My Top 50 Android Apps πŸ“±

These are all the Android applications that I use often, each app on this list serves a purpose and adds value to my day. The developers behind every one of these apps have done an amazing job, and for that, I am thankful. This in part is my motivation for writing this list

This is, in no way a list of ultra-secure, privacy-respecting or fully FOSS apps. In fact, the very idea of having 50 apps on your device goes against the minimalist security principle, and increases attack surface. However, I do carefully manage permissions and connectivity features, blocking internet access for all apps that shouldn't need it

Click the App Name to visit website, the GitHub icon to view source code, and the F-Droid/ Google Play icon to download APK 😊
Note: Any non-opensource apps are indicated with a red cross ❌

Essentials:

  • Aegis - 2-Factor Authentication Token Manager F-Droid GitHub
  • KeePassDX - Password Manager for KeePass files F-Droid GitHub
  • Standard Notes - Secure, Encrypted Cross-Platform Notes F-Droid GitHub
  • K-9 Mail - IMAP Mail Client with Multi-Account Support F-Droid GitHub
  • ProtonMail - Official Client for ProtonMail (PGP Encrypted Email) Google-Play GitHub
  • SimpleLogin - PGP Encrypted Mail Forwarder for Multiple Aliases F-Droid GitHub
  • EteSync - Secure, Encrypted Sync Engine for Calendar, Contacts and Tasks F-Droid GitHub
  • xBrowserSync - Secure Bookmark Storage and Browser Syncing F-Droid GitHub
  • OpenKeychain - OpenPGP for encrypting files and communications F-Droid GitHub
  • EDS Lite - Managing files in encrypted containers F-Droid GitHub

Networking:

  • NetGuard - Firewall supporting per-app internet blocking and advanced rules F-Droid GitHub
  • Orbot - Routes traffic via Tor network F-Droid Git
  • Mullvad - My VPN of choice F-Droid GitHub
  • WireGuard - VPN for connecting to private networks F-Droid Git
  • Network Manager Pro - Complete suit of Network tools Google-Play ❌

Communication

  • Signal - E2E Encrypted Messaging, (not anonymous, as it's linked to mobile number) Google-Play GitHub
  • Briar - Extremity secure and robust communication which can also work locally (via WiFi or Bluetooth) F-Droid Git
  • Element - Matrix Client (Matrix is a privacy-respecting P2P encrypted multi-user chat platform) F-Droid GitHub

Productivity Basics

  • FireFox Focus - Fast & Private browser, with no persistent history and automatic tracker blocking F-Droid GitHub
  • GitHub - Official GitHub client, for managing issues, pull-requests and browsing repositories Google-Play
  • Hour Blocks - Simple hour-by-hour day planner, with calendar support Google-Play ❌
  • Open Camera - Full-featured, privacy-respecting camera app with good feature support F-Droid Git
  • OsmAnd~ Maps - Maps with offline support, public transport directions and turn-by-turn navigation F-Droid GitHub
  • Simple Calendar - Highly customizable, privacy-respecting, offline, easy calendar app F-Droid GitHub
  • Simple Calculator - Just a Calculator app F-Droid GitHub
  • Simple Contacts - Privacy-respecting contacts manager F-Droid GitHub
  • Simple Dialer - Privacy-respecting cellular phone application F-Droid GitHub
  • Tasks - Secure Todo List App with CalDav Sync Capabilities F-Droid GitHub
  • Geometric Weather - Simple weather app, with clean UI, 15-day forecast and detailed outlook Google-Play GitHub
  • Tile - Companion app for Tile Bluetooth Finders (useful for finding keys, wallet, phone, TV remote etc) Google-Play ❌
  • VNC Viewer - Virtual remote desktop app, to access and control PC, Server or other device Google-Play ❌
  • Bible - An offline Bible app, with audio and daily plans Google-Play ❌
  • Loyalty Card Keychain - Securely stores and displays store loyalty cards, with good protocol support F-Droid GitHub

Utilities

  • AdAway - Ad and tracker blocker that uses hosts file (requires root) F-Droid GitHub
  • SuperFreezZ - Entirely freeze all background activities on a per-app basis F-Droid Git
  • XPrivacyLua - Mocks app permissions fake data (solving the issues caused by revoking permissions) F-Droid GitHub
  • App Manager - Package manager & viewer, with useful privacy & security features F-Droid GitHub
  • OAndBackupX - Backup apps and data, without the need for Google F-Droid GitHub
  • SecScanQR - Fully-featured, privacy-respecting QR code & barcode scanner & generator F-Droid GitHub
  • Island - Isolate and compartmentalize apps for privacy Google-Play GitHub
  • Powerful Monitor - Fully-featured system monitor and RAM cleaner, no trackers Google-Play ❌
  • Exodus - Shows which trackers each app has within it's APK F-Droid GitHub

Home Control

  • FlutterHole - Easy control over local Pi Hole instance F-Droid GitHub
  • Home Assistant - Control all smart home and IoT devices, via self-hosted HASS.io server F-Droid GitHub
  • Fing - Home Network Security Google-Play ❌
  • Ping Tools - Basic uptime monitor for your servers Google-Play ❌

Media

  • Plex - Stream media from home Plex Server Google-Play GitHub
  • PocketCasts - Podcast Player with Advanced Listening Tools and OPML Support Google-Play ❌
  • Spotify - Music Streaming and Downloads (Premium) Google-Play GitHub ❌
  • Transistor - Internet Radio F-Droid GitHub
  • NewPipe - YouTube Player F-Droid GitHub

Misc:

  • Developer Assistance - Powerful debugging app for Android development Google-Play GitHub
  • Dev Tools - Essential toolkit for Android development, including decompiling Google-Play GitHub
  • CloudMare - CloudFlare Application Management F-Droid GitHub

Device Customization

  • Total Launcher - Highly Customizable Android Launcher Google-Play ❌
  • KWGT - Advanced Widget Creator Google-Play ❌
  • Automate - Device Macros and Automation, with Home Assistant Compatibility Google-Play ❌



Notes

Exodus Privacy

Ξ΅xodus is an awesome service, I don't know how I managed before it came about. It's a privacy audit platform that scans Android APKs for links to known trackers, and generated up-to-date reports for most apps available through Google Play. You can either search an app though their website, or use the Exodus App that scans all installed apps, showing which trackers and permissions they include

NetGuard

I heavily rely on NetGuard, which I use to completely block internet access for all apps that don't absolutely require a network connection. For the remaining applications I control how and when they can connect, usually blocking any network access when the screen is off. An alternative to NetGuard, is TrackerControl, that allows the blocking of individual trackers on a per-app basis, however I use Pi Hole for blocking adds & trackers instead.

Faraday

Typically, when I'm not activity using my phone, I keep it in my Silent Pocket Faraday case, which has the added benefit of preserving battery life.

VPN

When I do connect, I VPN into my home network (I wish I could use WireGuard for this, but currently NetGuard only supports OpenVPN protocol). This provides some additional protection thanks to my firewall, and Pi-Hole is used to block ads and some trackers, it also allows secure access to my locally self-hosted services. All traffic on my home network is routed though Mullvad VPN. Even though this adds several extra hops to my phone's traffic, it doesn't seem to affect speed too much, and the above benefits make it worthwhile.

Orbot

Sometimes I use Orbot as backup service, but I do find this to be slower, and with a lot of extra CAPTCHAs. Another similar app, but with greater controls is orWall, by @EthACKdotOrg, which is useful for forcing selected apps to use Tor.

Automate

Automate is a really handy app for running simple macros and device automation (however it is unfortunately not open source). One of the things I use it for, is turning off WiFi and other connectivity features when I'm not using them. I also have my phone enter airplane mode at nighttime, in order to not distract me (requires root). (Easer an LibreTasks are open source alternatives, but with less functionality)

Island

Island is a really useful sandbox environment, allowing you to clone selected apps and run them in an isolated box, preventing it from accessing your personal data, or device information, and it lets you freeze apps, preventing background tasks from running. It works by utilizing Androids Work Profile feature. It's certainly not fool-proof though, any security bugs in the Android system could lead to data leaks. It's currently not available on F-Droid, an alternative app is Shelter, built by @PeterCxy although I have found it to be less stable.

Monitoring Apps

The more apps installed on a device, the larger the attack surface. 50 is probably too many. The average smart phone user has 100 apps installed on their device- that's defiantly too many. It's important to know what is running in the background, remove apps you no longer use often or that have invasive trackers. App Manager is a really useful package manager, that makes uninstalling unneeded apps easy. Exodus is useful for finding out which trackers are included in each app.


The following apps are not fully open-source, and depending on your threat model, you may wish to avoid them:
Network Manager Pro, Hour Blocks, Tile, VNC Viewer, YouVision Bible, Fing, Ping Tools, PocketCasts, Spotify, Total Launcher, KWGT, Automate
The following apps are open source, but not available on F-Droid, again, this may be a deal breaker for you:
Island, ProtonMail, Signal, GitHub, Geometric Weather, Plex, Developer Assistant, Dev Tools


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