This week I tried out several open source alternatives to some of my favorite Android apps. Some offered more features and a more rich user experience than proprietary alteratives, some offered an easy drop-in-replacement, and a few left quite a bit to be desired.
SMS: QKSMS (replaces Android Messages)
QKSMS looks great, has all the standard features you’d expect and is open source. I’ve tried it in the past and have to admit some issues with group messaging. However, that’s not something I do every day so it’s not much of an inconvenience at all. Android Message feels like a “guaranteed to work” SMS app, but this is a good second, or full on replacement.
Web Browser: Chromium (replaces Google Chrome)
Chrome is esentially chromium (open source) after it has been branded with Google-ness. Firefox is probably the most well known open source alternative, but Chromium gives a Chrome feel while still being open source. Strangely, on Android you’ll need a helper app to install Chormium. To sign in and sync you’ll need to remove your Google account from your phone then sign in through Chromium and it should be added back.
MP3 Player: Vanilla Music (replaces PowerAmp)
I’ve used PowerAmp for years as in when I first purchased it it was because the app included an equalizer and there weren’t that many of those on the then Android Market and phone speakers wer not nearly as “good” as they are now. That said, Vanilla Music hasn’t let me down yet and I use it daily. My favorite feature might be the intuitive gestures it allows. That is, not just left/right to skip, but up/down which I have set up to show queue / show library.
Podcast Player: Antennapod (replaces PodKicker)
I’m not a podcast addict, but there are a select few that I listen to like a zealot. That said, I’m not too picky about my podcast app’s features. Antennapod packs them in and, while Podkicker is lighter, I don’t see any reason not to pick up an open source alternative.
File Manager: Amaze (replaces EX File Manager)
There are two things I need in my file manager, a dark theme and root access. Both these options have them, however only one is open source. Amaze has all the features you’d expect, plus the perk of showing file / directory permissions and storage size. Win.
Sound Recorder: Easy Sound Recorder (replaces Smart Recorder)
Recording audio isn’t something I do regularly either, but I think it’s one of those simple gadgets (like flashlight) that we’ve come to expect in our smartphone “toolbox.” Unless you’re mixing professional audio you probably don’t need anything fance, so this sleek, simple, material desigened open source app is just right.
Stay tuned for another round coming up next week!comments powered by Disqus