Privacy Android Apps
Last updated June 25, 2021
Enjoying the benefits of free online services is convenient. In fact, it’s so convenient that people are ready to accept terms and conditions without thinking about what’s actually in them. Services like Google, Facebook, TikTok, Uber, and Instagram expect your consent to being watched online wherever you go, in exchange for the convenience those services provide. You shouldn’t have to surrender your data to companies that don’t have your best intentions in mind. By using privacy Android apps, and by making small changes, you can often enjoy the same level of convenience and service while better maintaining your privacy.
There is an excellent article that provides more information Clario – Big brother brands report: which companies track our personal data the most?
Below is a curated and regularly updated list of privacy Android apps that provide the same or similar services to more popular and privacy invasive apps. Our recommended apps in the list below are chosen because they have the following characteristics.
- They do not have built in trackers. For more information on trackers, please see How Android Works.
- They are preferably open source apps. This means the code can be reviewed by others to ensure it is secure and does not collect excess information about its users.
- They are free to download and use. Always consider making a donation to a developer if you find a particular app useful so they can continue to provide updates and make a living.
- They have user guides available on how to set up and use the app.
If options are given to download the same privacy Android app from F-Droid, Aurora Store or Google Play Store, our recommendation is to use F-Droid as often the developers will provide full featured versions on F-Droid for free, where on Aurora Store of Google Play Store you would need to pay the same application.
Privacy Android Apps
Aurora Store is a direct alternative to Google’s Play Store and serves an almost identical function. Aurora Store allows users to search, download and install apps from the same source as the Play Store (so Aurora Store does not have a separate app repository of Play Store apps). Users can log into an anonymous account or their actual Google account to download apps they previously paid for. Aurora Store can be downloaded from F-Droid or from the Aurora OSS website.
F-Droid is a catalogue of free and open sourced privacy Android apps. The F-Droid application makes it easy to browse, install, and keep track of updates on your device. It can be downloaded and installed from the F-Droid website. You do not need an account to search for and install applications.
For a extensive video tutorial, check out Atsanik’s F-Droid and Aurora Store Setup Guide.
Audio Book Players
Audible, Google Play Books, Audiobooks.com
Audio Anchor can be found on F-Droid and allows users to listen and bookmark audio books stored locally on their phone. Currently it does not have the ability to download or purchase audio books or podcasts from online stores. Instructions on how to use the app can be found on Audio Anchor’s Github page.
Voice can be found on F-Droid, Aurora Store and the Google Play Store. Like Audio Anchor, it allows users to listen and bookmark audio books stored locally on their phone. Currently it does not have the ability to download or purchase audio books or podcasts from online stores. The app does not have a user guide, but is very simple to configure and use.
Book and Comic Readers
Google Play Books, Kindle, Moon Reader Pro
Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox
Brave is a Chromium fork, similar to Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge. It has built in ad blocking and tracking / cookie protections. It can be downloaded for free from the Aurora Store and Google Play Store. The Brave Browser Help Center can be used to configure the app.
Bromite is also a Chromium fork and has built in ad blocking, security and privacy enhancements. Bromite must be installed as a repo to F-Droid.
Fennec can be downloaded for free on F-Droid and is based on the latest Mozilla Firefox browser release. It has proprietary code and telemetry removed plus improved protection that blocks over 2000 online trackers. The Firefox for Android Support website can be used to configure Fennec.
Mull can be downloaded for free on F-Droid and is based on the latest Mozilla Firefox browser release. Compared to Fennec, it has more proprietary code and telemetry removed as evidenced by their fewer documented F-Droid Anti-Features. The Firefox for Android Support website can be used to configure Mull.
Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, aCalendar+
Simple Calendar Pro can be downloaded for free on F-Droid, and on Aurora Store and Google Play store for a fee. It’s a fully customizable, offline calendar with sync capability (see below) with no ads, complicated features, or unnecessary permissions. The user can customize event reminders, notification sounds, calendar widgets and how the app looks. Daily, weekly, monthly and event views make checking upcoming events and appointments simple. If a user needs to sync with an online calendar, they will either need microG enabled (CalyxOS) or have DAVx5 and/or ICSx⁵ apps installed and configured (see below).
Calendar and Contacts Sync
Google Play Services
DAVx⁵ is a CalDAV/CardDAV management and synchronization app for Android which natively integrates with many Android calendar and contact apps. It can downloaded from F-Droid and configured to sync with popular services like AOL, Google, Zoho, cPanel, GMX, iCloud, Yahoo, Yandex and Zoho. A full list of services along with configuration instructions can be found on their Tested Services website.
ICSx⁵ allows you to add, subscribe and manage external and local iCalendar .ics files on your device. The app will work with shared Google and iCloud calendars, allows a user to import calendar events and display events in most calendar apps like Simple Calendar Pro. Configuration instructions can be found on the ICSx⁵ Usage website.
Gmail, Microsoft Outlook,Yahoo Mail
K-9 Mail can be downloaded from F-Droid, Aurora Store and Google Play Store. It is designed for both novice and power users, offering features like push notifications for IMAP and POP accounts, a unified inbox, themes, attachment saving, signatures, per account notifications, and emoji support. A full list of features can be found on the K-9 Mail website and configuration instructions can be found on the K-9 Documentation website.
Google Pixel Launcher, Nova Launcher, Stock Phone Launcher
Lawnchair 2 can be downloaded from the Aurora Store and from the Google Play Store. The launcher is very similar to Nova Launcher and Google Pixel Launcher and allows a user to fully customize the icons, fonts and behaviors on the desktop, dock and drawer. It has support for adaptive icons. drawer categories (tabs and folders), automatic dark mode and notification dots.
Gboard – The Google Keyboard, Microsoft SwiftKey, Stock Phone Keyboard
OpenBoard can be downloaded from F-Droid. It has no no dependency on Google binaries, supports themes, spell checking, and emojis.
Maps and Navigation
Google Maps, Here We Go, Waze
Magic Earth can be downloaded from the Aurora Store and Google Play Store. There are many features partially listed here: turn by turn navigation; lane assistance; regularly updated online and offline maps; 2D, 3D and satellite map views; information about points of interest from Wikipedia; route planning for car, bike, public transport and foot; functionality to use your phone as a dash cam; notification about speed cameras and current speed limits; real-time traffic info, and and local weather forecasts. The app has no tracking nor does it collect any personal data. More information on how to use configure the app can be found on their Support Page.
Organic Maps can be dowloaded from F-Droid, the Aurora Store and Google Play Store. It offers fast offline maps, routes and turn by turn navigation (with voice guidance) for driving, cycling, hiking and walking. Visual data includes contour lines, elevation profiles, peaks and slopes. Map data is based on crowd-sourced OpenStreetMap data and curated by the MAPS.ME founders.
OsmAnd+ can be downloaded from F-Droid (full OsmAnd+ application) the Aurora Store and Google Play Store for the pared down version (OsmAnd). The app has access to free, worldwide, offline and online OpenStreetMap (OSM) data. It features voice and optical navigation, viewing POIs (points of interest), creating and managing GPX tracks, shows contour line visualization and altitude info, provides a choice between driving, cycling, and pedestrian modes. In my opinion, this application is best used for hiking, walking and cycling and less for in car navigation. OsmAnd+ is incredibly feature rich, and there is a learning curve, but fortunately there is detailed information on how to configure and use the app on OsmAnd’s Help Page.
WebApps Browser can be downloaded from F-Droid. It provides a secure way to replace dedicated apps and instead use popular webapps (mobile versions of webpages) like Google Maps. It accomplishes this by providing a sandbox for these webapps. Each webapp will run in it’s own sandbox, with 3rd party requests (images, scripts, etc.) blocked, and all external links opening in an external default web browser.
Messenger and Texting
Google Messages, Stock Texting App, Textra
Signal can be downloaded from Signal’s website and also from the Aurora Store and Google Play Store. In our opinion, it’s the best all in one messaging service for most users as it allows the user to send standard unencrypted SMS and MMS messages to non-Signal users, and send encrypted messages, conduct group conversations and conduct video and audio chats with Signal users. Desktop and web clients exist that sync your Signal (no SMS or MMS) messages from your phone to your computer. Instructions on how to configure and use the app are provided on Signal’s Support webpage.
Telegram FOSS can be downloaded from F-Droid and is slightly different from the Telegram app from the Aurora Store or Google Play Store. In Telegram FOSS, several proprietary parts are removed including Google Play Services for the location services, HockeySDK for self-updates and push notifications through Google Cloud Messaging. Location sharing functionality is restored using OpenStreetMap. The app provides encrypted chat, group chat, file and image sharing and voice calls to other Telegram users . Support for the app is provided on Telegram’s FAQ.
Google Play Music, Musicolet Music Player, Stock Phone Music Player
Music, Pulse Music, Vanilla Music and Vinyl Music – there is no shortage of offline music apps available on F-Droid. Each app offers similar features like tag editing, sleep timers, album art, playlists etc. and minor differences in the interface, customization options and the type of audio files that can be played.
Amazon Music, Google Play Music, Spotify, YouTube Music
Radio Droid can be downloaded from F-Droid. The app allows a user to search and browse over 28,000 online radio stations and stream and record content.
Newpipe can be downloaded from F-Droid. The app has been created with the purpose of getting the original YouTube experience on your smartphone without annoying ads and questionable permissions. It offers many features that the YouTube app does not provide, like the option to download video or audio, a popup player, a background player, bookmarks and play history – all without needing a Google account or having to log in. While you can read comments, the only downside is you can’t comment on videos. Details on features and how to configure the app are found on NewPipe’s website.
MusicPiped can be downloaded from F-Droid. It is a full-featured music player that streams from YouTube instead of playing local files. You can stream any music available on YouTube for free. It does not stream video and only fetches audio files, thus eliminating heavy data usage. It’s a fully featured music player so you can enjoy background playback with notification controls, and you don’t need to keep screen on and focused to listen to your music.
Google Keep, Evernote, Microsoft OneNote
Carnet can be downloaded from F-Droid, the Aurora Store and the Google Play Store. It is a powerful note taking app with many similarities to Google Keep. It features free NextCloud sync, a rich text editor (bold/italic/underline/color/highlight/alignment), ability to insert images and audio recordings, support for To-Do lists, support for website links, ability to organize notes with folders, search functionality, and statistics (words/sentences/characters).
Omni Notes can be downloaded from F-Droid, the Aurora Store and the Google Play Store. The developer seems to be more frequently updating the version found on the Aurora Store and the Google Play Store, but that version also has some built in trackers. It’s an open-source note taking application, designed to be lightweight and simple. Features include add, modify, archive, trash and delete notes, share, merge and search notes, image, audio, location and generic file attachments, manage notes using tags and categories, sketch-note mode, and To-Do lists. Currently the app does not have sync capability but does allow exporting and importing notes from backups.
Joplin can be downloaded from Aurora Store and the Google Play Store or directly from their website. It’s a a free, open source note taking and to-do application, which can handle a large number of notes organized into notebooks. The notes are searchable, can be copied, tagged and modified. The notes can be synchronized with various cloud services including Nextcloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, WebDAV or the local file system. When synchronizing the notes, notebooks, tags and other metadata are saved to plain text files which can be easily inspected, backed up and moved around or they can be fully encrypted. The application is available for Windows, Linux, macOS, Android and iOS. A Web Clipper, to save web pages and screenshots from your browser, is also available for Firefox and Chrome. Documentation on how to use and configure the app can be found on the Joplin website.
Standard Notes can be downloaded from the Aurora Store and Google Play Store. It is a simple and private text only notes app. It offers end-to-end encryption and allows a user to securely sync their notes, using the free Standard Notes service, across all their devices (Android, Windows, iOS, Linux, and Web). It features offline access, so a user can access their downloaded notes even without an internet connection, no limit on number of notes or devices, passcode and fingerprint lock protection, a tagging system to organize notes (like #work, #ideas, #passwords, #crypto). Documentation on how to use and configure the app can be found on the Standard Notes Help website.
Office (Word, Excel etc.)
Google Sheets,Docs, Slides, Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Polaris Office
Collabora Office can be downloaded from Aurora Store and Google Play Store. It allows you to read and edit Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and LibreOffice documents directly on your phone or tablet, guaranteeing your privacy and putting you in full control of your data and documents.
Photo Gallery and Editor
Google Photos, Stock Phone Gallery App
Simple Gallery Pro can be downloaded from F-Droid. The same version, but paid, can be downloaded from the Aurora Store or Google Play Store. Simple Gallery Pro is a highly customizable offline gallery. Browse, organize, edit and crop photos or videos, recover deleted files with the recycle bin, create hidden galleries to protect images and videos, view a huge variety of different photo & video formats including JPEG, RAW, and SVG, and apply photo filters. Instructions for use can be found on the Simple Gallery Pro FAQ.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit
Barinsta can be downloaded from F-Droid. If you don’t upload posts or stories on Instagram, Barinsta allows you to browse and interact with Instagram, while giving you more options to control your data. If you log into your Instagram account, Barinsta can achieve most viewing and interaction features, with extra features such as downloading posts, stories and avatars, copying texts, and comparing followers.
Fritter can be downloaded from F-Droid and the Aurora Store and Google Play Store. Fritter allows you to browse and read tweets but not write them. It’s an open source front-end for Twitter, focusing on giving you the best experience and keeping your data private, local and in your hands. There is no user guide but the interface and functionality is quite simple so it should be able to configure on your own.
Infinity for can be downloaded from F-Droid, Aurora Store and Google Play Store. It’s a beautiful, feature-rich app that offers a smooth Reddit browsing experience. It is completely free and ad-less; you can browse Reddit without interruptions or distractions. There is no user guide but the app does have it’s own Reddit Community for questions and answers.
WebApps Browser can be downloaded from F-Droid. It provides a secure way to replace dedicated apps and instead use popular webapps (mobile version of web pages) like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It accomplishes this by providing a sandbox for multiple webapps. Each webapp will run in it’s own sandbox, with 3rd party requests (images, scripts, iframes, etc.) blocked, and all external links opening in an external default web browser.
Google Tasks, Microsoft To Do,
Tasks.org can be downloaded from F-Droid, Aurora Store and the Google Play Store. It is free open-source software, based on the original source code from the popular Astrid Tasks & To Do Lists app. Tasks can be used entirely offline, or synchronized with Google Tasks, CalDAV, or EteSync. It has a multitude of features, including nested subtasks with unlimited depth, powerful repeating task options, location-based arrival and departure notifications, tag, filter, and search tasks, customize lists with different icons and colors, hide tasks until a later date, and automatically add tasks to a calendar. A full configuration and user guide can be found on the Tasks.org Documentation website.
Open Tasks can be downloaded from F-Droid, Aurora Store and the Google Play Store. This app supports basic task management, task syncing with cloud services, and provides a user friendly user interface. There is limited documentation for the app’s use, but considering it’s simplicity, it has a very small learning curve.
Newpipe can be downloaded from F-Droid. The app has been created with the purpose of getting the original YouTube experience on your smartphone without annoying ads and questionable permissions. It offers many features that the YouTube app does no provide, like the option to download video or audio, popup player, background player, bookmarks and history all without needing a Google account or having to log in. While you can read comments, the only downside is you can’t comment on videos. Details on features and how can you can configure the app are found on NewPipe’s website.
VLC Media Player can be downloaded from F-Droid, Aurora Store and the Google Play Store. It is a free and open source cross-platform player that plays most multimedia audio and video files as well as network streams, network shares and drives. VLC’s audio player has a complete database, an equalizer and filters. A full list of supported audio and video formats can be found on the VLC website. Configuration and usage instructions can be found on the VLC Support website.
Geometric Weather can be downloaded from F-Droid. It is a light and powerful weather app that provides you with real-time temperature, air quality, 15-days weather forecast, and accurate time-sharing trends. The app has a beautiful material design interface, global weather data (rpovided by Openweather or Accuweather services), automatic dark mode, powerful desktop widget, weather notification and forecast , alert information, multiple UI styles and live weather wallpaper.
Privacy Friendly Weather can be downloaded from F-Droid, Aurora Store and the Google Play Store. It lets you watch the weather for cities and locations you are interested in. The weather includes current weather, hourly and daily forecasts, details such as temperature, a short description of the current weather condition and humidity, wind and rain. A dark theme as well as 4 different home screen widgets are availble with current day or future day informations. The unit of temperatures can be set to Celsius or Fahrenheit and the unit of distances to kilometres or miles. Multiple wind units are available also. All weather data is retrieved from the OpenWeatherMap by using their API (http://openweathermap.com/api) which provides a free service. Privacy Friendly Weather requires only the minimum amount of permissions, the INTERNET permission which is necessary to make HTTP requests to remote servers for retrieving weather data. The two other permissions for binding services and keeping the phone awake are needed for background data handling.