data bundle. I make manual updates to specific Apps as I discussed in the update section of F-droid. A massive list of tweaks is available in this section, to help meet individual specific needs. My advice to new users of F-droid, please check the App's settings and make the necessary adjustment to suit your needs.
Suggestions to help improve F-droid
Wishlist is a list of Apps; we wish to have on our device, but we are unable to download immediately for some reasons. I have a wishlist of Apps on Google Play Store, to help keep track of Apps I couldn't download due to low disk space, low data bundle balance, poor connection, or low battery. The wishlist affords me the stress of looking for such Apps all over again when I am ready to download and install. This will be a good addition on F-droid, which will benefit every user of the store.
I like the simplicity in the App's UI but will suggest a further improvement regarding the general App's beatification. It will help improve user experience and compete better with other App stores. It has an inferior color user interface in comparison with the biggest App store on Android; Google Play Store.
I have been able to complete my review of F-droid in this article. You can tell how much I love F-droid from my review.
Thank you all, for taking your time to read through my lengthy review of F-droid. I hope you will give it a trial and please, send your feedback in the comment section below.
Stay tuned for the article in this series.
App download link:
F-Droid (The app store that respects freedom and privacy) - https://f-droid.org/app/org.fdroid.fdroid
Contents of this article are written based on my knowledge, opinions, and experience using the app. Most of the images used are screenshots from my device.
This article is the second episode of this series.